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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

OSS on Linux Mint 10

 Finally a relief! The Mint 10 based on Ubuntu maveric meerkat proved useful to me as I could install OSSv4.

Firstly, an introduction on OSSv4 is required. OSS or Open Sound System was developed by 2 hackers, who feel the current scene in Linux Audio is pathetic and also feel that they are not bound to be ruled by the GPL only. They have come up with an audio solution for *nix based systems (works on Linux, Solaris, BSD and other nix-es) that, judging from sound quality and mixing capabilities is much better than ALSA (Advanced Linux Sound Architecture). True, ALSA is far more advanced in terms of harware support and general integration, but take a look at OSS! It is coming to terms with the real world and now has an experimental USB sound driver included. Bluetooth would not be far behind, and well, it would really close the gap between ALSA and OSS.

Again, if you have an audigy sound card (in India Creative SoundBlaster VX 5.1 is an example) ALSA does not have the drivers for you.. so OSS is the way to go.

Open Sound System was previously depreciated and many still feel it is. However these people generally refer to version 3 of OSS, which is pretty old and outdated. Version 4 brings together fresh new approaches and a handful of developers and hackers who are not afraid of what is new.

Installation can proceed in any of the following 3 methods.

For Ubuntu and Mint OS (for Ubuntu Maveric Meerkat and Mint 10 users, note that this is the one that worked for me)
Install from the Ubuntu repositories:
sudo apt-get install oss4-base oss4-dkms oss4-source oss4-gtk
This will automatically rebuild the OSS modules when your kernel is updated, and is the preferred way of installing third-party kernel modules. If however, you find smething similar to bug #519577 go to install method 2. Here's an interesting PPA too

Download the OSS4 binaries as a DEB package from here and install it. This is currently the easiest way, but you'll manually need to reinstall the package every time your kernel is updated. Also, this package is not GPL but has a commercial one-year license.

Compile from sources.. here's how. We need to install mercurial repository manager.. and install the mercurial sources by Open Sound System Development team. It can be done as follows. First we need to setup the environment.
sudo apt-get install -y build-essential mercurial
 This step is optional and will enable the graphical OSS mixer:
sudo apt-get install -y libgtk2.0-dev
Now, choose /opt as the directory to save the mercurial sources
cd /opt
sudo hg clone http://opensound.hg.sourceforge.net:8000/hgroot/opensound/opensound oss-devel
Now, OSS needs an empty directory to build in. Using the example below will create a directory in your /home folder (~) .
cd ~/
sudo rm -rf oss42build
mkdir oss42build
cd oss42build/
All done, now we compile. To compile OSS, we do these:
NO_WARNING_CHECKS=yes /opt/oss-devel/configure --enable-libsalsa=NO
sudo make deb
sudo dpkg -i oss*.deb
If you got an error in the 3rd step above, then simple do these steps:
NO_WARNING_CHECKS=yes /opt/oss-devel/configure --enable-libsalsa=NO
sudo make install

Alright, now time and again you would also like to update your OSS... here's how:
cd /opt/oss-devel
sudo hg pull
sudo hg update
cd ~/
sudo rm -rf oss42build
mkdir oss42build
cd oss42build
For Debian based systems (Ubuntu, Mint) here's a how-to from the 4Front website (4front is the company behind OSS) :

To test your settings, remember to unload OSS and the reload it.
Unloading OSS is done by:
sudo soundoff
And reloading it is done by:
sudo soundon


  1. when trying method 1 I get oss4-source package not found error. When I try method 3 it all seems to work, but when I reboot I get no sound and my audio device shows as dummy audio. Am using kubuntu 10.10 meerkat

  2. @Anonymous: Did you disable alsa? Please paste the o/p of lsmod.

  3. I got the same error as he did, with method one. With method 2, there was a problem with the "architecture" and while doing step 3, I got an error, so I did step 3.3 and got another error.
    Error:current directory must be empty.

    I'm desperate for some audio on my PC, ALSA won't work, and this is giving me problems :'(

  4. Good job for games and music, but no sound in browser (youtube). Any idea?

  5. @TheInsurgente:

    The error specifies what is wrong. You need to clean up the current directory.

    Do a sudo rm -r ./* to do that and continue.

  6. @vortex59:

    The sound requires you install the flash-extrasound package. Check in your repository.

    Also check out this URL: http://www.opensound.com/wiki/index.php/Configuring_Applications_for_OSSv4#Adobe_Flash