I am running 11.2 KDE on my sony vaio vgn-fw170J and the problem that I seem to be having the most is that sound stops playing from my speakers after it has been running for a while. I believe that this happens after it wakes up from being asleep. The weird part is that it plays a sound when I turn it on or shut it down. This even happens when it has stopped playing sound from every other application like mozilla, or vlc.
When the guy that wrote the sound troubleshooter eyeballs this, he’ll have an answer. I’m not sure. But it’s not uncommon for this to happen - it does this on my box when I suspend, so I’ll be interested to know if there is a solution other than I posted.
From the little I know, if “rcalsasound works” to get sound working again, it is because some other application seized the audio device and will not let it go. By restarting alsa, one forces the application to let go of the audio device.
Linux in general, and not just openSUSE, is struggling to ensure that multiple applications can share one sound device. That was one of the reasons why the Linux distributions accepted pulse audio, only to be disappointed with its buginess and the extra layer it adds in slowing down audio on some PCs.
But the alsa API allows multiple applications to share the audio device on some PC hardware, if the PCs applications are all configured to use the alsa API. You should check the settings/preferences in your applications to see what output audio mode they are using and if it helps, change those to use alsa. (note alsa may make it worse, in which case put it back to what it was before - you need to experiment)
In order to track down what application has seized the audio device, users can run this rather complex command (just copy and paste it):