openSUSE-11.2 - alsa updates ....

For those who do not know, alsa is the sound “driver” that comes with openSUSE (packaged as rpms), where these rpms include kernel modules that load providing sound. My understanding is the kernel also contains a version of alsa, where the kernel’s sound modules can be replaced by updated rpms …

I was curious about what was being updated in openSUSE-11.2 (to be released in November) so I jotted down these notes … and I thought here that I would share a few links.

openSUSE-11.1 was released with a mix of 1.0.17 and 1.0.18 alsa (plus some very recent openSUSE alsa fixes that were on their way upstream to alsa). It looks like openSUSE-11.2, when released in November-2009, will have version 1.0.20 of alsa. So what will the differences be ?

I note these URLs:

I anticipate there may also be some custom openSUSE alsa packager “fixes” to alsa in the version of 1.0.20 delivered with openSUSE.

In addition, the openSUSE-11.2 kernel-2.6.31 will have 1.0.20 of alsa provided in the kernel. See this thread for discussion on the kernel: Whats new in 2.6.31 vs 2.6.27 kernel ? - openSUSE Forums

I note that 1.0.20 of alsa has superior hardware automatic configuration than the older 1.0.17/1.0.18 combination. Together with the new 2.6.31 kernel, it also has some support for XFi audio hardware, where lack of support for that until now has always been a disappointment for some Linux enthusiasts.

Skimming thru the release notes, from what I can see is there are also many bug fixes, updated documentation, and improved support for a lot of the newer PC/motherboard sound hardware.

I also noted in a separate thread , that the naming convention for files under /etc/modprobe.d will change in 11.2, and it now appears (based on milestone releases) that the previous “sound” file in that directory will instead be called 50-sound.conf.

If one has a sound device that does not work, or works poorly under openSUSE-11.1, with the packaged 1.0.17/1.0.18 version of alsa, … one way to check to see if openSUSE-11.2 holds any promise of improved audio, is to search to see if there are any updates to the hardware audio codec on one’s PC.

One can often determine what hardware audio codec is present on one’s openSUSE-11.1 (and also learn detailed information about one’s openSUSE-11.1 PC’s hardware/software audio configuration) is to run with one’s PC connected to the internet, the diagnostic script:
… that will provide a URL. Click on the URL and check the contents, looking for mention of the hardware “codec”.

If instead one is using a version of openSUSE older than openSUSE-11.1, one must instead copy and paste this command (with one’s PC connected to the internet):

wget -O && bash

… again, that will provide a URL. Click on the URL and check the contents, looking for mention of the hardware “codec”.

Once one has the codec (say ALC268, for example) then go to this URL Main Page - AlsaProject and on the middle left of that page enter in the search box one’s hardware codec (ALC268 in our example). That will list where updates have been done to ALC268.

For example, here are the results of the search for changes to the ALC268 codec: Search results for ALC268 - AlsaProject

If one knows the specific kernel module that is loaded for one’s sound device, one can also enter that in the alsa search engine, looking for a mention of updates.