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I use Clementine and it started yesterday to refuse to play anything and display an "access denied" alert box. Same with Rhythmbox. After a while, I realized that my sound indication is also greyed and there is no sound card visible in the sound settings.

I think that Pulseaudio is the culprit but no certitude there (see the output below). I am on 13.04 and something went wrong but I don't see how to restart it with a clean config or if I need to change anything.

lionel@prime:~$ pulseaudio -vvvv
I: [pulseaudio] main.c: setrlimit(RLIMIT_NICE, (31, 31)) failed: Operation not permitted
I: [pulseaudio] main.c: setrlimit(RLIMIT_RTPRIO, (9, 9)) failed: Operation not permitted
D: [pulseaudio] core-rtclock.c: Timer slack is set to 50 us.
D: [pulseaudio] core-util.c: RealtimeKit worked.
I: [pulseaudio] core-util.c: Successfully gained nice level -11.
I: [pulseaudio] main.c: This is PulseAudio 3.0
D: [pulseaudio] main.c: Compilation host: x86_64-pc-linux-gnu
D: [pulseaudio] main.c: Compilation CFLAGS: -g -O2 -fstack-protector --param=ssp-buffer-size=4 -Wformat -Werror=format-security -Wall -W -Wextra -pipe -Wno-long-long -Wno-overlength-strings -Wunsafe-loop-optimizations -Wundef -Wformat=2 -Wlogical-op -Wsign-compare -Wformat-security -Wmissing-include-dirs -Wformat-nonliteral -Wpointer-arith -Winit-self -Wdeclaration-after-statement -Wfloat-equal -Wmissing-prototypes -Wredundant-decls -Wmissing-declarations -Wmissing-noreturn -Wshadow -Wendif-labels -Wcast-align -Wstrict-aliasing -Wwrite-strings -Wno-unused-parameter -ffast-math -Wp,-D_FORTIFY_SOURCE=2 -fno-common -fdiagnostics-show-option
D: [pulseaudio] main.c: Running on host: Linux x86_64 3.8.0-29-generic #42-Ubuntu SMP Tue Aug 13 19:40:39 UTC 2013
D: [pulseaudio] main.c: Found 8 CPUs.
I: [pulseaudio] main.c: Page size is 4096 bytes
D: [pulseaudio] main.c: Compiled with Valgrind support: no
D: [pulseaudio] main.c: Running in valgrind mode: no
D: [pulseaudio] main.c: Running in VM: no
D: [pulseaudio] main.c: Optimized build: yes
D: [pulseaudio] main.c: FASTPATH defined, only fast path asserts disabled.
I: [pulseaudio] main.c: Machine ID is 77bf4823eb9fbd64b69d605100000002.
I: [pulseaudio] main.c: Using runtime directory /run/user/lionel/pulse.
E: [pulseaudio] core-util.c: Home directory not accessible: Permission denied

The ouput of ls -l /run/user/lionel/ and pulseaudio --dump-conf

lionel@prime:~$ ls -l /run/user/lionel/
total 0
drwx------ 2 lionel lionel  60 août  28 15:15 dconf
dr-x------ 2 lionel lionel   0 août  28 12:30 gvfs
drwx------ 2 lionel lionel  40 août  28 12:30 gvfs-burn
drwx------ 2 lionel lionel 120 août  28 12:30 keyring-iiUWPh
drwx------ 2 lionel lionel  40 août  28 15:11 pulse
lionel@prime:~$ pulseaudio --dump-conf
### Read from configuration file: /etc/pulse/daemon.conf ###
daemonize = no
fail = yes
high-priority = yes
nice-level = -11
realtime-scheduling = yes
realtime-priority = 5
allow-module-loading = yes
allow-exit = yes
use-pid-file = yes
system-instance = no
local-server-type = user
cpu-limit = no
enable-shm = yes
flat-volumes = no
lock-memory = no
exit-idle-time = 20
scache-idle-time = 20
dl-search-path = /usr/lib/pulse-3.0/modules
default-script-file = /etc/pulse/
load-default-script-file = yes
log-target = auto
log-level = notice
resample-method = speex-float-1
enable-remixing = yes
enable-lfe-remixing = no
default-sample-format = s16le
default-sample-rate = 44100
alternate-sample-rate = 48000
default-sample-channels = 2
default-channel-map = front-left,front-right
default-fragments = 8
default-fragment-size-msec = 10
enable-deferred-volume = yes
deferred-volume-safety-margin-usec = 1
deferred-volume-extra-delay-usec = 0
shm-size-bytes = 0
log-meta = no
log-time = no
log-backtrace = 0
rlimit-fsize = -1
rlimit-data = -1
rlimit-stack = -1
rlimit-core = -1
rlimit-rss = -1
rlimit-as = -1
rlimit-nproc = -1
rlimit-nofile = 256
rlimit-memlock = -1
rlimit-locks = -1
rlimit-sigpending = -1
rlimit-msgqueue = -1
rlimit-nice = 31
rlimit-rtprio = 9
rlimit-rttime = 1000000
share|improve this question
Edit your question and add the output of ls -l /run/user/lionel/ and pulseaudio --dump-conf. – Braiam Aug 28 '13 at 14:17
I just added the output. – Lionel Barret Aug 28 '13 at 16:26
up vote 3 down vote accepted

Ok, I got it in the end. It was a permission problem with my home folder and pulseaudio.

I used and as sources.

The solution was to do a sudo chown -R lionel:lionel /home/lionel and then using pavucontrol to unmute the output.

The gnome indicator is still greyed but music is back, and that's a good thing.

share|improve this answer

(I'm only trying to improve the marked answer slightly, but with a little bit more than I think works in a simple comment. I thought it useful at least to post for the next guy. If a moderator disagrees this answer could be demoted to a comment on the selected answer if more appropriate.)

The reference to pavucontrol was rather cryptic and this response somewhat less usable to me, but it did put me onto a solution.

I had none of the permission and ownership problems that seem to be the main focus here. pavucontrol, which I had to install for just this purpose, did allow me, on the playback tab, to change from "High Definition Audio Controller Digital Stereo (HDMI)" to "Built-in Audio Analog Stereo" and my audio began working again as it had before.

I still don't know I got my ThinkPad (running Mint 13 which is basically Ubuntu 12.04 LTS) into this unworking state, but this is how I was able to get audio (in particular, Audacious Player using Pulse) working. I hope this helps.

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