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Sunday, April 24, 2005
Solaris: Fixing sound card woes

System cannot play any kind of audio files. All attempts to play audio files
fail with can't find audio device dev/audioctl does not exist error message.

  1. With mixerctl command:

    • check if a driver has been installed for the sound card, and
    • if a driver has already been installed, check the default or primary audio device.

    eg., % mixerctl
    mixerctl: device /dev/audioctl does not exist

    That means, the primary audio device is not configured properly.

    /dev/audio is a symbolic link, points to the sound card device on the machine. It exists only if there is a supported sound device on the machine. When the audio device(s) are installed on the system, they appear under /dev/sound directory.

    % ls -l /dev/audio*
    No match

  2. The driver might have installed already, but not loaded. Try to load it with devfsadm command. By default, devfsadm tries to load every driver in the system and attach to all possible device instances. Also it creates logical links to device nodes in /dev and /devices and loads the device policy, if the driver load succeeds.

    eg., # devfsadm -v
    devfsadm[1739]: verbose: removing link /dev/syscon -> ../../devices/pseudo/pts@0:4
    invalid contents
    devfsadm[1739]: verbose: symlink /dev/syscon -> ../devices/pseudo/cn@0:syscon

    % mixerctl
    mixerctl: device /dev/audioctl does not exist

    In this example, the driver for the sound card is not loaded even with devfsadm. The relevant driver might not have installed on the machine. So, the next step is to install the driver for the audio device.

  3. Get the audio driver for your OS version and chipset from: and install.

    If you are not sure about the audio device information and the driver to download
    for your device, the steps are as follows to get that information:

    To get the information like device-id and vendor-id, check the output of prtconf -pv for "Audio device".

    eg., % prtconf -pv
    Node 0x1d80f8
    assigned-addresses: 8100fd10.00000000.00001c00.00000000.00000100.8100fd14.00000000.00001880.
    class-code: 00040100
    compatible: 'pci8086,2485.1028.f3.2' + 'pci8086,2485.1028.f3' + 'pci1028,f3' + 'pci8086,2485.2' + 'pci8086,2485' + 'pciclass,040100' + 'pciclass,0401'
    device-id: 00002485
    devsel-speed: 00000001
    interrupts: 00000002
    max-latency: 00000000
    min-grant: 00000000
    model: 'PCI: 8086,2485.1028.f3.2 - Audio device'
    name: 'pci1028,f3'
    power-consumption: 00000001.00000001
    reg: 0000fd00.00000000.00000000.00000000.00000000.0100fd10.00000000.00000000.
    revision-id: 00000002
    slot: 00000000
    subsystem-id: 000000f3
    subsystem-vendor-id: 00001028
    unit-address: '1f,5'
    vendor-id: 00008086

    In this example, device-id = 2485 and the vendor-id = 8086.

    Searching for device "2485" at, showed the following result:

    Device IdChip DescriptionVendor IdVendor Name
    0x2485AC97 Audio Controller0x8086Intel Corporation

    So, audioi810 driver from, has to be installed since it supports AC97 Audio Controller on Intel.

  4. After installing the audio driver, reboot the machine once to let the
    system configure everything properly for you during the system startup.

  5. Once the machine is up, check the status of the primary audio device again
    with mixerctl.

    % mixerctl
    Device /dev/audioctl:
    Name = SUNW,CS4231
    Version = 02,ICH3:82801CA
    Config = i810

    /dev/audioctl doesn't support the audio mixer function

    % ls -l /dev/audio*
    lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 7 Apr 24 00:23 /dev/audio -> sound/0
    lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 10 Apr 24 00:23 /dev/audioctl -> sound/0ctl

    % ls -l /dev/sound/*
    lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 49 Apr 24 00:23 /dev/sound/0 -> ../../devices/pci@0,0/pci1028,f3@1f,5:sound,audio
    lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 52 Apr 24 00:23 /dev/sound/0ctl -> ../../devices/pci@0,0/pci1028,f3@1f,5:sound,audioctl

  6. To quickly check if the newly installed driver is functioning properly,
    play any of the audio clips that we can find under /usr/demo/SOUND/sounds/
    with audioplay utility.

    eg., % audioplay /usr/demo/SOUND/sounds/

    If you cannot hear any audio from the system, check /var/adm/message
    for error messages from the audio device driver. Also check prtconf -D output, to make sure the audio driver (audioi810 from above examples) has attached to your hardware.

  7. If the audio files play too fast with any media player, read the following for the workaround (straight lift from:; thanks to "gnu noob" for posting the problem/solution at

    The AC'97 standard defines that the AC'97 codec has to run with an internal sample rate of 48kHz, but some mainboard manufacturers seem to overclock their chipsets / AC'97 codec. On such an overclocked AC'97 codec the internal sample rate is significantly higher than 48kHz, and audio plays back too fast.

    If you install the latest version of the audio drivers, you'll find a driver property "ac97_codec_clockrate" for the audioi810 driver in /platform/i86pc/kernel/drv/audioi810.conf, to workaround the problem with such an overclocked AC'97 codec.

    You'll find some instructions in the audioi810.conf file how to measure the exact internal clock rate used in your system's AC'97 codec.

    It appears that the latest version of the linux audio drivers are having a timing loop at i810 audio driver initialization time, to measure the AC'97 internal clock rate, so that the user doesn't have to configure a device specific clockrate.

  1. With more than one audio devices installed on the system, make sure the primary audio device (ie., the symbolic links /dev/audio and
    /dev/audioctl) is pointing to the right audio device ie., /dev/sound/x (where x = any integer).

  2. The primary audio device can be changed by modifying the /dev/audio
    and /dev/audioctl symbolic links. For more information, please read Solaris
    documentation at

  3. For a lot of applications you can select which one of multiple audio devices
    should to be used by setting the environment variable AUDIODEV: e.g.

    eg., % env AUDIODEV=/dev/sound/0 audioplay /usr/demo/SOUND/sounds/

J.Keil (
Technorati tag:

Thanks for the page! It was perfectly succinct AND accurate! I'm now enjoying audio in Solaris 10 11/06 under Parallels Desktop for Mac on my MacBook Pro. Been meaning to test some Flash stuff that includes audio...

I am trying to configure sound in opensolaris installed inside a VirtualBox.
On my host system, I am able to hear the sound when I attach a headphone. So, that means the sound is working. But, 'prtconf -v' doesn't list any device related to Sound!
Now, inside VirtualBox/OpenSolaris, the volume icon is disabled and when I click on it, it gives the error: "No volume control GStreamer plugins and/or devices found."
Till now, this problem is resolved. I installed the GStreamer and still the problem keeps coming!
So, can you please help me with getting this resolved?

same trouble with me, im using vistual box on my lenovo. the sound icon is disabled. it dosnt work lookslike with your suggestion..
any suggestion?/
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