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1. Introduction

This is the Linux Sound HOWTO. It is intended as a quick reference covering everything you need to know to install and configure sound support under Linux. Frequently asked questions about sound under Linux are answered, and references are given to some other sources of information on a variety of topics related to computer generated sound and music.

The scope is limited to the aspects of sound cards pertaining to Linux. See the other documents listed in the References section for more general information on sound cards and computer sound and music generation.

1.1 Acknowledgments

Much of this information came from the documentation provided with the sound driver source code, by Hannu Savolainen ( Thanks go to Hannu and the many other people who developed the Linux kernel sound drivers and utilities.

Thanks to the SGML Tools package, this HOWTO is available in several formats, all generated from a common source file.

1.2 Revision History

Version 1.1

first version; posted to SOUND channel of Linux activists mailing list only

Version 1.2

minor updates; first version available on archive sites

Version 1.3

converted to SGML; now available in several formats using Matt Welsh's Linuxdoc-SGML tools; appearance changed due to new format, only minor changes to content

Version 1.4

minor tweaking of SGML; added answer on PAS16 and Adaptec1542A SCSI adaptor incompatibilities

Version 1.5

2.5a sound driver is now in 1.1 kernel distribution; note on GUS-MAX support; other minor updates

Version 1.6

added info on "no space on device" error; added note that Hacker's Guide is in a "hidden" directory; added question on bidirectional mode; info on "device busy" errors; other minor changes

Version 1.7

added info on ASP and AWE32; VoxWare 2.9 is available; answer to question on using IRQ2; references to Sound and SCSI HOWTOs

Version 1.8

added question on errors under DOS; many minor things updated to match the version 2.90 sound driver; info on DOOM; answer on reducing noise

Version 1.9

questions on recording and clone cards

Version 1.10

mentioned that HOWTO is available on WWW, as printed copies, and translations; info on DMA conflict with QIC tape driver; info on Sound Galaxy NX Pro and Logitech BusMouse

Version 1.11

A long overdue update (I've been busy); document placed under GPL; brought up to date with version 3.0 sound driver; info on many new supported sound card drivers; more info on configuration and troubleshooting; lots of HTML links added; brought in line with format of CD-ROM HOWTO

Version 1.12

new sound drivers in 1.3.34 kernel; new sound device names; 1542 address is 334 not 333; clarify status of Creative Labs Emu and ASP; pointer to Creative Labs and MediaTrix Web sites

Version 1.13

note on the name VoxWare; updated to reflect latest supported sound cards and configuration options; question on Plug and Play support; question on block size problem; new xconfig and menuconfig options; modutils has sound device support; vger mailing list going away; emphasize author's Web site; other miscellaneous minor changes

Version 1.14

Audio Excell DSP16 is not currently supported (should be working again in a few months); changes to configure program; Italian version of HOWTO available; trick for setting mixer gains when loading sound module; latest stable kernel is now 2.0; new name for sound driver; question on root permissions on sound device files

Version 1.15

removed some questions that were very old and now obsolete; new e-mail address for author; fixed some links to point to latest software packages; more information on multimedia book; minor spelling and grammatical changes

Version 1.16

many updates and corrections from Hannu Savolainen; added six month "best before" date; new URL to web page for book; added link to Spanish translation; minor spelling and grammatical changes

Version 1.17

Chinese version available; alternate GUS driver; packet radio modem; Linux Multimedia guide is now available in French and Japanese; references to a couple of relevant mini-HOWTOs; pointer for IBM ThinkPad

Version 1.18

Korean translation available; more information on status of sound on MIPS; updated info on multiple sound card support; should be root when running fuser

1.3 New versions of this document

New versions of this document will be periodically posted to the comp.os.linux.answers newsgroup. They will also be uploaded to various anonymous ftp sites that archive such information including

Hypertext versions of this and other Linux HOWTOs are available on many World-Wide-Web sites, including Most Linux CD-ROM distributions include the HOWTOs, often under the /usr/doc directory, and you can also buy printed copies from several vendors. Sometimes the HOWTOs available from CD-ROM vendors, ftp sites, and printed format are out of date. If the date on this HOWTO is more than six months in the past, then a newer copy is probably available on the Internet.

A French translation of this document is available at

A Japanese translation is available from

An Italian translation is available from

A Spanish translation is available from

A Chinese translation is available from

A Hangul (Korean) translation is available from

Most translations of this and other Linux HOWTOs can also be found at and

If you make a translation of this document into another language, let me know and I'll include a reference to it here.

1.4 Feedback

I rely on you, the reader, to make this HOWTO useful. If you have any suggestions, corrections, or comments, please send them to me,, and I will try to incorporate them in the next revision.

I am also willing to answer general questions on sound cards under Linux, as best I can. Before doing so, please read all of the information in this HOWTO, and send me detailed information about the problem. Please do not ask me about using sound cards under operating systems other than Linux.

If you publish this document on a CD-ROM or in hardcopy form, a complimentary copy would be appreciated. Mail me for my postal address. Also consider making a donation to the Linux Documentation Project to help support free documentation for Linux. Contact the Linux HOWTO coordinator, Greg Hankins, for more information.

1.5 Distribution Policy

Copyright 1995-1997 Jeff Tranter.

This HOWTO is free documentation; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation; either version 2 of the License, or (at your option) any later version.

This document is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but without any warranty; without even the implied warranty of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. See the GNU General Public License for more details.

You can obtain a copy of the GNU General Public License by writing to the Free Software Foundation, Inc., 675 Mass Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.

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