Audio in Debian on a Pentium MMX

As might have been predicted, my recent success with cmus on the Mebius has driven me to configure and install the sound framework on the 133Mhz Pentium too.

The goal, or at least the idea, here is to assign those two jobs to the same machine, and free up the Mebius for its natural talent as Linux Distribution Tester. The machine is just too flexible to sit on any one distribution for very long.

So after a few preliminary attempts, I have audio working in Debian on the 133Mhz machine. For the record, modprobe snd-es1688, as well as the alsa-utils package, gave me the controls and framework I was used to. And cmus, of course. ;)

And results are as good, if not better than the Mebius. The Mebius’s speakers are terribly tinny. The Fujitsu on the other hand, has a little more presence and a stronger projection from its on-dash speakers. Which isn’t saying much.

The downside of this is that it can’t really handle much of a workload beyond that. If I am downloading a couple of ISOs at the same time, the processor becomes overwhelmed, music starts to skip, and I’m back to where I started from.

Such is life. I expect I might see a little better performance if I downscaled from Debian to Crux, but I don’t think it would make that much of a difference.

And the alternatives are not that attractive. I don’t want to resample an entire music collection to satisfy a 13-year-old computer, and the time it takes to configure and arrange a different sound architectures, on a 133Mhz PC, is likewise unappealing.

Nope, for now I’ll stick with what I know. I am content to focus on one role or the other, but not both at the same time … or at least, not under a heavy workload. If I need to download or seed ISOs, I can let it do that for a little while.

And in the mean time, I’ll listen to music on another machine. Goodness knows I have plenty left over to choose from. :shock: :roll:

P.S.: For the record, before the audiophiles in the audience tell me I should get an external speaker system and not rely on shoddy built-in laptop speakers, I can only say that is my plan. As soon as the move is complete.

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5 Responses to “Audio in Debian on a Pentium MMX”


  1. 1 YankeeDDL 2010/11/17 at 5:31 PM

    You probably saw this, but just in case:
    http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=article&item=linux_2637_video&num=1

    I wonder if it makes a difference in low-end systems, especially during multitasking. I’d be curious to see if with kernel 2.6.38 the … skipping still occurs while downloading 2 ISOs. Time will tell I guess.

  2. 2 APĀ² 2010/11/19 at 10:55 AM

    What’s does top report on Alsa CPU usage? You might want to try using OSSv4, it uses much less CPU time here.

  3. 3 cthulhu 2010/12/07 at 10:41 PM

    Hey!
    I was just browsing Debian-News and thought I recognized the topic from this site. Turns out the debian guys have a keen eye on this site.
    http://www.debian-news.net/2010/11/17/audio-in-debian-on-a-pentium-mmx/


  1. 1 Audio in Debian on a Pentium MMX | Debian-News.net - Your one stop for news about Debian Trackback on 2010/11/18 at 4:26 AM
  2. 2 One pleasant surprise, for 2010 « Motho ke motho ka botho Trackback on 2010/12/23 at 8:06 AM

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