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nokilli
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2006 6:46 am    Post subject: Solution for problems with ALSA on Mac Reply with quote

USB!

OK this is obvious to many of you but it wasn't obvious to me. If I knew I could bypass the Mac-specific drivers for ALSA and just use USB I would have saved myself whole days spent getting sound to work on my Macs.

Yes, after much pain and agony, I did eventually get ALSA to work on my Powerbook Pismo, but a whole new problem developed soon thereafter. On this Powerbook model, the headphone connector is poorly placed with the result that it becomes loose and so when you plug in your headphones the sound is intermittent or scratchy.

This was very frustrating, and in a fit of anger I went through my entire collection of headphones hoping it was the headphone jack that was at issue and not the Powerbook itself, a totally irrational response since I had this issue before and had Apple repair it while the Powerbook was still under AppleCare, so I should have known it was a design problem and just accepted my fate.

It is a good thing I didn't, because while going through my headphone collection I came across a USB headset I had bought for my AMD PC (because the microphone and headphone jacks were located so far apart on the PC that I couldn't use any of my other headsets.)

I couldn't get it to easily work with the snd_powermac driver, but recompiling the kernel to omit the snd_powermac stuff gave me even better sound that I had before!

AND BEST OF ALL I GOT SOUND TO WORK ON MY POWERMAC G4 MDD FINALLY!

The USB headset I have is from Plantronics, and the headphones that come with it are weak, but the really nice thing about this setup is that you can ditch those headphones and plug in your usual headphones into this USB adapter thing that comes with the USB headset.

I'm in Mexico right now, and this USB headset cost me maybe $30US. I think it's worth it if you're having *severe* problems with ALSA on Mac. Just go out and buy the cheapest USB headset you can (making sure that the USB component is detachable, or, that is, allows you to plug in your own headphones in the place of the cheap-ass headphones that come with the headset) and rebuild your kernel leaving out the Mac drivers and including instead the USB drivers.

Linux on Mac can be so frustrating, but then too, it is so rewarding when you get this shit to work just the way you want. My laptop is a measly 500MHz G3 but dammit, it ROCKS! Thanks to Gentoo!

(and Jose too!)
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JoseJX
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2006 6:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It would be really good if you could make a bug with your problems with ALSA on the ALSA bugzilla, it's very likely that the issues you've come up against are not even known by the upstream devs.

Glad you got your sound working in the end.
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nokilli
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2006 7:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Make a bug report!?! I don't know where to begin! And it's obvious from going through the messages here that I'm not the only one who has had problems with ALSA.

Look, I'm not an incredibly stupid person. I've got over twenty years of C/C++ for example. I've done Linux-From-Scratch at least a half-dozen times. I'm not a total noob here, OK?

But ALSA has completely succeeded at making me feel like I'm the biggest idiot on Earth. Nothing about it makes sense. I look at /etc/modules.d/alsa and I can't see any rhyme or reason to any of it. And the documentation for ALSA sucks, totally.

And I'm not the only one who thinks so! Just do a search on ALSA in the Gentoo PPC forum! A lot of people have big problems with ALSA. All I'm saying is that the problems can be circumvented by opting for USB. I get it about how ALSA has endian problems, and how PPC would therefore bear the brunt of that. I'm just speaking for all the people out there who've spent umpteen nights pulling their fucking hair out trying to get this shit to work!

I've never felt lonelier than when I've tried getting ALSA to work on ppc. Bleakness is the word I would choose to describe this sensation.

You perform what you think is every combination of every kernel setting times every setting in /etc/modules.d/alsa and five weeks later when you discover that you could have skipped all of that by just buying a USB headset then maybe you'll understand why I made this post.

Jose, you rock, but I'm guessing you have one of the Macs on which ALSA worked the very first time, is that right?

Well, I don't.
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Frelon
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2006 9:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I got problems too on my laptop G3 500Hz.
After a while (1 or 2 minutes), the sound become crappy. I have increased buffers size etc and nothing. Stop and play resolv the problem for....1 or 2 minutes...

I use xmms and alsa hard compiled in kernel (2.6.14r5).
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grazie
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2006 10:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great news nokilli!

I'd be interest to know a bit more about your config. You must have USB devices enabled (in ALSA) in the kernel? Could you post or send me your G4 MDD .config file? Have you tried connecting external speakers to the USB adaptor?
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JoseJX
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2006 11:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I never once suggested that you were stupid or incompetent.

