Aid audio troubleshooting (as a whole)

Registered by David Henningsson on 2009-01-04

We need a script/utility that can detect - and possibly correct - errors in audio configuration as a whole, taking at least ALSA. Pulseaudio and GStreamer into account (but support for OSS, Phonon/xine, Jack, etc would make it even better).

Blueprint information

Needs approval
Series goal:
Beta Available
Milestone target:
milestone icon ubuntu-10.04
Started by
David Henningsson on 2010-02-07


Here are examples of what this guide could detect:

- ALSA volumes down or mute buttons activated
- Default ALSA output (through pulse or not?)
- Default Pulse output
- Pulse volumes down
- Errors in Pulse per-application settings (volume-restore.table)
- GStreamer default output (basically the settings under System -> Preferences -> Sound)
- Whether JackD is running or not

Implementation idea:

First generation of this feature should just collect information and send it to pastebin or something similar, just as

Second generation could also check for common errors and inform the user that something needs to be done.

Third generation of this feature could also try to auto-correct some of the common errors, if the user allows it to do so. (Careful steps must be taken to make sure it doesn't mess things up instead...)


David Henningsson, 2009-02-17: This project is currently stalled due to lack of good suggestions/feedback from other people (that means YOU ;-) ). If you like to see more of this project becoming reality, you can try out the script in the branch linked to this blueprint, and drop me a note about it. Or, you can discuss good ideas for coming generation(s) of this blueprint.


David Rose, 2009-06-09: Just some suggestions:
- When a user clicks System -> Preferences -> Sound, the first tab a user views shows their computers' sound source (whether from the motherboard or from an add-on card) with a drop-down giving them the ability to change the source being used.
- A Sound "Troubleshoot" button can also be added to the same tab walking a user through simple questions about settings and the physical setup of their speakers, microphone, etc. Also, links can be created within the troubleshooter that carry the user to the window where they can modify that particular setting.
- Or a "Sound Tools" can be created under System -> Administration -> Sound Tools (for example) to aid a user with their sound setup.


David Henningsson, 2009-06-10:

I'm glad to see that I'm not the only one caring about this issue. If it was discussed at uds-karmic, what were the results of that discussion? David Rose's suggestions seems like a good approach, perhaps it should be discussed with GNOME developers if we want it to be a part of GNOME.

As for the alsaconf script, it was interesting to see that such a script existed. It seemed a bit obsoleted though? Also, a lot of these tools works with one sound component only (in this case alsa), the basic thought when I first wrote this blueprint was that we need a tool that can work with all layers (alsa, pulseaudio, gstreamer etc) and verify the connections between them.

Jerryroy, it seems like your text was lost when I clicked the "give feedback" button, sorry. Anyway, auto-correcting errors at logon must be done very carefully to make sure we don't mess things up instead of correcting them. I suggest we delay that thought and reconsider it once we have a good tool that can correct errors when the user clicks a button.


David Henningsson 2009-09-19:

I'm thinking of integrating this in apport. Sound troubleshooting could be an apport symptom.


David Henningsson 2010-02-07:

A first version of an apport symptom has now been integrated into Lucid. You can test it with the "ubuntu-bug audio" terminal command.


Work Items