Audacity: No sound on playback. OpenSuSE 11

I have used Audacity for a couple of years under Windows. I am very new to Linux, where I have finally fiddled enough at random to make my installation playback pre-corded Audio Cds and, now, to capture sound at good quality via Audacity. The recording process seems to work exactly as it does under Windows, (with the interesting exception that the waveform graphic is displayed in a much ‘jerkier’ fashion on this 2.8 GHz CPU than it does with my 2.2 GHz cpu under windows).

The problem I have is that playback produces no sound at my speakers, even though the playback meters are operating as I would expect. Audacity preferences sare set appropriately, I think.

My system plays sound events OK.

I can playback an MP3 file produced by Audacity under windows but sound is produced at my speakers only when using the Totem movie player These applications fail to produce any sound:

  • Real Player 10 - it crashes almost immediately. Intriguingly, when I right click an MP3 file and choose ‘open with’ I am given the option of Real Player 10 twice - why is that?

  • Banshee: the application does nothing other than presenting a blank window with a title bar

  • Audacity - playback meters function, but no sound.

I also notice that when using Totem the sound is severely disrupted , even without any other inter-action with the computer, such as mouse movement. System monitor tells me that the CPU is running at about 96% dedicated to Totem. My less powerful windows computer doesn’t take anything like this amount of CPU power to play back an MP3

So, what obscure (to me) system settings have I got wrong in my rnadom fiddling attempts to understand sound under Linux?