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Old 06-08-2006, 11:25 PM   #1
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Sound chip (cs4236) not working with ALSA 1.0.11 and Kernel

Hi. I've been trying to figure this one out on my own for several weeks now (on and off), and I have not come up with an adequate solution. I have an old IBM 300PL (Pentium III 550 MHz) with a Cirrus Logic 4236 Sound Chip. I have had problems with this chip before, but have managed to get it working with Fedora Core 1 and Ubuntu Breezy Badger 5.10. Before, the solution was something simple like "modprobe snd-cs4236"; however, I decided that it was time for me to try out Slackware. I picked a distribution called Zenwalk, but quickly found that the sound would be more difficult to get working. I have done extensive Googling and reading of manuals, but I can't seem to find the right direction.

I first realized that the stock Kernel ( had not been compiled with ISA support; I downloaded the sources for the kernel, compiled, and installed it with ISA support as well as the ALSA modules for the cs423x family (NOTE: I do not have OSS support compiled in the Kernel). I also updated all links to the kernel headers (I understand this is important for compiling ALSA). I was able to successfully modprobe the snd-cs4236 module provided by the kernel; alsaconf (part of the packaged ALSA that came with my distribution) found the ISA card and probed it successfully; however, alsactl did not see any sound card, alsamixer gave me "function snd_ctl_open failed for default: No such device", and amixer gave me "amixer: Mixer attach default error: No such device". This I thought was strange because lsmod showed the module as being loaded, so I thought I would remove all traces of ALSA that came with my distro and compile it from source according to the instructions for my card at

I followed the instructions up to this point:
modprobe snd-cs4236;modprobe snd-pcm-oss;modprobe snd-mixer-oss;modprobe snd-seq-oss
I was getting something like "/dev/dsp does not exist", but after reinstalling ALSA, it is failing out with a lot of "Unknown Symbol" messages in dmesg. From modprobe:
WARNING: Error inserting snd_cs4231_lib (/lib/modules/ Unknown symbol in module, or unknown parameter (see dmesg)
From what I understand, ALSA replaced the modules provided by the kernel with its own. The headers for the kernel are the same ones I am using right now. If I "make modules_install", I get my snd-cs423x modules back and they are loadable; but there is no device created (is that the right way to think about it?). The snd-cs4236 ALSA modules do not want to load at all, and from what I can tell there may be some kind of header mismatch? Could someone tell me what happens between the module being loaded and the device talking to ALSA? (or better yet, tell me where I have gone horribly wrong?) Thanks!
Old 06-09-2006, 02:56 AM   #2
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Do not compile ALSA that the kernel includes unless you know what version it uses. The version that it uses depends what ALSA library and ALSA utilities you have to use. I recommend do not waste your time enabling ALSA in the kernel. Just waste your time setting soundcore as a module. Download ALSA drivers, libraries and utilities from Next compile them. I do not recommend using alsaconf because it can mess up your /etc/modules.conf or /etc/modprobe.conf file.

I recommend using && to seperate different commands when compiling programs or modules (drivers) because it makes sure each step is a successful run before executing the next command. Programmers that include ; to seperate commands for compilng programs or modules are idiotes and they should be hung.
Old 06-09-2006, 03:25 PM   #3
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Registered: Jun 2006
Location: Mississauga
Distribution: Zenwalk 2.6
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Thanks for the reply Electro; I followed your advice and stopped worrying about kernel modules and focused on ALSA instead. I found one more link to the old kernel headers that I had not changed and corrected it. I then ran "make uninstall" and "make clean" for alsa-driver, alsa-lib, and alsa-utils. I rebooted and made sure there were no traces of ALSA left, then I compiled and installed the alsa packages again, including support for all sound cards. The kernel modules then worked; however, I found out that the device needed the snd-cs4231 module (not the snd-cs4236 module--this was not my original problem anyways). I added "/sbin/modprobe snd-cs4231" to my /etc/rc.d/rc.modules and I am now able to play sound! Thanks for getting me on the right track.


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