Ubuntu Dapper, Gateway MX3215, Sound Recording

Sound recording is one of those areas which Linux tends to lag behind on in terms of hardware support.  Tonight I managed to record some sound, both in GNOME’s sound recorder and in Audacity.  I’m gonna write down what I did in case I need to do it again.

It’s all about the Volume Control.  Double click, or right click, on the volume icon in the upper right part of the screen. I have two different “devices” to use with it, the VIA 8237 Alsa Mixer, and the Realtek ALC250 rev 2.  Also an obviously irrelevant modem device.  As far as I know, I only have one sound card in the machine, but it shows up as two devices, one using the old crusty OSS system and one with the new-spangled ALSA system.  I guess OSS is for backward compatibility with things like Audacity, which only uses OSS.  (These are found in the File/Change Device menu.)

In the OSS mixer, I go to the Capture tab, which has a “volume” and “microphone” slider.  (and CD, but who cares.)

OK, I just sat and stared at this and did some more fiddling and I just get more confused about how it all works as time goes on.  I thought I was going to lay down the law, and in fact all I can say is I fiddled with things a lot and eventually it started recording sound decently.

Here’s some clues — if you’re recording in Audacity and sound like Darth Vader, try unchecking the “software playthrough” and “play other tracks while recording new one” checkboxes in the preferences.  (Yes, the lack of ability to play other tracks while recording a new one makes Audacity useless for multitrack recording.  Cute huh?)
Try messing with both the oss and the alsa mixer.  Maybe one will help.  Maybe the other will.  Alsa seems to matter more.  The +20db mike boost switch you can get to via Edit/Preference may help.  Sometimes when you dink with one set of switches it seems to change things in other sets of switches and you have to go back and forth and see what happened.

OK, I’m signing off.  Um… to anyone arriving here hoping to get sound recording working in Dapper on a Gateway laptop…. it’s possible… but I’m damned if I know how I did it.
The alsa one seems to matter more.

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