Mystery of the Missing Sound

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Mystery of the Missing Sound

Postby zerubbabel » 2018-11-14 08:16

I am experiencing something very strange for the past couple of weeks. I am running Debian Testing/Buster on a Dell Latitude E6540 (i7, 4 cores, 16 GB) and when I boot my laptop and login, there is no sound. When I go to Preferences>Sound, there are no sound devices, although my USB headset is plugged in. Thinking it was the result of a recent update, I reverted back to my previous configuration with Timeshift, then after the reboot, the sound is working normally. But then if I power down and then reboot, the sound is gone again. So then, I went back to an earlier configuration with Timeshift, and after the reboot, the sound is working again, but again, as soon as I reboot, it is gone again. What is going on?
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Re: Mystery of the Missing Sound

Postby bw123 » 2018-11-14 14:55

I have seen this discussed on the forum, but I haven't been through it, or noticed exactly what the issue is. I don't know whether it is ALSA, PA, or some hardware issue. Some people claim booting to windows "unsticks" the hardware somehow, some people say it could be a jack detection issue. Some people say it is a pulseaudio quirk and needs a little tweaking. There also could be power state issues I would guess.

There are some discussions about it, so forum search might help? Like I said, I really haven't been able to make sense of the threads.

I only use ALSA and I always use root to run 'alsactl init' on a new install, even if sound works. Then as a regular user, I use alsamixer to mute/unmute what I want, set volume for master and pcm, whatever. Then when it's working I use root again and run "alsactl store" and this seems to be pretty reliable.

If I had a hardware doing this, I would probably ID the specific sound chip by pci:id (lspci -nn) and look that up for similar issue. Many sound drivers have parameters for power saving, and other things. You can ID the module being used with lspci -k and see the parameters with modinfo command. You can set the parameters in /etc/modprobe.d

Restoring from a backup seems a little heavy-handed for an issue like this, maybe? That doesn't solve anything, it just means you will have to deal with it again in the future.
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Re: Mystery of the Missing Sound

Postby zerubbabel » 2018-11-14 16:30

Hmmm... I hadn't even thought of it as being a hardware problem, as I've been running Debian Testing on this machine for over a year now without any sound issues at all, so I suspected an update as being the culprit, which is why I reverted to the snapshot from a date before I started experiencing this problem. I really don't know anything about ALSA vs. pulseaudio, but have tried to keep my system as "vanilla" as possible.

When I'm in the state where sound is missing, pulseaudio is not running and trying to start it with "pulseaudio --start" fails.
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Re: Mystery of the Missing Sound

Postby bw123 » 2018-11-14 16:44

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Re: Mystery of the Missing Sound

Postby zerubbabel » 2018-11-14 17:23

Thanks, but the workaround suggested in that bug report didn't solve my problem. Maybe the next update will fix it.
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Re: Mystery of the Missing Sound

Postby zerubbabel » 2018-11-18 19:34

Well, I'm sad to say that after a year of happily running Debian Testing, I had to go back to Linux Mint in order to get sound to work again. First I tried re-installing Stretch from scratch, after which PulseAudio worked fine. Then I upgraded to Testing, with all updates applied, and again there was no audio. So I'm running Mint for now...
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Re: Mystery of the Missing Sound

Postby milomak » 2018-11-18 21:33

did you try to run your system as alsa?
Desktop: iMac Late-2015 27" 5K Retina (17,1 - 3.3GHz) - MacOS and Windows 10 (Bootcamp)/ Debian Sid (External SSD)
Laptop: Lenovo ideapad Y700 [nVidia Optimus] (64-bit) - Debian Sid, Win10,
Kodi Box: AMD Athlon 5150 APU w/Radeon HD 8400 - Debian Sid
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Re: Mystery of the Missing Sound

Postby zerubbabel » 2018-11-19 08:14

Well, I did uninstall pulseaudio and then reboot, but still there was no audio. I don't understand all the workings of alsa and pulseaudio, so perhaps someone more knowledgeable could have gotten it working, I just couldn't afford any more time to tinker with it.
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