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GNU/Linux Desktop Survival Guide
by Graham Williams
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Dell SBLive Sound Card


The sound card turns out not to be a real SB Live! soundcard, and was not originally supported by GNU/Linux. The onboard sound card which worked just fine, although it does not have the features of the SB Live! This means that you can't listen to Audio CD music directly, since the drive is plugged into the broken sound card.

Newer versions of the kernel do support the sound card (at least from 2.6.11). The two soundcards are identified:

  $ lspci | grep audio
  0000:00:1f.5 Multimedia audio controller: Intel Corp. 
               82801EB/ER (ICH5/ICH5R) AC'97 Audio Controller (rev 02)
  0000:01:07.0 Multimedia audio controller: Creative Labs 
               [SB Live! Value] EMU10k1X

See Section 7.1.2 for details on setting up the sound cards.

Some applications play badly on the SB Live! sound card. It is very choppy (e.g., with realplay for example, but not xmms). This is fixed, it seems, by sending output to the OSS driver rather than the ALSA driver.

Since there are two soundcards in the machine, the simplest approach to making the SB Live! the default is to add both soundcards to /etc/modprobe.d/sound:

alias snd-card-0 snd-emu10k1x
options snd-emu10k1x index=0
alias snd-card-1 snd-intel8x0
options snd-intel8x0 index=1

This seemed to only work randomly. So add snd_intel8x0 to /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist to see if that helps.

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