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Note (aabuild)


There is now a Bash shell script example at aabuild.

Offical page

An official page about building a kernel with ALSA drivers...

Compiling new alsa-package

The ALSA drivers are packaged with the 2.6 kernel source, therefore it should not be necessary to install the alsa drivers package separately. If you do want to use a newer alsa-package than which is included with the kernel, you have basically two options:

Compile the alsa driver seperate from the kernel source

Disable all ALSA options in the kernel config and only enable the general Sound Support in the kernel config (if you want the old OSS sound driver, enable that too. But be aware that the old OSS modules and ALSA cannot coexist in the same kernel, so compile them as modules if you want to have the option of switching back to OSS. Do not confuse the old OSS modules with the ALSA OSS emulation).. Build and install this kernel. Then build the ALSA-drivers from the source package from It might be necessary to compile the alsa-driver package as root, since it seems to create the driver modules in the kernel source first. An alternative is to use the CVS alsa-driver; use the following command to get it:

cvs -q -f -z3 -d \
    "" \
    co -P alsa-kernel alsa-driver

Can both the OSS amd the Alsa configured as Modules ... coexist?

Versions of alsa-driver \< 1.0.2c do not appear to work well with kernel 2.6.x. Some people have problems, some do not. alsa-driver version 1.0.2c should install correctly on both kernel 2.4.x and 2.6.x. Gentoo users: Don't try to emerge the alsa-driver package as it will fail. You will need to compile it manually as root. As of kernel 2.6.3, installing alsa-driver package might not be needed, as kernel 2.6.3 already includes alsa-driver 1.0.2.

Patch the ALSA-drivers included with the kernel source

Please fill in info you have on this subject matter...

Overwrite alsa in the kernel source(updated 2006-12-26)

Get alsa-kernel from the hg (aka mercurial) repository. CVS repository stopped working as of alsa release ??. With alsa-driver >= 1.0.2c, option 1] is recommended instead. For these steps make sure you have done "make clean" in the kernel directory, for me that is /usr/src/linux. Create a temp directory of for example, /usr/local/alsa.

# mkdir /usr/local/alsa
# cd /usr/local/alsa
# hg clone alsa-kernel
# cd alsa-kernel
# rm -rf oss
# cp -a kernel/* /usr/src/linux
# rm -rf kernel/
# cp -a Documentation/* /usr/src/linux/Documentation
# rm -rf Documentation
# cp -a include/* /usr/src/linux/include/sound
# rm -rf include
# cp -a * /usr/src/linux/sound

If you need a previous version you should clone to the latest and the go back with the following command:

# hg update -C v1.0.13

This example pulls the hg version tagged v1.0.13, which corresponds to version 1.0.13. This way your integrating the desired version, and not the latest hg, which could have the potential to be broken.

After this you can configure kernel and choose alsa configuration options within your usual kernel configuration tool.


With alsa-driver >= 1.0.2c, option 1] is recommended instead. One can integrate ALSA-driver 1.0.1 into the Linux Kernel 2.6.0 or 2.6.1 source tree pretty painlessly, here's how you do it: Note, for alsa-driver 1.0.2 this will not work as there is not alsa-kernel directory in it, instead use option (3), see below...

# Unpack your kernel source in /usr/src (/usr/src/linux-2.6.1)
# Unpack alsa-driver-1.0.1 tarball into /usr/src (/usr/src/alsa-driver-1.0.1)
# cd /usr/src/alsa-driver-1.0.1/alsa-kernel
# rm -rf oss
# cp -a * /usr/src/linux-2.6.1/sound
# cd include
# cp -a * /usr/src/linux-2.6.1/include/sound
# cd ../Documentation
# cp -a * /usr/src/linux-2.6.1/Documentation

The last two are optional. One can then configure your kernel source as normal and compile, enjoy!

