Sound not working in Xubuntu 12.04 on my new HP Elitebook, will not unmute with media button – SOLVED

Bit of a pain this one…

I’ve been absolutely delighted with Xubuntu 12.04 – fast, clean and nicely designed.  However, suddenly I have sound issues – probably caused by an update.

It looks like Pulseaudio is not compatible with the standard sound setup in XFCE and needs to be removed.  After various things I ended up completely reintstalling the sound system with

# apt-get purge linux-sound-base alsa-base alsa-utils

# apt-get install linux-sound-base alsa-base alsa-utils

# apt-get install xubuntu-desktop

NB – It’s very important to re-install the xubuntu-desktop – you may need to install gdm as well if you set up XFCE from an initial Ubuntu install and not from Xubuntu.

Then rebooted.

So we’ve now got Xubuntu back to its default settings – but this has also re-installed pulseaudio (if you has removed it).

Then I removed pulaseaudio with

# apt-get –purge remove pulseaudio

Then rebooted, went into mixer settings and unmuted speakers and headphones.  And sound is working fine – including my media buttons.

Use this procedure with caution – it’s been a bit tricky to get this far and there may be other steps which are needed.

One further point – watch out when installing a KDE app such as kgpg.  This will pull in tons of KDE stuff including pulseaudio (again!).  When I did that I had to go through this whole procedure again to get sound working again.

And a further point – until a recent Xubuntu update the laptop would start up with the sound muted – I had to go into the mixer app to unmute the speakers.

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  • Bill Z
    16th October 2013 at 5:56 am 

    What are you saying is true
    The problem I have just met is the usb sound card does not work
    How can I get it work. I cannot see it in alsamixer interface.
    By the way my system is install by XUbuntu 12.04 CD (64bit)

  • Bill Z
    16th October 2013 at 5:58 am 

    The reason I follow your steps is than pc beeper don’t work by “echo -e “a”

  • Sorin
    6th January 2014 at 5:39 am 

    I spent close to $1,500 to build a new computer, 32gb ram, icore7, solid state drives and so forth, just to have the entire experience ruined by the sound not working properly in Xubuntu 13.04 64-bit Desktop. The sound volume seems to jump in between two phases once every 2-3 seconds. Even if I managed to somehow bring both phases to 100% volume, it’s still not fluid. Can’t really listen to anything, and the xfce4-volumed keeps popping a notification every 2-3 seconds also. After reading tons of stuff, including this page, I still can figure it out. Can you please explain what so I need to have sound in Xubuntu with Xfce? Is it gstreamer+xfce-volumed? And purge pulseaudio and alsa? I’m confused. All I need is a sound server (gstreamer or pulseaudio) and a sort of gui controller (like xfce-volumed) at least that’s what I’m understanding.

  • ETR
    31st March 2014 at 9:58 pm 


    I did what you said and my sound is running smooth, perfectly. Thank so much, I’ve been trying to solve this problem for months and finally got the right answer.

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