Independent ALSA and linux audio support site

Quick Install

From the ALSA wiki

Jump to: navigation, search


Installing ALSA from source

This document describes installing ALSA from source code. For installing ALSA from binary distro packages see ALSA Setup Guide. You don't have to do this though, there are binary packages available. If you are using Red Hat, see for RPM packages. There are debian packages available, too. You can also choose to install the drivers from source (to make sure they fit your kernel) and install the libs, utilities etc. as binary packes. Debian users choosing to do this should run

   apt-get install libasound2 alsa-utils alsa-oss

Kernel 2.6.XXX users:

If you have a kernel from the series, ALSA is already included, so it's not necessary to do all these steps. If you have a 2.6-kernel and want to install a newer version of ALSA than the one included, check out AlsaBuild2.6.

1. Requirements

Make sure you have a kernel source tree that you've already compiled from. This should be in /usr/src/linux but the alsa configure scripts will look elsewhere with the "--with-kernel=[dir]" option when running 'configure'. The kernel must have sound support turned ON in your kernel settings (soundcore module). Any other kernel options regarding sound can be switched OFF. Of course, you need a sound card that is supported by ALSA. Check out the ALSA sound card matrix.

2. Getting the sources

You can download the sources from the front page of the ALSA home page: I recommend you get the drivers, the libraries, the utils and the OSS compat modules to start with. Next, put them into some directory, e.g. /usr/src/alsa:

   mkdir /usr/src/alsa
   cp downloaddir/alsa* /usr/src/alsa

To unpack the files:

   tar jxvf alsa-driver-xxx.tar.bz2

The same applies to the other packages you downloaded.

CVS: You can also get the newest sources from CVS. See AlsaCVS

3. Compiling and installing

Note: To avoid problems, stick to the order the modules are installed here, i.e. first the drivers, then the libs, then the rest.

To compile & install the drivers:

   cd alsa-driver-xxx
   ./configure --with-sequencer=yes && make
   make install

The configure command can take some options, like --with-sequencer=yes. To get a complete list of all options:

   ./configure --help

Some of the most important options:

   --with-kernel=dir          give the directory with kernel
                              sources default: /usr/src/linux
   --with-isapnp=yes,no,auto  driver will (not) be compiled with
                              ISA PnP support
   --with-sequencer=yes,no    driver will (not) be compiled with sequencer support
   --with-oss=no,yes          driver will (not) be compiled with OSS/Free emulation
   --with-cards=<list>        compile driver for cards in <list>;
                              cards may be separated with commas;
                              'all' compiles all drivers;
                              Possible cards are:
                              dummy, virmidi, serial-u16550, mtpav,
                              als100, azt2320, cmi8330, [...]]

If you don't have ISA, you can safely add --with-isapnp=no. If you only have one card (e.g. SB Live) and aren't planning to add any others, you can add --with-cards=emu10k1 or whatever the module for your card is called. The ./snddevices command creates the audio devices in /dev/snd. make install and ./snddevices must be done as root, the rest can be done as any user.

ALSA libraries

This is straightforward:

   cd alsa-lib-xxx
   ./configure && make
   make install

ALSA Utils

These include the alsamixer program and other very useful helpers. Note: The alsamixer requires a dev packages for ncurses, for debian/sid this is 'libncurses5-dev'.

   cd alsa-utils-xxx
   ./configure && make
   make install

ALSA OSS compat modules

   cd alsa-oss-xxx
   ./configure && make
   make install

4. Loading the ALSA modules

Now insert the modules into the kernel space.

   modprobe snd-ens1371
   modprobe snd-pcm-oss
   modprobe snd-mixer-oss
   modprobe snd-seq-oss

If you get an "init_module: No such device" error when you run this modprobe command, make sure that you uninstall all the sound related modules first. Use lsmod to check the installed modules and rmmod to uninstall. Then modprobe the new modules. See Troubleshooting for other solutions. To make module loading permanent, you have to add these lines to /etc/modules.conf (for Debian users, this means you have to create a file with these lines in /etc/modutils and the do update-modules). Kernel 2.6 users note: module settings now go into /etc/modprobe.conf (Debian users: just copy the module-info file from /etc/modutils/ to /etc/modprobe.d/ and run update-modules).

Note: These next lines are valid for a machine with one SB Live!. For your settings, see the ALSA sound card matrix details for your soundcard!

   # alsa/soundblaster live module settings
   # (from the alsa soundcard matrix)

   # ALSA portion
   alias char-major-116 snd
   alias snd-card-0 snd-emu10k1

   # module options should go here

   # OSS/Free portion
   alias char-major-14 soundcore
   alias sound-slot-0 snd-card-0

   # card #1
   alias sound-service-0-0 snd-mixer-oss
   alias sound-service-0-1 snd-seq-oss
   alias sound-service-0-3 snd-pcm-oss
   alias sound-service-0-8 snd-seq-oss
   alias sound-service-0-12 snd-pcm-oss

Loading soundcard settings on startup:

The 'make install' options of the ALSA drivers creates a file /etc/init.d/alsasound (if not, this file is also in alsa-driver-xxx/utils and should be copied to /etc/init.d, then chmod 755) which takes care of saving and loading the mixer settings etc. on bootup and shutdown, but you have to create links manually to let this actually happen, otherwise your mixer settings will always be resetted when you shut down:

   % ln -s /etc/init.d/alsasound /etc/rcS.d/S59alsasound
   % ln -s /etc/init.d/alsasound /etc/rc1.d/K15alsasound
   % ln -s /etc/init.d/alsasound /etc/rc6.d/K15alsasound

5. Getting started

If everything worked out correctly, you can now use your sound card! So, first of all, adjust your soundcards volume levels. All mixer channels are muted by default. You must use a native mixer program to unmute appropriate channels, e.g. alsamixer from the alsa-utils package


Note: Some soundcards don't utilise the alsamixer program so you will need to learn how to use the amixer program. Unmute the 'Master' and 'PCM' levels and pull them up, also look for a "Headphone" slider, and if it exists pull that up as well - if everything worked out, you should be able to playback music now. If not, check out the 'Troubleshooting' section.


If modprobe snd-sb16 says that you don't have the Sound Blaster card, first try to install isapnp packages (they are named isapnptools and libisapnp-dev, on debain) then you nead to add the line "options snd-sb16 isapnp=0" to your /etc/modules.conf file if you have kernel2.4 (or to /etc/modutils/alsa file on debian and run update-modules)

If anything doesn't work, the first thing to do is to check the FAQ and make sure you've got the latest version of ALSA. Some special problems are listed here: If playback still doesn't work after installation and programs give errors like 'Can't open default sound device!' (In this case, the message was given by mpg123), try this:

   chmod 666 /dev/snd/*

and, if you have the OSS modules installed:

   chmod 666 /dev/mixer* /dev/midi* /dev/dsp* /dev/sequencer*

Note: This has to be done as root.

Retrieved from ""

Category: Installation