No sound from KDE / ARTS

Clinton E. Troutman clint.troutman at
Tue May 15 15:54:32 BST 2007

On Tuesday 15 May 2007, Kev Gilbert wrote:
> I have a R60 ThinkPad running FC6 with latest yum updates. The problem is
> that I cannot get KDE to make any sounds. Using system-config-soundcard
> does produce the expected sounds but not a peep from Control Centre /
> Sound & Multimedia / Sound System / Test.
> Any thoughts?
> Problem Solving Algorithm:
>  1) Write down problem
>  2) Think really hard
>  3) Write down answer
> - Richard Feynman
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I've had an issue that sounds amazingly similar on my desktop machine. I haven't actually solved the problem permanently, but I'll relay what I've discovered and workarounds I've implemented...
I'm using FC5 on this machine with KDE 3.5.6-4.fc5 and the following alsa components:
The original soundcard on this machine is an integrated VIA Technologies 82C686A/B.

On initial bootup and first login, most often no sound.
I learned I could go to Settings; Sound & Multimedia; Sound System and, in the Hardware Tab, select the audio device from the drop-down list and click "Apply". That restarted the sound system and I got sound when clicking the "Test" button in the "General" tab. Then logout of KDE and log back in; I had sound...
If the KDE startup sound played during login, I knew I had sound for the remainder of that session.

Subsequently, I upgraded the soundcard with a PCI C-Media CM18738-MC6. I did not disable the integrated VIA in the BIOS as that caused an initial problem (now, just don't care or need to disable the integrated card).
Since installing the new card, on initial boot, I sometimes have to use system-config-soundcard to tell the machine to use the C-Media card as default (the machine sometimes wants to use the "first" card it finds; the VIA). Then implement the workaround described in the previous paragraph. Then logout of KDE and log back in; I have sound for the remainder of that session.

I also noticed that having a USB webcam with integrated microphone fouled things up. If that cam was plugged in during boot, KDE sound system would not play and I received an error during sound system restart. Also, plugging in that webcam after bootup, trying to restart the sound system resulted in the same error, Booting without the webcam solved the problem (well, solved to the extent I could workaround it...)
Since the last time I unplugged the webcam and left it unplugged, for some unknown reason the machine boots with the correct soundcard selected and with sound in KDE nearly every time.

Upgrades to FC5, KDE, kernel, and alsa components (over time) have not affected the problem either positively or negatively in any way I can determine.

In my case, since this is a desktop machine, KDE sessions last for days/weeks at a time, so this has not been more than an inconvenience for me. 
In your case, with a laptop cycling power more frequently, it may be more of a problem, but maybe the above info will give you some ideas or workarounds that work for you.

Clinton E. Troutman
Independent Computer Consultant for Home,
  Home Office, and Small Business in Fort Worth, Texas
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