Monday, 16 February 2009

Linux sound on the Dell 1525

Sound on my Dell 1525 notebook has always been dodgy under Linux. On windows it runs fine, but under Linux (Ubuntu 8.10) sound is very low - it only becomes audible at 50% volume, so at full volume it is quiet. The real show-stopper is that Skype is unusable since the microphone is also severely attenuated. Doing a test call on Skype results in a barely audible playback.

I've spent several hours here and there, looking for solutions. The latest adventure lead me to forum posts from 2006 which lead me from resource to resource until I finally came to SoundTroubleShooting which is probably where I should have started. From here I reached the ALSA Intel supported hardware list. Turns out my hardware is not supported:

paul@dell1525:~$ lspci | grep -i audio
00:1b.0 Audio device: Intel Corporation 82801H (ICH8 Family) HD Audio Controller (rev 02)

The ICH8 is not listed as supported hardware. The solution is to get a supported sound card.

My workaround means I'm going to have to use Vista for Skype. My Dell 1525 came with Vista and I've put Ubuntu on as a dual boot option. It's been a long time since I've booted into Vista, but the sound and Skype do work as expected there. The downside to this story is that I'm going to have to prearrange Skype calls and specifically boot into Vista at these times - rather than ad-hoc calls on a whim. Kind of takes the fun out of the internet...

If I've got this wrong, please let me know, because I'd like to just do everything from Ubuntu.

Other associated information:

paul@dell1525:~$ aplay -l
**** List of PLAYBACK Hardware Devices ****
card 0: Intel [HDA Intel], device 0: STAC92xx Analog [STAC92xx Analog]
Subdevices: 1/1
Subdevice #0: subdevice #0
card 0: Intel [HDA Intel], device 3: ATI HDMI [ATI HDMI]
Subdevices: 1/1
Subdevice #0: subdevice #0

paul@dell1525:~$ uname -r

paul@dell1525:~$ cat /proc/asound/card0/codec#0 | grep -i codec
Codec: Conexant ID 2c06


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