How to get output devices to appear in PulseAudio?

Chris Green cl at
Mon Dec 31 10:09:42 UTC 2012

On Mon, Dec 31, 2012 at 08:44:52AM +0000, Colin Law wrote:
> On 30 December 2012 22:56, Chris Green <cl at> wrote:
> > On Sun, Dec 30, 2012 at 04:45:48PM -0500, Ric Moore wrote:
> >> On 12/30/2012 08:40 AM, Chris Green wrote:
> >> >I am slowly getting to understand what's going on with sound on my
> >> >little Acer Revo.  However I still *don't* understand why sometimes
> >> >PulseAudio can see some output devices and sometimes it can't.
> >> >
> >> >When it has no output devices not surprisingly I can't get any sound out
> >> >of it, I then curse it for a while, run various things to see if I can
> >> >understand what's going on, and at some point it works - but I can never
> >> >understand why!
> >> >
> >> >So, how does one get output devices to appear?  Then, further, how does
> >> >one do this from the command line, because I want to run this headless
> >> >and will only have ssh access.  (Running X remotely doesn't work with
> >> >modern applications as they use DBUS which breaks X)
> >>
> >> If you don't install pavucontrol, you cannot get the full benefit of
> >> pulse. Just use apt-get to install it. I usually create a tool bar
> >> icon to summon it, if one isn't auto created. You'll enjoy it. Ric
> >>
> > This is a headless system, I can't use GUI apps.
> >
> > I have finally got it all working by removing pulseaudio and using alsa
> > directly.  The fundamental problem is that it's very difficult indeed to
> > get pulseaudio working on a non-GUI system.
> If the headless system has a GUI installed, but no monitor, then you
> can use desktop sharing to control it from another machine.  I use
> x11vnc which can be started remotely over ssh, with vinagre as the vnc
> viewer.
I was considering doing that until I persevered a bit more with the "no
pulseadio" version and found that alsa can be controlled pretty well
from the command line.

One can't use 'proper X' with modern applications because (as I said)
they depend on D-Bus etc.  However I guess that one *can* use VNC
because that effectively transfers control of the whole desktop from one
machine to another.

Chris Green

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