I have a related question. I have the same sound problem, and I've found a number of suggies with Google. I tried a number of them, and eventually I completely broke my sound for everything; I have big feet, and it was easy to shoot them
I'm running Ubuntu and no longer get the speaker icon on the task bar. When I go to preferences and try to test my sound, I get messages like this: audiotestsrc wave=sine freq=512 ! audioconvert ! audioresample ! gconfaudiosink: Could not open audio device for playback.
I'm using USB sound because my motherboard sound is broken (hardware problem). This worked correctly under Windows, and I also had sound (except for flash video in Firefox) under Linux and could play MP3s and radio. I've done something stupid, but the HOW-TOs aren't very helpful for several reasons, and I haven't found a good primer or trouble shooting manual.
All suggies are welcome. I hope I can avoid a re-install.
Thanx - Charlie