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Old 02-29-2008, 08:43 PM   #1
Registered: Feb 2008
Distribution: Kubuntu 11.10 64-bits
Posts: 70

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Talking Fix For "[ao_alsa] Playback Open Error: Device Or Resource Busy. No coding!!

Hey guys,

Have you ever had that error when trying to play sound from terminal

[AO_ALSA] Playback open error: Device or resource busy
Or oustide terminal while loading software such as Amarok you get something like

xine engine unable to load sound drivers
Well there is a super simple fix for that. It might not work, cuz there could be 100s of causes, but check on this one in case.

First, just to make sure the fix will do what it's meant for (fixing!), type the following in terminal

lsof /dev/snd/{whatever your device name is, similar to "pcmC0D1p"}
You can get the device name in terminal when you type the following and get the sound error which is the subject of this post

It will show something like

[AO_ALSA] alsa-lib: pcm_hw.c:1099:(snd_pcm_hw_open) open /dev/snd/pcmC0D1p failed: Device or resource busy
Then go back to the step about the lsof command. Check if you have anything showing. If the lsof command lists nothing, then your problem is something else and look elsewhere. But if lsof lists something, it means those things are using the sound device, and most probably in an exclusive manner which means nothing else can start the device.

The culprit? The stupid "Sound File preview" function in KDE!!
You can uncheck that option from 2 places:

-right-click desktop
-choose behavior
-file icon tab
-uncheck "sound files"

The other way is through kcontrol, this first one is a lot easier though.
Then reboot (restarting X is enough, I think).
And then do another lsof typing. And nothing will show!! Now start Amarok or anything else.

That problem happened to me when I tried to force all sounds through SPDIF. Analog I had no problem, but through SPDIF it was always busy until I found that workaround.

Last edited by Frank64; 03-03-2008 at 04:30 PM.
Old 03-02-2008, 07:22 AM   #2
Registered: Jun 2001
Location: UK
Distribution: Gentoo, RHEL, Fedora, Centos
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well that's one cause, there are many many more...
Old 03-03-2008, 04:28 PM   #3
Registered: Feb 2008
Distribution: Kubuntu 11.10 64-bits
Posts: 70

Original Poster
Rep: Reputation: 15
Correct. I just figured my post wasn't clear enough about that so I will edit it. tnx.


alsa, busy, device, sound, spdif

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