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We would ideally need a crash output to better understand what happens with your system when you select the sound device. If you could try searching for dmesg after you experience this crash you maybe able to find some more detail on this.
As for selecting the input source for Skype I have often had similar irritants. The best way I have found for fixing this is to install padevchooser. This creates a tray icon that allows the selection of the default "source" from a list of all the available. Depending on your requirements you should either be able to toggle this or enter the volume control option, recording tab and use the drop down box to select which input device you would like to use for Skype.
Please let us know if this solves the problem,
Sorry, but nothing gets added to dmesg when that gui goes down (just double checked). I'm not sure where else it might be reported.
As to padevchooser, I went ahead and installed it, but I'm going to have to spend some time figuring it out. Tried to just run it, but nothing seemed to happen. If it's a notification bar thing, that may be why. Unity doesn't seem to like to play nice with that.
Okay just to be concise in what you can see can I get either a couple of screenshots of pavucontrol showing the input, output and configuration windows or can you confirm the following for me.
"Configuration" tab has Internal Audio with the profile set to stereo duplex and your usb headset. Can you also confirm that the profile set for the headset is not "off".
Can you tell me what profile your usb headset is set to if it isn't off?
Can you check that during playback of an mp3 or other sound there is an button that appears in playback allowing you to select your device output.
These are me trying to just double check that the headset isn't just disabled as being management by pulseaudio so sorry if you have already checked these.
Unfortunately, I committed a cardinal sin and made things worse. I was fiddling around, trying to get it working, and found that analog input was working for the headset! I fiddled some more and found I could get Digital Output (I forget which one) selected for Internal Audio, and boom. Headset was playing sound.
Then I fiddled some more, hoping to get both devices selectable from a menu (like volume control).
Boom. Nothing worked.
As you can see in the screenshot, even though I have two hardware devices enabled with what I think are the right profiles, the only thing that shows up available for playback is "Dummy Output".
The interesting part (to me) is that the login sound still works ... but once I'm logged in, nothing. Sound is then being piped to Dummy Output rather than anything useful.
Ok ... not sure what's changed, but going through a few unity updates and compiz updates (getting desktop cube working with unity ... joy). Now I have my main speakers working again on Analog Stereo Duplex. I can't get the headphones working with any of the settings, and /had/ both devices selectable, but while changing between digital output and digital output with analog input, lost the headset device in the volume monitor. Something there is wigging out.