For all you people searcing for more information on getting the C4237B soundchip working under Ubuntu, here are the links to my previous posts on the subject:

Some other people out there in Internet land have reported the steps detailed in those posts as working for them. Some have reported that they don’t work. *shrug* My best guess as to why is I think the chip can be configured with a DOS/Windows utility to use different IRQs and what not. Or it could be some sort of difference in the kernel(s) people are using. Or something else entirely. I really don’t know for sure. Lastly I should note that when I last updated the kernel on my laptop to tot 2.6.12-10; the sound stopped working.

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.

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

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

The last PLotW never happened because I was too lazy to post it. :p Sorry about that.

From Pukka:

Not from Pukka:

While having wireless Internet access is very sweet, I don’t currently have working sound on my laptop (it was also somewhat problematic with SuSE too). I’ve been googing for anwers and not had a lot of luck. I did find that I need to have acpi=off when I boot up or Ubuntu won’t be able to detect the soundcard. Other than that, all I’ve found so far is that I’ll probably have to manually specify all the settings for the soundcard, as detailed in this HOWTO. If this is something that you think you can help me with than you can read some details of my laptop after the jump.

Linksys WRT54G Wireless-G Router

One of the many lovely gifts that Ariesna and I received for our wedding was a Linksys WRT54G Wireless-G router.1 Since a wireless router is useless without something to connect to it; I went out and picked up a Linksys WPC54GS Wireless-G Notebook Adapter. Since I was still kind of dazed from the whole wedding/honey-night experience; I didn’t stop to check whether the router had SpeedBooster and if I could get the card online for much cheaper than I could in the store.2 I had cash in my pocket and techno-lust burning in my heart. I bought the card, took it home and immediately started mucking about with my laptop to try to get it to work. In a previous fit of whimsey, I had wiped M$ Windows from my laptop and replaced it with SuSE 9.0 Pro. Since APT is such a wonderful thing, I used it to keep SuSE updated; rather I used it to update SuSE on the laptop whenever I booted it up to use it. So the first thing I tried doing in my quest to get wireless networking running on my laptop was to run APT and grab all the latest stuff for SuSE 9.0.

For the first time ever, APT let me down and in doing so it let me down badly. Something in my xserver configuration (or maybe the startup scripts) got hosed. I fiddled with it for a couple of days, but had no luck in correcting the problem. I could work around it, but not fix it. Once I got to that point, I tried to load some missing software I needed to get the wireless card to work, but the software was not listed in the APT repositories I was using. This is especially problematic as the CD-ROM in this laptop tends to be very flakey, so I couldn’t hope to go back to my original CDs and load it from there. In the meantime, I downloaded the latest version of Ubuntu (Hoary 5.04). I did this planning on borrowing the modular CD-ROM drive of a co-worker with the same ancient Dell laptop to replace SuSE on my laptop (if all else failed). Tonight, I was home alone and annoyed that I still didn’t have my wireless network up & running. So I ran over to Best Buy, picked up a spindle of CD-Rs, burned Ubuntu to disc and tried installing it.

Much to my utter amazement and total surprise, my laptop decided that it liked this burned CD and allowed me to install Ubuntu without error. It took several hours to do it, but eventually I was looking at an incredibly ugly Ubuntu desktop. This struck me as odd, but then I realized it was displaying at 800×600 when my laptop’s native resolution is 1024×768. So a bit of googling later and a quick run of: sudo dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xorg and I was looking at the very pretty version of Ubuntu’s desktop. About an hour later, after following these directions in the NdisWrapper wiki, and I have wireless networking running on my laptop. Now I just need to look into a 2nd battery for the laptop so I can have be a bit further away from the wall socket than my power cord lets me go. Still, it’s so very nice not having to sit in my lousy desk chair to do some work on the computer. It’ll be even nicer when I can put the funds together to build a MythTV box for the living room to watch all my anime with. 🙂

Updated 2005-05-27, 19:55 GMT-06:00: I noticed a typo in the dpkg-reconfigure command above, so I’ve edited this post to correct it.

1 Yes, I do realize that considering this a lovely gift puts me completely and forever in the “geek” category,
2 The answers to those questions were: No and Yes.