Howto solve all PulseAudio-related issues in Ubuntu

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By doing this procedure  you will get the following

  • Fully functional audio in all applications, including those currently incompatible with PulseAudio (e.g. Audacity, Blender, Skype, Second Life + voice chat, Flash)

  • The ability to use these applications side by side (using software sound mixing provided by ALSA or ESD)

By doing this procedure  you will lose the following

  • Ubuntu's login and logout sounds (and any other system sounds you may have added to the default set)

Note:- This might disable complete your sound system use at your own risk

To implement the fix, perform the following steps

  • Open the sound configuration panel (System > Preferences > Sound).

  • On the "devices" tab, set all devices to "ALSA".
  • On the "sounds" tab, disable "play system sounds".
  • Leave "software sound mixing (ESD)" enabled.
  • Close the panel.

Open a terminal window (Applications > Accessories > Terminal).

Enter the following commands:

sudo apt-get remove pulseaudio

sudo apt-get install esound


--- or --- Use the following procedure for GUI method

Open Synaptic (System > Administration > Synaptic Package Manager).

Search for the package "pulseaudio" and mark it for removal.

Search for the package "esound" and mark it for installation.

Apply the changes, then quit Synaptic.

Restart the computer.


This will remove PulseAudio and replace it with ESD. The resulting sound setup will be similar to Ubuntu 7.10 and previous versions. Any issues unrelated to PulseAudio will not be affected in any way.

To restore the original setup, install the packages "pulseaudio" and "pulseaudio-esound-compat", then re-enable system sounds.

If you really want the login sound, you can do this:

Create a script file with the following lines:

aplay /usr/share/sounds/login.wav

Name it anything you like (within reason  ). Make it executable.

Open Sessions Preferences (System -> Preferences -> Sessions)

Under Startup Programs you can add your script file to the list of additional startup programs.

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31 Responses

  1. Josekont says:

    Muchas gracias amigo!
    Thank you friend!

    This was the solution for mi laptop Toshiba!! You are welcome. I’m sorry, but i’dont write english very well becouse my first languaje is Spanish.

  2. Alex says:

    Thank You.
    Hope this will fix all the pulseaudio issues in Ubuntu 8.04.

  3. mcgregory says:

    pulseaudio is required by ubuntu-desktop.
    How do you resolve that ?

    # aptitude remove pulseaudio
    Reading package lists… Done
    Building dependency tree
    Reading state information… Done
    Reading extended state information
    Initializing package states… Done
    Building tag database… Done
    The following packages are BROKEN:
    The following packages will be REMOVED:
    0 packages upgraded, 0 newly installed, 1 to remove and 0 not upgraded.
    Need to get 0B of archives. After unpacking 1106kB will be freed.
    The following packages have unmet dependencies:
    ubuntu-desktop: Depends: pulseaudio but it is not installable
    Resolving dependencies…
    The following actions will resolve these dependencies:

    Remove the following packages:

    Leave the following dependencies unresolved:
    libpulsecore5 recommends pulseaudio
    Score is -81

    Accept this solution? [Y/n/q/?]

  4. amine says:

    now all the sound is gone! why please?

  5. Daniel says:

    Nice hack.

    It’s similar to putting your head in the sand, so you don’t see them coming.

    This is not ‘solving’ all pulseaudio problems… this is *removing* pulseaudio alltogether. Back to the stoneage!

    The pulseaudio forums have all the info on how to set it up to work with any esound-, alsa-, or any other sound system- compatible apps. It’s just a matter of reading it through.

    I have, and I have pulseaudio working with all my Ubuntu apps (native or otherwise) – mplayer, gxine, helix, rhythmbox, audacity.. you name it, I got it.


  6. Peter says:

    Well done. I’ve seen many other options for getting the apps to work with PulseAudio, but this seems to be the most straight forward solution. My Skype microphone works again.

  7. Brett says:

    I’ve never had too much trouble. I just did a bit of hacking here and there and everything just works. Totem, xine, mplayer, FF, audacity, baudline, xmms, amarok. I’ve even got Mythbuntu with mplayer running all my TV and movies perfectly with pulse and even use pulse to send the audio from my laptop to the myth box so that all audio played on the laptop can be sent via wifi to be played on the house central stereo. Pulse just works with a tiny bit of fiddling here and there.

  8. Alex says:

    Worked nice in Hardy.
    In Intrepid it makes it so you can’t log in to xorg. This bricked my fresh install. I could hunt around for a fix or just install Intrepid again. People don’t use this “fix” in Intrepid! I would suggest taking this post down or leave it up with a fix for your “fix”.

  9. Jake says:

    Nice how-to, but what do you do about the fact that ubuntu-desktop depends on pulseaudio?

  10. NcicHit says:

    I installed Mint Linux and was having sound problems with a Windows album recording software program running under WINE. I used the above method and it fixed the problem. I had to use OSS in Amaraok and it fixed that problem too. Now everything I play music with works with ALSA and I haven’t had any other sound problems.
    Thanks for this tip.

