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Two days ago I started mozilla firefox and surfed to a website which streams the sound of air traffic all over the world. After that I started audacity to capture some of it.
The capture failed but more importantly: after that, sound had completely dissapeared on my ubuntu box.
My problem is that I really do not know where to start with finding out what has happened. The soundcard works ok under Windows so it is not a hardware problem.
But where to start?
-first: how can a program ruin my sound settings!?
-Where is the mistake? In the kernel? In one of the kernel modules? In one of the 2 million config files? bug in the driver? Alsa? Pulse? Oss? Esd?
Since I am a computer scientist I feel slightly ashamed, but also increasingly frustrated about the simple fact that I can turn 10000 knobs without ever knowing whether turning a specific knob makes a difference in the first place.
-How to verify what is going on? How to find out where the problem is? How to verify that changing a config file indeed changes something?
Doing a modprobe -l|grep snd gives me about twenty different snd modules loaded in the kernel...So which one is needed and which one is not? How do I know that they work? Is one missing, then how to know that? Was it missing before? Again: how to know that? Wasn't it perhaps needed anyway? Has an option changed? If so, why? And again: how to know that? And so on and so on...
Invoking "alsa force-reload" simply says that several modules have been reloaded. So? Should I look at that anyway? Perhaps reinstalling alsa using synaptic? Perhaps a changed setting in the irq's? Perhaps...perhaps...perhaps....
I' m sorry that this post is turning into a rant but how can you guys keep up in a flood of information which can' t be estimated for relevance anymore as you drown in options and possible explanations? I am feeling more and more schizophrenic...
Anyway, to end a little more constructive and with some enthusiasm: can anyone give me a meta algorithm of what to check/where to search in which order in a verifiable way? My linux box (with sound) has worked very well for many years. I am running xmonad, using latex, emacs, I master a dozen programming languages and programmed my own simple jukebox script just for the fun of it. Doing a complete reinstall just because a soundcard doens't work ironically "sounds" ridiculous to me.
/etc/asound.conf does not exist, but asound.names does...
Also no pulse audio is on my machine. Therefore I installed it and tried the alsa restore again. Alsa indeed started complaining that pulseaudio gets in the way. After killing the pulseaudio process alsa reloads as usual so again, this seems to be healthy...any ideas?
So... after some searching I finally solved the problem.
Checking all I could imagine to check, I finally took a look at the mixer settings again and tried some different settings.
The total amount of options offered is too big to try them all by hand, so I wrote a small script using amixer to automatically move through all possible permutations of the settings in a simple on/off style with a small sleep in between while playing a simple wav file in the background with mplayer.
After a couple of minutes the machine indeed cranked out some sound.
Apparently audacity has changed my "line jack sense" setting. Reverting it was all that was needed.
Both feeling fairly stupid and happy about having solved the problem with a "brute force" script, I sincerely thank you for your efforts.