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Old 09-16-2011, 07:40 AM   #1
Solar Granulation
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Registered: Jul 2009
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Distribution: openSUSE 11.3
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Sound only available to one application at a time with ALSA under KDE4 on openSUSE

First, if this is in the wrong forum, I apologise. I wasn't sure whether it counted more as a software or hardware issue, so I put it here because it seemed broader. Now, onto the problem.

My sound system is only available to one application at a time. That is, if I start one application (e.g. Audacity) it has unfettered access to input and output, but if I start a second (e.g. LMMS) then it does not have access. If one application is accessing ALSA, no other can.

The exception is that if one application (e.g. flash) is accessing output but not input, then another can access input.

I'm running openSUSE 11.3 with KDE and ALSA.

I have Jack installed but have no idea whatsoever how to use it. It boggles my mind.

My sound card is onboard, Realtek ALC889A. I'm not sure how to identify it beyond that. I do also have a very old sound blaster card, but it's not currently in use.

I'm totally lost. I don't know what log files might shed light, or anything. I've tried to understand how Linux/ALSA works with sound and I just can not get a grip on it.

Please feel free to ask for more information, but please also tell me how to find it.

My thanks to anyone with any ideas.
Old 09-16-2011, 08:33 AM   #2
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Registered: Jan 2011
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Jack is overkill

Jack is WAY overkill to solve your issue. Yes, ALSA only allows a single process to use the sound devices at a time. You need some daemon to multiplex the different applications; this is usually the job of artsd on kde. I don't know if kde4 still has artsd.

You should be able to set ALSA to use software mixing for devices using a recipe like this:
Old 09-16-2011, 10:18 AM   #3
Solar Granulation
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Registered: Jul 2009
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Distribution: openSUSE 11.3
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Thank you! That was very helpful and several applications now access input and output simultaneously!

However, there are a couple of hold outs. So far Amarok and Flash both try to grab the whole device and report "device busy" if another application is accessing them through the new configuration.


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