ALSA & Crystal 4237B Revisited

I’ve written before about trying to get sound working on my ancient laptop. When Ubuntu Breezy (5.10) was released; I wiped my laptop and reloaded it from scratch. Unfortunately, this version of Ubuntu also failed to auto-detect/setup my laptop’s soundcard. After much googling and reading of the Ubuntu Forums, I finally got the sound working!

Below, I’ve summarized everything I read and tried in getting this working:

  1. Edit /boot/grub/menu.lst and add acpi=off to the end of the options for the kernel1.
  2. Install libsdl1.2debian-alsa via Synaptic.
  3. Removed /etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base.
  4. Created /etc/modprobe.d/alsa2.
  5. Added snd-cs4236 to the bottom of /etc/modules.

Mind you that summary leaves out dozens of pages of instructions, including the various diagnostics I ran to try figuring out what was wrong. Some of those diagnostics were:

  • lspci -v — No help to me as my soundcard is connected via ISA and not PNP.
  • lspnp -v — This would only detect my soundcard after I turned off acpi.
  • dmesg | grep -i "isa\|multi\|sound\|audio" — This might give you more info about the soundcard, but didn’t help me.
  • pnpdump — This might give you more info about the soundcard, but didn’t help me

Additionally, I ran across several recommendations for the options line in /etc/modprobe.d/alsa but the version of the file listed in the footnotes is the only one which worked for me.

Lastly, if you have this laptop there is a considerable amount of good information still available on Dell’s website for it. For example, apparently there is a Windows/DOS utility for configuring the IRQs and whatnot that the soundcard uses. Fortunately, I didn’t have to try downloading it and finding some way to run it but the option is there if you need it.

1/boot/grub/menu.lst
title Ubuntu, kernel 2.6.12-9-386
root (hd0,0)
kernel /boot/vmlinuz-2.6.12-9-386 root=/dev/hda1 ro quiet splash acpi=off
initrd /boot/initrd.img-2.6.12-9-386
savedefault
boot

2/etc/modprobe.d/alsa
alias char-major-116 snd
alias char-major-14 soundcore
alias snd-card-0 snd-cs4236
options snd-cs4236 port=0x530 cport=0x210 isapnp=0 dma1=1 dma2=0 irq=5
alias sound-slot-0 snd-card-0
alias sound-slot-1 snd-card-1

alias sound-service-0-0 snd-mixer-oss
alias sound-service-0-1 snd-seq-oss
alias sound-service-0-3 snd-pcm-oss
alias sound-service-0-8 snd-seq-oss
alias sound-service-0-12 snd-pcm-oss

alias /dev/mixer snd-mixer-oss
alias /dev/dsp snd-pcm-oss
alias /dev/midi snd-seq-oss

options snd cards_limit=1

21 Comments

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libsdl.2debian-alsa ? not found

Hmm, I’ve probably enabled the universe & multiverse repositories for APT/Synaptic on my laptop but I don’t have it handy to check that right now.

I have same laptop (Dell Latitude CPi D300XT) but with kernel 2.6.12.10.686 not work… Excuse by my English poor, I am of Chile and speak Spanish

I’ve been a bit busy with the holidays, but if I get a chance I’ll see about booting up my laptop tonight* and double-check what kernel it’s running.

By the way, your English has been quite understandable; so there’s no need to apologize.

*Since the laptop is so slow I don’t use it very often.

While checking through some notes, I found I was using kernel 2.6.12-9-386 at the time I wrote this. If I get a chance over the weekend, I’ll boot the laptop up and see if there’s a newer kernel available via Ubuntu’s update manager. If so, I’ll update to it and see if my sound still works.

finally I found the file libsdl1.2debian-alsa via Synaptic that has a 1 different from the file which you mention. When installing it , Synaptic it requests to eliminate libsdl1.2debian-oss. that is well?

The OSS or OSS/Free is the Open Sound System, which is no longer being maintained (well, there is a commercial version out there). Think of ALSA as a replacement for it. You should be fine in letting Synaptic remove libsdl1.2debian-oss.

It was a busy holiday season and it was just last night that I had a chance to get to looking at this. After upgrading to the 2.6.12-10 kernel sound no longer works. Neither does my wireless card. *sigh*

I spent a couple of hours trying to fix it last night but was unable to do so. From my experiences with this laptop & kernel upgrades on Ubuntu 5.04, I’ll wager that I won’t be able to fix whatever’s wrong short of a fresh install, doing an upgrade to the lastest packages and then slowly working my way through reconfiguring everything.

Interesting. I am trying to get my sound working on the same laptop with Breezy as well. I am using the 2.6.12-9-386 kernel and followed what you had done, but the system still won’t recognize the sound card. It’s too late for me to work on this anymore right now. Perhaps after some sleep ….

Very good procedure, worked like a charm on my Dell Optiplex GX1 with Crystal Soundcard cs4236

Glad I could help somebody. 🙂

I’ve done everything that you’ve suggested… I have a DELL GX1 and will reboot now and try it… I hope that it works… cheers…

Your instructions worked flawlessly on my ancient desktop:

– Dell OptiPlex GX1 400MHz / 640MB RAM
– On-board Crystal Soundcard cs4236
– Ubuntu Linux 6.06 LTS (Dapper Drake) for x86
– Kernel 2.6.15-27-386

The only thing I adjusted was the Synaptic search for the “libsdl.2debian-alsa” file — it is actually “libsdl1.2debian-alsa” (note the 1 after the L) as pointed out by an earlier post by another user. I found it by searching for “.2debian-alsa”. The file is actually already installed in Ubuntu Linux 6.06 LTS – I reinstalled it anyway.

I must say that it was quite a relief when I learned that this was going to work as well as it does – this is fantastic and will allow multimedia use of the GX1 with Ubuntu.

Thank you very much for this brilliant information!

Glad I could help out. And I guess I should correct the package name above. 🙂

did you ever get sound to work after updating the kernel? because this dell laptop is currently my only computer (sad i know) and id really like to have sound…

Sorry, no. My Dell laptop isn’t my only computer and I’ve been too busy with other things to go back and work on this. I started looking into loading Ubuntu 6.06 on it, but got stuck about halfway (since I don’t have enough RAM to boot it into the LiveCD).

aww… oh well thanks anyways..

Dell Optiplex GX1 p2/350…another success, this time with Edgy. Thank you very much for posting this information!

Do bios options for have to be manually adjusted to match /etc/modprobe.d/alsa for this to work? Or should sound be set on auto detect in the BIOS…

I believe I had the BIOS set to auto-detect when I was working on this, but it was quite some time ago.

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