No sound on Firefox on x86_64 Linux with Pulseaudio / ALSA

This post was written by eli on April 24, 2012
Posted Under: Linux,Linux sound

This is yet another suggestion on what to do if the Firefox doesn’t play sound (with flash videos in particular) but all other applications do (mplayer, for example). The video in Firefox runs smoothly, but no sound at all. This is a popular subject on the web, it turns out.

My platform: Fedora Core 12, 64 bit, hda sound card. I should also mention this all was fine on my computer until I upgraded to alsa-1.0.24 kernel drivers from sources. With “make install-modules” (as opposed to “make install”). Even after this installation, I don’t have an ALSA init script on my computer (and neither should I have one, as the drivers are autoloaded anyhow).

The first thing to do is to go to System > Preferences > Sound and pick the “Applications” tab. Now do something that does play sound. The application should be listed there while the sound is played. Stop playing, and the application vanishes from the list.

Now try to play a flash video. If you’re lucky, the Firefox applications appears there (as “ALSA plug-in [firefox-bin]“), only with the sound muted or volume very low. Just fix that, and you’re good.

In my case, nothing appeared on this list when playing a video on Firefox. This means that Firefox doesn’t connect to Pulseaudio at all. This has in fact nothing to do with the flash player: This happens when the video is played in HTML5 mode as well (a common situation in Youtube, for example).

Like many others who have addressed this issue, I know how I solved it, but not why things broke in the first place.

The problem, as it turned out, was that Firefox didn’t find the /usr/lib/alsa-lib/ shared library. Note that it’s “lib” and not “lib64″ it was looking for, because the part producing sound runs in 32-bit mode. Or something like that.

So I went

$ yum provides '/usr/lib/alsa-lib/'

Which told me I needed alsa-plugins-pulseaudio-1.0.21-2.fc12.i686. I then went (as root):

# yum install alsa-plugins-pulseaudio-1.0.21-2.fc12.i686

just to be told by yum that “package alsa-plugins-pulseaudio-1.0.22-1.fc12.x86_64 (which is newer than alsa-plugins-pulseaudio-1.0.21-2.fc12.i686) is already installed”. This is when I really love this RPM magic.

Googled for the exact RPM file, downloaded it, and basically went (nothing like the –force flag)

# rpm -i --force alsa-plugins-pulseaudio-1.0.21-2.fc12.i686.rpm

And the sound is back. Hurray! Not. That problem shouldn’t have started in the first place.

Reader Comments

Thank you for this wonderful explanation. I found, however, that I was a bit sloppy when I analyzed the problem at first.

It seams that yum by default will install the x86_64 package but not the i686 package – and you need both. By specifying that I want the i686 installed too, yum just solved the problem without using force.

Written By Nicolai on December 1st, 2015 @ 15:33

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