The sound drivers included with the Linux kernel through the 2.4.x series are open source derivatives of drivers known collectively as the Open Sound System (OSS) drivers. The original OSS developers also make a set of drivers available commercially. These commercial OSS drivers are derived from the same code base that yielded the standard kernel drivers, but the two driver sets have diverged over time, so the commercial OSS drivers offer some advantages over the standard kernel OSS drivers. Most importantly, the commercial OSS drivers support some sound cards that aren't supported by the kernel drivers. The commercial drivers also ship with installation utilities that may (or may not) work better than the auto-detection tools provided with your Linux distribution.
You can obtain the commercial OSS drivers from 4Front Technologies (http://www.opensound.com). You can obtain an evaluation copy of the 4Front drivers from their web site. This copy will work for a limited period of time, then it will disable itself. The package includes an installer utility and precompiled binary kernel modules. If your sound card is a basic low-end model, the drivers may cost more than the card, but it may be simpler to install commercial OSS drivers than to replace the card, particularly if the sound card is integrated on the motherboard and you lack a free slot for a replacement card. The OSS drivers may also be worthwhile if your sound card is an expensive model with advanced features supported by the drivers.
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