  11. I can’t believe Intrepid is still shipping with this, pulseaudio crashes more frequently than anything else.

  12. Ubukool says:

    Pulseaudio does, indeed suck!

    To get round the problem of not being able to login in Intrepid, you need to go into safe mode and execute this command:

    sudo rm /etc/X11/Xsession.d/70pulseaudio

    Then you will be able to login. I really hope they get this sorted out. There’s been a lot of sound problems for me since Hardy – in fact, I went from Gutsy to Intrepid because Hardy sucked so bad in the sound department. Either pulseaudio has not been implemented correctly in Ubuntu or it’s still at an early stage of development and so it shouldn’t have been included, I don’t know which. Good luck with your sound issues everyone!

  13. Français ( Merci beaucoup de poster le Pouls Audio fixent. Après les semaines d’enfer avec la Deuxième Vie s’écrase cela fixe finalement a arrêté tous les accidents et le gel ups. C’est un épargnant de vie fixent.

    English: Thank you very much for posting Pulse Audio fix. After weeks of hell with Second Life crashes this fix finally stopped all crashes and freeze ups. This is a life saver fix.

  14. MDxm says:

    This is not a solution for PulseAudio by a long shot, it’s getting rid of Pulseaudio. I now run latest Pulseaudio without problems in Ubuntu. 🙂 Search how to setup Pulseaudio better, that’s the right solution!

  15. GOSteen says:

    To all those complaining that this is not a viable solution; for some of us, this is the only solution we have. PulseAudio does not work properly with many popular audio chipsets even though there is more than one layer of abstraction. Some of these bugs may be due to ALSA but considering that using ALSA directly still works and PulseAudio randomly crashes(without any error message, even with debugging at full verbosity) thus freezing any applications uses it and occasionally even the underlying system, I think the problem(and solution) is obvious. Left with the inability to fix PulseAudio’s problems, the only solution left is to remove it completely.

    I have been using Linux for a very long time(since well before ALSA showed up) and the problems I experienced with PulseAudio, after having researched and following multiple guides on solving various problems related to PulseAudio, left me with the choice of removing PulseAudio or installing Windows.

    PulseAudio is yet another project where the theory is sound but the implementation sucks. PulseAudio has failed me on multiple machines with entirely different sound chipsets(including one system that had a CreativeLabs SoundBlaster 16..arguably the PERFECT soundcard) and in multiple distributions(ArchLinux, Gentoo, Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora, even Slackware). With all the major differences between these distributions and the systems upon which they ran it is clearly an issue that requires immediate solution and at current, since problems have been reported for months and it appears as though no one has put forth effort on actually fixing it, removal of PulseAudio is the only viable course of action.

    So again, to those people complaining that this isn’t an actual solution, please remember that people may experience different issues than you and may not have any other choice. Besides, who among you would not consider it solving all Windows-related problems if you were to replace it with Linux?

  16. Mark says:

    Thanks! great solution for intel chipset and skype. This solved all the audio problems I had in jaunty.

  17. Mark says:

    It looks like it got solved, but, now I do not have audio in flash movies.
    Any suggestions? Thanks

  18. Patrik says:

    PulseAudio is yet another project where the theory is sound, but the practice is no sound, or stuttering sound, or lagging sound 🙂

    Even year later.

  19. Aml says:

    Pulse audio really is the embodiment of the Linux philosophy – a better all round solution, if you’re willing to put the effort in to tweak it until it works properly for you. I’m not, so I get rid of it.

    For sure you can’t just assume it will work out of the box.

  20. jinahadam says:

    upgrade to skype 2.1 works great out of the box with pulseaudio.

  21. Solid information, many thanks to the writer. It is unexplainable to me now, but in general, the usefulness and significance is overwhelming. Very much thanks again and goodluck!

  22. Rocky says:

    Hi guys,
    There is a simple solution for Ubuntu 9.10 sound problem,
    Go to Synaptic Package manager and install the following package:
    then go to terminal and run the following command:
    Here you are, by playing with arrow keys readjust any of the volume controls.


  23. Blah Blah Blacksheep says:

    This procedure no longer works in Karmic 9.10. They’re using a different sound front-end GUI, so you can’t selectively choose ALSA. There’s another tut floating around on the Ubuntu Wiki site that talks about doing some stuff to “remove” pulseaudio, but really it’s just having you tweak some crap and replace a couple of libs; it doesn’t have you remove it.

    Now, for the folks saying Pulseaudio is the wave of the future, blah-blah, I don’t give a crap. PulseAudio currently “works” in my Karmic install (fresh install). But, when I’m doing things that use sound for any extended period of time, it borks up eventually. I’m playing a game (like Tremulous), and the sound will start echo’ing then finally cut out. I’m playing Thief The Dark Project through WINE, the sound is choppy as hell.

