Configure alsa automatically


Bspwm-minimal uses plain alsa instead of pulseaudio. This is sometimes irritating, because my test system is a laptop where alsa does not work out of the box. The default sound cart is set to hdmi even though there are no hdmi devices connected. And I suck at configuring alsa.

After some digging, I found out how to set the default sound card to something that actually makes sound. However, the configuration is obviously not portable. I would like to automate this configuration for new installations.

Anybody got ideas on how to do this?

Replacing Pulseaudio with Alsa
#!/usr/bin/env bash

for card in $(awk '/ \[/ {print $1}' /proc/asound/cards); do
	if amixer -c $card get Master &> /dev/null; then

[[ -n $working_card ]] && echo "defaults.pcm.card $working_card
defaults.ctl.card $working_card" > ~/.asoundrc

I put this in the autostart, seems to work okay. Anyone got ideas for improvements?


Some ideas:

  • bash is not needed, convert to das for faster execution
  • if sound is working, do nothing
  • trigger it from volume script if sound is not working
  • autostart it from limepanel


@oberon I recall that you had a script in i3 edition. Would this be a useful addition to it?


set defaults in /etc/asound.conf ?
(normally set to default to Pulseaudio with other DE’s)


How would that work in practice? I don’t know what hardware user has or how his cards are ordered or named, or which device he wants to use, so I don’t see how I could use a static configuration file.


it would have to be fix for users that have similar card configuration

cat /proc/asound/cards
aplay -l + arecord -l
to get card numbers

then most of the time would be:

Have to do post-install configuration in other DEs where HDMI grabs default too


What we have currently in i3 is simply scripts to install and remove pulse :slight_smile:


I know. I was thinking, if someone is removing pulseaudio, would it be good to automatically configure alsa so that they don’t lose sound if their system is weird like mine?


As we all know, many people (apart from ourselves) can have trouble getting sound (for various reasons).

For those of us that prefer not to use PA, having a little script that we could run that removes PA (if it exists) & then makes the right settings for ALSA would be a real blessing (& sometimes quite a time saver too).

I do hope that such a script comes out of your work @Chrysostomus.

If such a script is born, I expect that it would make its way in to a number of other distros that prefer not to use PA, too. :slight_smile:


Sure, I can do that now that I have the parts. Just add a few uninstall commands and make it a bit more verbose.


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