The day my sound card stood still

I am one of those dual boot nuts. Let me digress the details. I am not sure whether I will be able to feel at home while editing about 15 files scattered across my screen in the form of emacs windows. I boot linux for that purpose.  I have this feel good factor when I am coding in linux, or for that matter, any UNIX variant where you tap your keyboard a lot more than you click your mouse. For in house entertainment, I boot windows. “Entertainment” means anything from playing Beethoven’s Moonlight sonata mp3 to watching The Simpsons complete season 17. Its hard wired in my brain that “linux=programming productivity” and “windows=fun house”.

I tried a sinister experiment then. Why can’t linux be “fun house”? All I needed was a decent movie/music player without all frills. I downloaded mplayer and started playing an mp3, and to my surprise, everything looked ok, except a minor fault. There was no sound!

I strained my ears to listen an familiar moonlight sonata tune, all I could hear was a faint bhool bullayya tune, which was apparently coming from the next door. So, I thought that it was time to configure my sound card. I opened one of those “configure your sound card” programs and fiddled with it. In windows, it would have been a different story. Probably a yellow coloured dog(the one featured in windows desktop search) would ask you smart questions like what is your sound card make, show a magnifying-glass-hovering-around  icon to convince the user that its probing the hardware etc. A couple of minutes later, it would play a familiar “ding” and ask if you’re able to hear  it. Thats it! Let there be sound. Back to our linux configuring story now….

No yellow dog here, the program looked terra incognita to me. Some of the things I googled for:

  • configuring sound card in linux
  • SUSE 10.2 sound card problems
  • YAST sound card
  • HP nx6110 sound card
  • nx6110 sound card problem
  • HP nx6110 SUSE 10.2

If you are a good observer, you can notice from the search patterns that I might be slowly hitting a dead end. You are damn right. Two hours and 3 coffees later, still no moonlight sonata playing on my desk. Despite so much caffine, I was exhausted. I had charted out 2 ideas here:

  • code in a quiet environment, that would actually increase my productivity(would it?). I could still watch movies and videos, and my video card was working like a whistle. Maybe erstwhile scifi movies of the silent movie era, like metropolis would be a good bet.
  • boot windows for doing any multimedia thing connected with sound. That sounded like a sound idea.

At first, it seemed odd. But then I began to realize the subtle fact that how much hearing to music has an effect on productivity. You will have to repair your sound card to experience the results yourself(Don’t try this at home). This applies for windows users only. For linux users, no need to muddle your hardware at all. Just boot a lesser known version of your favorite distribution! It will be quite(quiet?!) an experience. Better results guaranteed if you have older laptops.

These quiet days, I spend a lot of time on coding. Did I mention that I got an i-pod recently? I need not reboot anything. Its just that my thumb strains a bit when I do the Martin shuffle.