Troubleshooting Volume and Sound Card Configuration in Debian


I had a problem with gnome-volume-control. It didn’t save my volume control settings and displayed a mute sign on every startup.

While trying to solve this issue, I did something (I don’t remember what it was) that totally messed my sound configuration and now gnome-volume-control stopped working at all. Today I solved this problem and thought that I should write it here may be some one would find it useful. Please note that these instructions are written for Gnome. You can use these settings for KDE too but for that you will have to set sound system to use Alsa.

The first step is to make sure that you have following packages installed:

  • alsa-base
  • alsa-source
  • alsa-tools
  • alsa-tools-gui
  • alsa-utils

ALSA is Advanced Linux Sound Architecture. It provides sound drivers and provides audio and MIDI functionality to Linux Operating System. With the above packages installed we are now equipped to move on. Now start the Terminal and run:

# alsaconf

Remember that # sign tells you that the command should be entered with super user privileges.

This command will start a wizard ‘Alsa Configurator’ to assist you configure your ALSA settings. Read and follow the instructions, they are self explanatory and you just need to press the enter button on your keyboard. This script automatically closes gnome-volume-control and a notification appears informing you about that and asking you whether or not you want to reload gnome-volume-control applet. Choose Don’t load or do nothing and press the Reload button when you are done with Alsa Configurator script.

gnome volume icon Now if you pressed the Don’t load button then you will have to start gnome-volume-control. I will tell you only the easiest way. Move your mouse to the panel, right click and select Add to Panel and then add Volume Control applet. Double click the volume icon on your panel and set the sound. Don’t worry we are going to test it later.

Exit volume control and type

# alsactl store

now run

# speaker-test

You hear the sound?

Yes: Thats good now close the terminal to get rid of this annoying noise. You can now set your volume control settings to your desired levels.

No: Try again, reboot your system and they try to play some music or sound files. Sound doesn’t work at all? Then I suggest you read the expert advise. If the expert advise is too difficult for you to follow then you should try Debian IRC chat room for help.

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