Translation(s): English - Fran├žais - Italiano


Open Sound System is a set of device driver for accessing sound cards and other sound devices under various UNIX operating systems. OSS has been derived from the Linux Sound Driver. Under Linux it is considered legacy, replaced by ALSA. Under GNU/kFreeBSD it is the native sound system.

Open Sound System 4

OSS4 in Debian

OSS4 packages are, as of March 2020, present only in DebianUnstable and DebianOldOldStable.


Test the sound config by running aumix audio mixer.

/dev/XXX: Permission denied add your user to the audio group, or try to play audio as Root.

/dev/XXX: Device or resource busy, is device in use?: another process could be blocking access to OSS. List processes using the devices using /bin/fuser -v /dev/dsp; /usr/sbin/lsof | grep dsp; /usr/sbin/lsof | grep pcm

Send any file (set the volume low!) directly to the audio device: cat anyfile >/dev/dsp

No such device: OSS is not properly loaeded. Check loaded modules with lsmod

Can't find a suitable libao driver: try installing libsamplerate0. Use libmad/madplay as an alternative (sample rate above 48KHz)

ALSA-OSS emulation

To make OSS applications work with ALSA, install the alsa-oss package, and load the module with modprobe snd_pcm_oss; modprobe snd_mixer_oss.

You can use user-space mode emulation for a single program: aoss myprogram

See also:


Recent versions of Debian ship the oss-compat package which ensures that OSS support is provided in some way. On Linux, it enables the ALSA compatibility modules. On other kernels where OSS is the default interface, no action is taken. On Linux platforms a better approach nowadays is to use osspd, which emulates OSS devices using ALSA or PulseAudio.

Upstream specific information

Other information

CategorySound CategoryLegacy CategorySoftware