    So, yes, the work-around as it is right now is still to REMOVE pulseaudio … to REMOVE this layer of crap that’s getting in the way and acting like a premadonna middle-man traffic cop for sound. While the Ubuntu dev’s have done a better job of implementing it in Ubuntu, PulseAudio is still half-baked itself. So, it’s like saying the Car builders did a really good job of installing defective tires on your car. They’re still DEFECTIVE, no matter how well they’re installed.

    But, the Ubuntu dev’s are adamant about forcing PulseAudio down our throats, that they’ve made it a royal bitch to remove now. You can’t just adjust some things then remove it. I can’t even figure out HOW to remove it now. When I do so and keep ALSA installed, I still don’t have sound.

    Everyone talks about Linux being all about choice, but here they go and cram this thing down our throats. What’s the deal? They tossed Compiz at us, but those that don’t want it can unistall and get rid of it as we see fit. But with PulseAudio, it’s a “you WILL use it or you WON’T have sound” deal.

    This really pisses me off, and I think it goes against the nature of Linux.

  24. miket262 says:

    Did a Linux Mint 9 (derived from Ubuntu 10.4) install on my admittedly lame old laptop. Sound worked, but Skype was choppy. As in unusable. Stumbled across this article. Pulseaudio-ectomy? Isn’t pulseaudio supposed to be a Good Thing? Being desperate, I used synaptic to remove pulseaudio and install esound, ignoring the other details of these directions. Result? No more mixer in the task bar (but alsamixer from the console does the trick). Adjusted the microphone volume. Tried Skype. Sound was perfect! Pulseaudio has its place in the future of Linux, perhaps, but not on my old laptop.

  25. veloteuton63 says:

    I did an install of Linux Mint9 on a fresh HP DV6 and ever since spend half of my life trying to solve the problems I created to that poor person that only requires functioning applications and notably Skype With a webcam.
    But I do not get it to work tried removing pulse audio installing ALSA re-installing pulsaudio …
    It got the microphone to work, but somehow pulseaudio crashes when trying to use the camera: After enabling the camera te Pulseaudio vol control crashes with an error message (“… failed to connect…”). After a second attempt to open the mixer applet the microphone input devices are gone …

  26. amas says:

    i had some problems with headphones and laptop speakers running simultaneously in ubuntu 10.04 / 10.10 on my asus K60IJ.
    I purged pulseaudio.
    installed the latest ALSAmixer.
    Installed kmix to run @ startup – in the sys tray so i can use my fn keys to adjust audio.

    Did this running UUE 2.8 – (havent tried in straight ubuntu or mint10)

    its a a little buggy with the themed cursor…and mute (fn+f10) doesnt work… but works good enough until pulseaudio is resolved of this issue.

  27. mmm4m5m says:

    Thanks. My heart is pusling, long and hard – since (ubuntu) “hadry”.
    (Many new and nice things around – now my lucid X works without xorg.conf, but this sound…)

  28. Pietro says:

    I just wanted to note somewhere that I found a solution that seemed to fix my problems with pulseaudio occasionally non working. Try renaming-replacing the /usr/share/alsa-base/alsa.default configuration file. This has worked for me, even though it’s not a final solution.
    bye all

  29. Giorgio says:

    Thanks for this solution. I had tried all the so-called simple tweaks and mods to pulseaudio and could not get it working on my machine. This may be a step backwards, but if I can go from non functional sound to fully functional sound, I am happy to do so. Some of the respondants are offensive in their assertions that this is for lazy or stupid people… I tried for weeks to get pulseaudio working and this was the only working solution!

  30. AmmO says:

    I too have a love-hate relationship with PulseAudio.

    Most sound troubles with Skype, Media Players and Browser plugins in pulseaudio are resolved for me and my friends by editing /etc/pulse/ (for per-user sessions) or /etc/pulse/ (for system-wide setups) and adding tsched=0 to the module-udev-detect line in that file (especially so for shoddy intel hda cards (realtek AC chipsets and some ac97 chipsets))

    Then it is usually a good idea to have a personal ~/.asoundrc file or a system-wide /etc/asound.conf that tells ALSA to route itself through PulseAudio. Mine reads:

    pcm.pulse {
    type pulse

    ctl.pulse {
    type pulse

    pcm.!default {
    type pulse

    ctl.!default {
    type pulse

    In that way, you can have the best of both worlds. There are also scripts available online to suspend pulseaudio for when you want to play games that only work with ALSA. If the above does not work, just rename the file or remove the tsched=0 and it will be unset on the next full restart of the ALSA and PulseAudio system services.

    As a final trick, you can try to edit /etc/pulse/daemon.conf and uncomment default-fragments and set it to 8 instead of 4. That increases the buffer somewhat for some glitches/stutters. Some sources also say to make sure that the default-fragment-size-msec is 25. See: man pulse-daemon.conf

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