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Using the microphone in Debian – I hope Windows XP works on my laptop

Posted by alecs1 pe 2008-11-13

Update: Using the ncurses program “alsamixer” I was able to get decent settings and make the mic. work right. Unlike KMix and Alsamixergui, changes made with alsamixer were applied. It is also keyboard friendly (it’s stupid console in fact, couldn’t be otherwise). I’m still thinking about other OS, this was too big a hassle

VoIP is finally reaching us, and offers prices that are unbelievably good. Buy credit from a VoIP provider (TerraSIP in my case), start a VoIP program (WengoPhone in this Debian case), do some settings to the program and call home. I have mention that quality is also surprising, I guess that in more than half of the case it is better than phone to phone. Being abroad this means very important savings.

And I did this, until Debian sabotaged me. To make the microphone work correctly on this laptop, a fair bit of experimentation is necessary, I did that and everything worked. After some time, with no conscious ALSA related changes on my system, this doesn’t work anymore, and the sound is no longer clear. It now misses all the higher frequency sounds and transforms them in squeaks.

The bad thing is that I don’t know where the problem is coming from, and more, I have no idea how to solve it.

Here’s a picture showing Alsamixergui with the best settings I could get. The program has tons of controls and none of them is explained. Googling didn’t give me too many answers. Some of the controls cannot be used (although KMix uses them, but to no effect), and also the range of possible combinations, without using a manual, is frightening.

snapshot4

So counting the sacrifices done for running Debian:
-no 3d acceleration -> No playing CS with friends. No other interesting gaming. I never got too far with Blender to feel the need for real 3d, but I will.
-problems with opening fancy shit office documents, not using proprietary math software from the university, others like this -> A few bad marks and some time wasted.
-calling at home from abroad with prices as much as 15 times higher than the VoIP ones. Well, this is the hot point, the costs are directly measurable as money. I guess now I have enough reasons to leave the Debian away.

So, where to?
I guess Windows XP/Server 2003. (The Vista saga is also written on this blog, and it is also not happy.) After about 3 years of running Linux on an underpowered desktop (but at least with good sound :) ), I have to give up goodies like KDE+Kwin, a decent console, nice package management from Debian, easy development with Qt and easy plugging in of external libraries, the Xorg middle click paste and easy switching of users and desktops. The good thing is that Amarok, Kate, Konqueror, KOrganizer and others make their way to Windows, I will be able to use the decent Visual Studio debugger and some others.

There are alternatives, but with shortcomings:
KUbuntu, I’am afraid they will try on me stuff like PulseAudio, the kernel TCP/IP bug (they didn’t release this one after all), and other half working thinks.
SuSE looks attractive, but it seems they said goodbye to KDE 3 and I guess there are not as many programs as with Debian.
Mandriva. My all time favorite, although the lack of proprietary packages (and also free ones) makes it hard to use.
And also, there’s no guarantee the sound problems will go away, while with Windows I have high hopes they will.

Oh, and later random thoughts:
-the man/woman/guy/dude (I didn’t dig to see who he/she is) from linuxhatersblog said he would stop. I still think he knew a lot more about Linux than I do.
-I still hate AMD/ATI for tricking me into buying a laptop with a radeonhd “supported” shit video card. I hope they will get their shit together though, as competition is always good.
-I will ask some help from some ALSA guys before leaving Debian. I would do some coding myself, but it’s a bit beyond my power.
-I think this message has a record number of “shit” words, I think 5 if we include this one. There is no f-word though. I hope there’s none on this whole blog.

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