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 * Check whether you can play sound as [[Root]]/add your user to the `audio` [[UsersAndGroups|group]]  * Check whether you can play sound as [[Root]]
 * Dummy output when switching users? Check that no user is in the `audio` [[UsersAndGroups|group]]: `fgrep -ie 'audio' /etc/group` should return `pulse` at most
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CategorySound CategorySound CategoryBugs

Translation(s): English - español - Français - Italiano

Sound playback, recording, and mixing in Debian is provided by the ALSA kernel interface, almost always in combination with a sound server. These sound-related services can, usually, be run in parallel without conflicting, and can often be integrated.

For a list of sound applications, see Multimedia

Sound servers and APIs

  • ALSA - The "Advanced Linux Sound Architecture" (ALSA) is a part of the Linux kernel that provides an interface to the kernel audio drivers. It is also a userspace library ("alsa-lib") that provides more advanced features. All sound servers ultimately rely on the ALSA kernel API, and as such, it cannot be substituted. The userspace library, however, can be replaced.

  • PipeWire - A modern multimedia server looking to eventually unify and replace PulseAudio and JACK. Also a drop-in replacement for alsa-lib.

  • PulseAudio - A sound server that sits between ALSA and user applications, aiming to provide easy automatic sound configuration for users. It also provides a more advanced application interface than ALSA and can glue ALSA and JACK together. This is the most common sound server, and is often installed by default.

  • JACK - A sound server API and sound server daemon ("jackd") aimed at professional usage that provides real-time, low-latency connections for audio and MIDI between applications.

  • OSS (Legacy) - used to be the default sound subsystem before Linux 2.4


  • BluetoothUser/a2dp - Guide for setting up Bluetooth audio on Debian.

  • MIDI - MIDI is a communication protocol to connect electronic musical instruments, computers, and audio devices. This page documents its usage in Debian.

  • SoundFormats - Information about various audio file formats/codecs, and how to work with them in Debian.


No sound: go through these steps while audio is playing in an application (music player, web browser...):

  • Check proper connection of the output jack
  • Check that your amplifier/speakers are powered on and working
  • Check that the audio playback program is unmuted/volume is raised, from inside the application, and in the system audio mixer (eg. PulseAudio volume control or alsamixer)

  • Check that your soundcard is visible, enabled, and is selected as default in the Configuration tab of the audio mixer

  • Disable any other output devices like HDMI, only enable the desired output
  • Check that your soundcard is detected by ALSA: aplay -l

    • Check that a driver/module is loaded for your sound card using lspci -knn

    • If not, identify your soundcard's PCI ID ([XXXX:XXXX]) and paste the ID here to determine if a driver is available in Debian.

    • Check if your soundcard requires an additional Firmware.

  • Check whether you can play sound as Root

  • Dummy output when switching users? Check that no user is in the audio group: fgrep -ie 'audio' /etc/group should return pulse at most

  • Verify that /var/tmp/ directory has the correct permissions (1777).

Wiki pages

A list of all pages related to Sound playback and recording:

Portal refactoring/merging in progress below this point

CategorySound CategoryBugs