External SBLive! on Mandriva 2010.0 – How To Get It To Work

External USB soundcards are pretty rare, at least where I live. And they don’t work under Linux out of the box – at least my SBLive! doesn’t. Yes it produces sound, but the volume control doesn’t behave properly and there’s no 5.1. And when you plug headphones in, the speakers still work. Here’s how to fix it:

I use Mandriva 2010.0 but I guess some of the instructions are the same for any distro.

  1. (this step is for mandriva only) In the Control Centre, choose Hardware -> Sound. Go to manually select the driver and choose “snd_emu10k1”.
  2. Disable PulseAudio. It causes the volume control to misbehave, at least on my system.
  3. As root, open /etc/modprobe.conf and add this line:
    alias sound-slot-0 snd_emu10k1 (other sound devices, if you have any, should be changed to sound-slot-1, 2 etc.). Mandriva’s Control Centre should add this automatically, but sometimes it doesn’t.
  4. Restart the computer. Go to BIOS settings, disable the integrated soundcard.
  5. (mandriva only) The Control Centre will say  that you have no sound card, but you do!
  6. The volume control applet will disappear forever (saying it’s obsolete or something). Create a launcher to gnome-alsamixer (on GNOME) or whatever graphical mixer you have on KDE.

The mixer will have 2 sliders: PCM and Mic. There’s also a Mute flag and 2 flags that control the LED lights on the soundcard. You can switch the lights on and off, though it has no purpose.

When you plug headphones in, you’ll have to mute and unmute the sound to turn it on. The same goes for plugging headphones out.

Otherwise, everything works. MIDI works perfectly with QSynth. Recording audio works very fine.

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