Take full control of Ubuntus Pulse Audio sound output

Ubuntu 8.04 Hardy Heron introduces a new sound sub-system to Ubuntu: PulseAudio. Amongst other things, this is designed to give fine-grained control over audio output—the sound from each application can be adjusted manually, for example (useful if you want to turn down the audio from a Flash animation without also turning-down the MP3 music playing).

Unfortunately the other Ubuntu audio control tools are lagging a little behind. The PCM component of the main volume control window that appears when you right-click the volume control and click Open Volume Control no longer controls application audio output, This means it's no longer possible to adjust the output of, say, Totem Movie Player against the volume of the CD player.

An interim solution until this is fixed is to use Synaptic to search for and install PulseAudio Volume Control (its package name is pavucontrol). Once installed it can be run by typing pavucontrol into a terminal window and, once up and running, any application that's currently out-putting audio will appear under the Playback tab.31

To have PulseAudio Volume Control start instead of the standard GNOME volume control utility when the desktop volume icon is double-clicked, type the following to open the relevant configuration file into Gedit: $ gksu gedit /usr/share/applications/gnome-volume-control.desktop

Look for the line that reads Exec=gnome-volume-control and change it so it reads Exec=pavucontrol. Then save the file.

From now on, whenever you right-click the volume control applet and select Open Volume Control, or simply double-click the volume icon, PulseAudio Volume Control will open instead. Note that the older volume control program can still be run by typing gnome-volume-control into a terminal window.

31. To have Firefox appear under the Playback tab of PulseAudio Volume Control when playing back Flash animations/games, it's necessary to install the libflashsupport package.

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