Enabling sound on an Acer TravelMate 3000 under Linux Mint

Since the Foehn & Hirsch laptop was a bit of a fiasco, I decided to re-use an old laptop of mine that I’ve had kicking around for a while.  I bought an Acer TravelMate 3000 about four years ago now, because it was the best spec that I could find.  I can’t remember the spec off the top of my head, but I remember the hard drive being over 100GB (huge in those days) and I’ve since doubled the memory to 2GB to make it last a bit longer.  It’s been running Windows XP Professional since I got it, and that’s been fine, but as I said in the original post about the F&H laptop, my wife was so taken with my Linux Mint laptop, so I decided to rebuild it from scratch.

Firstly, I downloaded the 32-bit version of Linux Mint 8 from their website, as the version I used to build this laptop was the 64-bit and the old laptop doesn’t support 64-bit architecture.  I burned the image to disc using Brasero, stuck it in the external DVD drive that came with the laptop, and booted it up.

As I’ve found on every system that I’ve built with Linux (Mint or Ubuntu) apart from the Foehn & Hirsch one, there were no problems – or certainly no obvious ones.  The screen resolution was fine, the wireless network connected immediately (including the light on the front of the laptop working correctly), everything I checked was fine – so I reformatted the hard drive and replaced XP with Mint.

I then went off to work (I was away for a couple of days), and the girls told me that there was no sound working – the children want to watch childrens programs on iPlayer, play on CBeebies and watch YouTube and the like.  I thought that it would be something really obvious like the speaker just being muted, but there was just nothing working.  So, when I got home, I thought “this will be straight forward and take a couple of seconds…”

After about half an hour, I managed to track down the problem – the modem seemed to be conflicting with the soundcard (I think).  Here’s how I found the source of the problem and resolved it.

Looking at the sound preferences, I checked the hardware tab and found that there was no hardware device listed there.  Instead of something that indicated a sound card (my Toshiba says “Internal Audio Analog Stereo” for example), it just said “Dummy Output”.  The sound was pseudo-showing – although there was no sound coming out of the laptop, there were bars showing where the sound would have come out.

From a command prompt, I checked the devices that were installed in the laptop:

lspci -v

Amongst the list of devices, the sound card appeared, so at least Mint was recognising that the hardware was there:

00:1b.0 Audio device: Intel Corporation 82801FB/FBM/FR/FW/FRW (ICH6 Family)
     High Definition Audio Controller (rev 04)
Subsystem: Acer Incorporated [ALI] Device 0067
Flags: bus master, fast devsel, latency 0, IRQ 16
Memory at d000c000 (64-bit, non-prefetchable) [size=16K]
Capabilities: <access denied>
Kernel driver in use: HDA Intel
Kernel modules: snd-hda-intel

00:1b.0 Audio device: Intel Corporation 82801FB/FBM/FR/FW/FRW (ICH6 Family)
     High Definition Audio Controller (rev 04)
Subsystem: Acer Incorporated [ALI] Device 0067
Flags: bus master, fast devsel, latency 0, IRQ 16
Memory at d000c000 (64-bit, non-prefetchable) [size=16K]
Capabilities: <access denied>
Kernel driver in use: HDA Intel
Kernel modules: snd-hda-intel

Next step was to check the drives were there using modprobe:

sudo modprobe snd_intel8x0m

Using pgrep, check whether the simodemd daemon is running or not:

pgrep slmodemd

Since the daemon was running, I then removed it from the laptop using apt-get:

sudo apt-get remove sl-modem-daemon

That was all there was too it – as soon as I removed the modem daemon, the sound started.  I would like to say that all this was the upshot of my Linux knowledge, but it wasn’t 🙂  A lot of the suggestions of how to solve the problem can be found here.

I just wanted to write up my instructions so that if it happens again, I’ll know exactly where to find the answer.  I couldn’t find anything that specifically referenced my exact laptop model.  Hopefully, someone else might find this useful.

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