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Enabling sound in GNU/Linux with ALSAmixer

This post answers the questions:

  • Why does sound not work in Bodhi LInux?
  • How do I activate sound on Linux?
  • How do I unmute ALSA mixer?
  • How do I control sound from the command line in Linux?

Sound is turned off in certain distros by default (goodness knows why) so before you hunt for drivers and take to the forums, check this first…

I’ve been having troubles with Bodhi Linux not having any sound. I gave up in the end, following various posts about changing the order of sound cards, hunting for drivers, checking for intel_snd driver and suchlike…

Thankfully, I found this post today detailing a very interesting and basic feature of `alsamixer`: “MM” means that the channel is muted, pressing ‘m’ turns it “OO” otherwise known as “on”, and does not change state when you adjust the volume.

So to cover sound troubleshooting basics first, make sure alsamixer is not muted! Run:

$> alsamixer

This opens the ALSA sound mixer.


Note under each bar, the value is either “MM” or “OO” (my understanding is that if your sound device is Mono, then a single “M” or “O” will show). Move the red highlighter with the arrow keys. Press ‘m’ to toggle between muted and on. You should only need to turn on Master and PCM as minimum, but you might also want to turn on others.

Press the Esc key to exit the mixer.

It would have saved me a lot of time to know that even if I was adjusting the volumes in the mixer that the device itself had to be turned on. In a way, it’s my fault for solely relying on rofum guidance, and not checking the man page – it’s all in the introductory text!

$> man alsamixer

So today I learned that I still need to RTFM. Oh well.

Posted in Linux, Tai's FWA

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