I have a machine (Ubuntu 11.10) that I would like to have it play audio (typically through an amplifier), but the machine should be headless (where its final placement will be). I will control what is played through ssh.

However, there is no sound output until I login to the graphical console. At first I thought it was an issue with pulseaudio, so I promptly removed it to use the default ALSA, but I have the same issues. I ssh to the machine, I run alsamixer and get the typical cannot open mixer: No such file or directory error (while /proc/asound/cards display correctly what I have). If I login on the graphical console, alsamixer works fine in the ssh session, and I have sound output. I logout, and then alsamixer stops working. So something runs (Xsession perhaps?) when I login that enables sound output, and gets disabled when I logout.

I remember in older versions of Ubuntu, there was a drum roll when the machine showed the login screen; that is not the case anymore. Perhaps if I somehow can enable that drum roll, I'll have fixed my problem too.

In any case, the question I ask is what the title says.

UPDATE: issue still unsolved. I just wanted to note the information that sound is configured correctly and enabled whether I log in to a Gnome or a XFCE environment, and de-configured and disabled when I log out.

  • I'm sure that someone will suggest to turn on automatic login, which I know about, but I'd really like to know what needs to be done to have sound before logging in. – ΤΖΩΤΖΙΟΥ Jun 12 '12 at 10:39

Well, I found the answer when I attempted to run alsamixer et al. under sudo (in which case, they run). I had to add the remotely-connecting user to group audio (which had only user pulse from the previous pulseaudio installation).

It really would be more helpful if the various ALSA tools reported something EPERM/EACCES related instead of ENODEV/ENOENT.

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