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Old 15th October 2009
RJPugh RJPugh is offline
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Default Dell Dimension 4550 sound card problem

Greetings! I’m a refugee from the world of Linux, and I’ve been using PC-BSD for over a year now. I know that PC-BSD has some bad points, but on the whole I’m happy with it. I recently acquired a newer computer, a Dell Dimension 4550 series desktop. It may be an older model, but it’s newer and in better condition than the one it replaced. PC-BSD installed on this beast without any problem… except for the sound card. The system claims it’s unable to use it, though according to the diagnostics, it knows the card is in there.

The card is a Creative Labs Sound Blaster Live, PCI model. Windows XP can use the card without a problem, so I’m pretty sure the card’s hardware is stable. I’ve also read that the SB-Live series is supported by BSD, so I should be able to get the thing working, perhaps after some kicking and screaming. I plan to try the following, in order:

1. Go through the process of manually configuring a sound card, according to the FreeBSD handbook.

2. Find out what driver set PC-BSD is using and try to override it.

3. Look into an OSS port (I really hope it doesn’t come to this…)

4. Acquire a different sound card that I know to be supported. I really hope it doesn’t come to this! But for all I know the current sound card may have a proprietary chip that prevents it from working in anything other than Windows (Winmodem syndrome).

PC-BSD uses KDE. I tried to play a sound file from a different window manager and it still didn’t work. So at the very least I can rule out KDE as the problem. That would have been too easy.



Another possibility is a PCI add-on card I put in there. It’s a USB/Firewire bridge card, which I put into an empty PCI slot. The system handled it without a problem, though I’m now wondering if it has created a memory problem on the PCI bridge. If this card is the problem, it won’t be for long, as I’ve determined that it’s not going to be necessary after all. It’s going to be pulled the next time I open the case.

Can anyone think of anything else I should try? For that matter, has anyone in here ever tried to use BSD on this model of computer? PC-BSD seems happy with it… it just can’t talk yet. I hope to eventually resolve this, because the sound issue is now the only thing stopping me from making BSD my primary operating system. (I need Windows XP for gaming, but nothing else.)

Thanks in advance,


Richard
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Old 15th October 2009
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You can find general instructions for setting up your sound card here:
http://www.daemonforums.org/showthread.php?t=16

The second post has a script which detects your sound card, save it to your hard drive and run it as root.

If that doesn't work, please post the output from the following commands to provide more information about your system:
Code:
# dmesg
# pciconf -lv
As a sidenote, also make sure the volume is turned up. I don't know how the GUI KDE thing works, but from the commandline you can control it with mixer(8).
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Old 15th October 2009
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PC-BSD does both oss and sound card detection (through a database).


You should probably try the snd_emu10k1 driver before you start throwing pasta at the problem. Refer to thread in CS's post for how to load it.
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Old 16th October 2009
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Most SB LIve! cards from Dells are not emu10k1 cards: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sound_B...ve.21_Dell_OEM

They use the emu10k1x chip instead, which is not supported by the native FreeBSD drivers. If that's the chip you have, you will have to use OSS from ports or another sound card.

Adam
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Old 16th October 2009
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Sorry, I didn't know Dell made OEM versions... no wonder my old hand me down SB Live Value! was so ultra-crappy >_>
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Old 17th October 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by adamk View Post
They use the emu10k1x chip instead, which is not supported by the native FreeBSD drivers. If that's the chip you have, you will have to use OSS from ports or another sound card.
Well, that certainly explains a lot. I tried several drivers, and none of them work. Furthermore, the system would answer a "/dev/sndstat" with "No Devices Installed." That script mentioned earlier crashed my xterminal into oblivion. It wasn't pretty.

Anyway, I have the package install of the OSS port running as I write this. Hopefully after a reboot it will work OK. Or at the very least I'll be able to detect the card. I really don't want to go looking for a replacement sound card... though I will if I must.
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Old 17th October 2009
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Well, that settles that. OSS didn't work. BSD appears to be detecting the card, but won't load it, and no driver file - including OSS - works. It looks like I'll have to yank this sound card in favor of another one.

Will a standard, off-the-shelf, commercially packaged Sound Blaster 5.1 card work in FreeBSD? Even an X-Fi one? I ask because X-Fi cards seem to be the norm on the market these days.

What about a card that uses EAX? (Rocketfish, for example.) I didn't see EAX in the loader.conf file, so I'm skeptical.

In short, I'm not going to buy a new sound card unless it works in FreeBSD. Can anyone suggest one? Hopefully one that won't break my budget?
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Old 17th October 2009
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X-Fi cards do not have drivers in the base system. EAX is a sound API, not a particular type of chipset.

I am surprised that the emu10k1x chipset didn't work with OSS. What is the output of 'ossdetect' ?

Adam
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Old 18th October 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by adamk View Post
I am surprised that the emu10k1x chipset didn't work with OSS. What is the output of 'ossdetect' ?
ossdetect responded with a null hardware response. The driver went into the kernel without a problem, but BSD refused to deal with the hardware. I heard someone compare this problem to the one experienced by Winmodem users.

At any rate, I pulled the sound card and replaced it with an inexpensive one from Staples. It's a Diamond board, using I believe a CMI chipset. Whatever the case, using the various tests and procedures mentioned earlier in this thread, I was able to get this card working in BSD, and Windows XP adjusted fairly quickly as well. The funny thing is though, at least according to the system diagnostic, BSD is using two driver modules to control this card: one modules for WAV output, and another for MP3 and OOG. Strange, but it appears to be working well, so I'm not going to tinker any further.

Thanks to everyone in this thread who responded. You've all been a great help!
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Old 18th October 2009
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What system diagnostics are you referring to?

Adam
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Old 20th October 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by adamk View Post
What system diagnostics are you referring to?
When the sound card refused to respond, PC-BSD asked me if I wanted a diagnostic report. I don't remember if it had a special name. The resulting report showed probe data from the PCI bus, and a large portion of the system boot messages.

I let it save a diagnostic report to a text file, which I later examined. The gist of the messages was that the BSD kernel had a sound driver installed, but that the hardware wasn't one it could work with. I tried a variety of drivers, but none worked. When you mentioned that Dell sometimes uses proprietary chips on some of their hardware, I did some more digging. I eventually concluded that this particular series of SB cards was among the ones to have proprietary chips. Pulling and replacing the card ultimately fixed everything. Both of my operating systems are talking normally.

I know just enough about the "guts" of BSD to be dangerous. I'm slowly learning the ins and outs of the world of the Daemon, but I still tend to err on the side of caution.
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