Bizarre ALSA problem

Chris Macksey SPAMc_mackseySPAM at
Wed Feb 25 11:29:23 PST 2004

I have a bizarre ALSA problem, which I've googled for repeatedly to no
avail, so I thought someone here might be a closet ALSA guru and would have
some insight.

First things first:
* ALSA 1.0.2c (latest from alsa-project), but I've experienced the problem
using all versions of ALSA since about 0.98.
* Kernel 2.6.2, but, also, have had the same problems since about kernel
* SB Audigy Gamer
* Basically a by-the-book LFS 5.0 system with the exception of the 2.6
kernel and ALSA.  I had no real problems during the build process, aside
from obvious 2.6 kernel things that were relatively painless to fix.

The problem:
When playing MIDI files through ALSA using either the built-in EMU10K1
wavetable synth, or Timidity++ in ALSA-client mode, the system locks *hard*
(Magic sysrq keys don't even work).   I usually hear anywhere  from the
first 2 notes, or as much as the first 3-4 seconds of the MIDI file before
it locks (which then play on until I poweroff).  Timidity almost always
lasts longer than the wavetable synth, but still inevitably locks.  Happens
in both console and GUI.

I did use sfxload to load a sound font first - it loads no problem, and I
*do* start to get the correct music before it locks.

Otherwise, I have sound, I can play MP3s, hear the GNOME beeps (albeit
through the evil ESD), and as long as it only uses PCM, everything works

I've had the same problem under multiple distros (my former Debian, now LFS,
and I've even tried booting off a Knoppix CD to no avail).

When I originally installed the card under Windoze, I never had any
wavetable synth problems, so I don't think it's entirely hardware-related.
The only thing I can think of that makes sense is that some "default" value
picked by the core ALSA MIDI sequencer code is just *not good* when used on
my system.

Any ideas what modules/values/whatever I should be looking at?  Any other
ideas?  I can supply whatever additional information is needed.

Thanks for the help,

Chris Macksey

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