Warren Chartier \ Updates from James Courtier-Dutton. (aka. jcdutton)


Interesting... I just installed it the normal way. It puts drivers in /lib/modules/2.6.0/misc. I first disabled the alsa drivers in the kernel. Yours sounds very useful as I'd like to have it all in the kernel. My via82xx chipset in Gigabyte 7V-AXP (kt400) works great now. Before the mic recording wouldn't work. Are you sure you should remove the "oss" directory? Isn't that for OSS emulation? That's pretty useful for a lot of applications.

No, the OSS emulation modules are in 'linux/sound/core/oss' and 'linux/sound/core/seq/oss'. The 'linux/sound/oss' directory has the old OSS sound driver. If you need to use the old OSS sound driver then don't delete this directory. One reason you might want to use the OSS sound driver is to have the OSS '/dev/sequencer' for recording MIDI because the ALSA OSS emulation is not 100% compatible.


The OSS emulation is indeed very useful, but there is a reason (I just discovered! :) to rm -rf the oss directory from the alsa 1.0.0rc2 directory before copying over the rest of the contents to the linux-2.6.0/sound directory: the alsa 1.0.0rc2 version of the oss directory breaks the kernel build, or, at least, it broke mine (i386/building alsa as modules). There's some incapability between its Makefile and that of the linux-2.6.0 master Makefile. I didn't save the error, and I didn't fell like figuring it out, so I can't tell you exactly what it is (though there's a more or less easy way for you to find out for yourself). Leaving the original linux-2.6.0/sound/oss directory in place and only copying over the rest of the alsa 1.0.0rc2 stuff does indeed work fine.

Erik Curiel ( AT NOSPAM gaffle dot com)

The oss directory being removed is not for OSS emulation, it is where the kernel stores the old obsolete OSS-Lite drivers, why there is a Makefile for it in the alsa-drivers package I don't know. The OSS emulation is located in /usr/src/linux/sound/core/oss. Hope this helps!

Warren Chartier \ Comfirmed by James Courtier-Dutton. (aka. jcdutton)

I compiled the kernel 2.6.9 with the alsa provided with it. Is it possible to upgrade to a newer alsa version, or do i have to recompile using one of those methods ?

Yes but it is more reliable to (re)build both together. For a recipe to upgrade to the latest CVS ALSA have a look at aabuild for technical hints.

Another unofficial method


You will need to be running the 2.6.xx version kernel that you are going to compile alsa for. You will also need to have a `configured' version of the matching 2.6.xx source code. The source should be configured to include `sound', `alsa' and any sound features you want included, ie; sound card drivers, oss emulation, etc. The sound should be configured as modules. Ideally, you upgraded a working system to 2.6 and want to get any current fixes/features to solve problems with the existing 2.6.xx sound. That means you already have a working `kernel developement' environment (compiler, source files, etc.). If you installed a distribution with 2.6, you will at least need to have the source code for the 2.6 kernel and it needs to be configured like your running kernel.


Download and install the alsa source files. For each alsa package (ie; alsa-drivers, alsa-tools, etc,) running `./configure' will set up `makefiles' apropriate to your running kernel. It will match the running kernel to the linux kernel source in /usr/src/linux.2.6.xx. When compiling the alsa-tools use; ./configure --prefix=/usr. This will put alsa utility programs in /usr/bin. Otherwise they will go into /usr/local/bin.

For each package, do `make' and `make install'. REBOOT THE SYSTEM. Check if sound modules are installed; from a terminal, run; lsmod. If not, perform depmod before trying to load the sound modules. On my system (RedHat 8.0 `full install' upgraded to 2.6.1), modules do not automatically load under 2.6 as they should. I added 'modprobe' commands to /etc/rc.d/rc.local to load up the needed modules.


For volume control you will need to run; alsamixer from a terminal (it's a text based gui.) For programs that depend on OSS emulation (Gnome, pre-existing versions of xawtv?,mplayer?,xmms?,) you will also have to use an OSS volume control (the two volume controls work separately.) OSS requires BOTH volume controls, example:


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Category: Installation