Yes, ALSA has worked fine on all of the PPC machines I've ever used it on (PowerMac 8500, PowerBook G4 500 and PegII) and I understand that you've had trouble with ALSA on your machine. But I don't see how it's ever going to get fixed unless you report the issue upstream. There's really only one person who works on ALSA for PPC (benh) and he certainly don't have access to every single Mac ever made. He's most likely not aware of the problem. Unless you report it, it will never get fixed, it's not magic. :p

Like I said, I'm glad that you found a workaround, but it would be nice to at least let ALSA upstream know that there is a problem, that's all.

BTW, USB isn't the only solution, most other soundcards with open drivers (SB Live! for instance) work fine on PPC as well.
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Frelon
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2006 1:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you considere usb as a decent solution ......
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2006 2:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Frelon wrote:
If you considere usb as a descent solution ......

Can't be worse than the noise I'm getting now!

JoseFX, you posted some useful info there. Unfortunately, I've never been able to find a PPC Open Source Driver for the SB Live! card. I know of the Mac Kx project which is ongoing, but it's far from working. Could you post some links? Incidently, when I plug in an SB Live! card into my Mac and boot Gentoo, X will not start. An IRQ problem no doubt, but not a good start.

I can't say why anyone else doesn't/hasn't reported PPC ALSA bugs, but speaking for myself I'm pretty new to Macs and Linux, so when I have problems it's usually down to me doing something wrong. When I do find something that I believe is a bug the criteria for submitting it are quite intimidating. A tested patch for a digital audio kernel module, when I can barely find my way around my machine yet! Gimme a break!

You only need search through any of the PPC distro forums to see that sound is a big problem for a lot of users. And without decent sound your machine is only good for a server or graphics work maybe.
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JoseJX
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2006 3:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The opensource ALSA emu10k drivers work fine on Linux/PPC as should most of the in kernel ALSA drivers. MacKX is for OSX and I have no idea what to tell you about OSX, sorry.

I'm not asking for a kernel patch and I certainly didn't suggest that you should solve the problem on your own. All I'm asking is that if the problem really is with ALSA, then just report your problem with upstream or on the ppc kernel dev mailing list, otherwise there is no problem to the devs that write the code. I don't see why you're getting angry with this suggestion. :p Plenty of people have been able to get ALSA working fine, and it would be nice to get it working for everyone else so you wouldn't have this problem in the future.

I suppose another question for people with ALSA problems, does using the old OSS driver work at all?
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ChrisWhite
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2006 3:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

nokilli wrote:
Make a bug report!?! I don't know where to begin!


http://dev.gentoo.org/~chriswhite/docs/bugzilla-howto.html
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nokilli
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2006 6:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

OK, when I get ALSA working (or when it isn't working, for that matter) I get emotional. In no way was anything I said meant to offend Jose, I have nothing but admiration for the great work he puts into this forum.

As for not filing the bug report, grazie puts it best I think... a lot of the problems I have with Linux are due to my own stupidity/lack of experience and I'd hate to burden the developers upstream with my nonsense. Then again, there are so many reports of problems with ALSA on ppc that I can't see how I have anything to add.

Further complicating the issue is that on this machine, the Powerbook Pismo, I had ALSA working. What was frustrating was getting it to work with USB too, which as I said was solved by just disabling PowerMac support in the kernel.

I am in a rush right now, somebody asked for me to post info I think, I'll have to do that later.
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grazie
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2006 11:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

JoseJX, sorry if I've given you the impression that I'm angry about something, as I've really appreciated your support. In fact now I know that others have sound by using a multitude of PCI devices I'm feeling very cheerful.

I'm may not be an experienced Linux user, but I've been very impressed by the Gentoo distro, the supporting documentation, the forum and the IRC channel.
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nokilli
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2006 10:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm loath to bump this thread but when I figure stuff out I like to share...

Turns out the (main) problem I had getting snd-powermac to play nicely with snd-usb-audio was in the way udev was setup on my machine. My /etc/conf.d/rc file had this line:
Quote:
RC_DEVICE_TARBALL="yes"

When set to "no" everything (mostly) works.

Was I careless when running rc-update and missed this change? Or should Mac people experiencing ALSA grief be running with pure udev systems? I have no idea.

Now if I could just figure out how to make ALSA send the sound to my USB headphones when they're plugged in, and to the speakers when they're not.
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