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Installing the Sound Card Driver on Ubuntu 5.1 for Sony VAIO PCG-505TS SuperSlim Notebook

I finally installed Ubuntu 5.1 (The Breezy Badger) Linux operating system on my Sony VAIO PCG-505TS SuperSlim Notebook. After getting over the external CD drive and wireless network hurdles (see my articles on "Burning CD's at 1X is Still Useful" and "Setting Up Wireless Network on Ubuntu 5.1" elsewhere on this site), everything seems to be working except for the sound card. For some reason, there is no sound and Ubuntu did not seem to find the sound card on this notebook computer.

After fussing with the operating system and searching on the internet, I found that the ALSA driver has to be inserted into the kernel. I know the PCG-505TS notebook has a built-in ESS AudioDrive sound card. However, I can't remember which model it is. But I figured that the 1688 chipset will work.

But before I inserted the driver, I changed directory (cd) to "/usr/share/alsa-base" and ran "snddevices" with the following command:

sudo ./snddevices

This command ensures that the sound resources are set-up correctly. The following are the output from "snddevices":

Creating mixer?...done.
Creating sequencer...done.
Creating midi0?...done.
Creating dsp?...done.
Creating audio?...done.
Creating sndstat...done.
Creating music...done.
Creating dmmidi?...done.
Creating dmfm?...done.
Creating amixer?...done.
Creating adsp?...done.
Creating amidi?...done.
Creating admmidi?...done.
create symbolic link `/dev/mixer' to `mixer0'
create symbolic link `/dev/midi' to `midi00'
create symbolic link `/dev/dsp' to `dsp0'
create symbolic link `/dev/audio' to `audio0'
create symbolic link `/dev/sequencer2' to `music'
create symbolic link `/dev/adsp' to `adsp0'
create symbolic link `/dev/amidi' to `amidi0'
rm: cannot remove `/dev/snd': Is a directory
Creating snd/control?...done.
Creating snd/seq...done.
Creating snd/timer...done.
Creating snd/hw??...done.
Creating snd/midi??...done.
Creating snd/pcm??p...done.
Creating snd/pcm??c...done.
Creating aload?...done.
Creating aloadSEQ...done.

After setting up the resources, I inserted the ESS AudioDrive 1688 driver into the kernal manually by issuing the following command:

sudo modprobe snd-es1688

This command can be executed from any directory. After inserting the driver, your applications will now have sound. But you'll have to make sure that ALSA is selected in Ubuntu's Multimedia Systems Selector. You can access this configuration window by going to "System" -> "Preferences" -> "Multimedia Systems Selector".

When you insert the driver in this manner, the system will not automatically reinsert the driver next time you boot up the system. So everytime you reboot, you'll have to manually insert the driver again.

There is a way to have the Linux system automatically insert the driver into the kernel. But the method to do that is slightly different on each Linux distribution. I haven't figured out how to do that on Ubuntu yet. When I figure it out, I will post it here.

Chieh Cheng
Sun, 5 Mar 2006 22:17:07 -0800

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