Introduction to ALSA Utilities

The ALSA Utilities package contains various utilities which are useful for controlling your sound card.

This package is known to build and work properly using an LFS 12.1 platform.

Package Information

ALSA Utilities Dependencies




docutils-0.20.1, fftw-3.3.10, libsamplerate-0.2.2, xmlto-0.0.28, and Dialog

Installation of ALSA Utilities

Install ALSA Utilities by running the following commands:

./configure --disable-alsaconf \
            --disable-bat      \
            --disable-xmlto    \
            --with-curses=ncursesw &&

To test the results, issue: make check.

Now, as the root user:

make install

Command Explanations

--disable-alsaconf: This switch disables building the alsaconf configuration tool which is incompatible with Udev.

--disable-xmlto: Omit this switch if you have installed xmlto-0.0.28 and wish to regenerate the man pages.

--disable-bat: Omit this switch if you have installed fftw-3.3.10 and wish to install the Basic Audio Tester (BAT).

--with-curses=ncursesw: This switch forces the use of wide-character ncurses libraries.

Configuring ALSA Utilities

Config Files


Configuration Information

As the root user, apply the default setting for the sound card. Note that this command may return an exit code of 99 although the card is correctly initialized:

alsactl init

Note that all channels of your sound card may be muted by default. You can use the alsamixer program to change this. Use speaker-test to check that your settings have been applied correctly. You should hear pink noise on your speakers.

The alsactl program is normally run from a standard udev rule. The first time it is run, it will complain that there is no state in /var/lib/alsa/asound.state. You can prevent this by running the following command as the root user:

alsactl -L store

The volume settings should be restored from the saved state by Udev when the device is detected (during boot or when plugged in for USB devices).

On systems which have multiple sound cards, you may need to adjust the default audio device so that you can get output from your speakers. To set the default device, first check the /proc/asound/cards file to determine which number you need to set. After you know this information, set the default card with the following command as the root user:

cat > /etc/asound.conf << "EOF"
# Begin /etc/asound.conf

defaults.pcm.card 1
defaults.ctl.card 1

# End /etc/asound.conf


Installed Programs: aconnect, alsactl, alsaloop, alsamixer, alsatplg, alsaucm,, amidi, amixer, aplay, aplaymidi, arecord (symlink), arecordmidi, aseqdump, aseqnet, axfer, iecset, and speaker-test
Installed Libraries: None
Installed Directories: /usr/share/sounds/alsa and /var/lib/alsa

Short Descriptions


is a utility for connecting and disconnecting two existing ports in the ALSA sequencer system


is used to control advanced settings for ALSA sound card drivers. Use this if alsamixer cannot utilize all of your sound card's features


allows creation of a PCM loopback between a PCM capture device and a PCM playback device


is an Ncurses based mixer program for use with the ALSA sound card drivers


is a utility used to compile topology configuration files into binary files for kernel drivers


allows applications to access the hardware in an abstracted manner


is used to read from and write to ALSA RawMIDI ports


allows command-line control of the mixers for the ALSA sound card drivers


is a command-line soundfile player for the ALSA sound card drivers


is a command-line utility that plays the specified MIDI file(s) to one or more ALSA sequencer ports


is a command-line soundfile recorder for the ALSA sound card drivers


is a command-line utility that records a standard MIDI file from one or more ALSA sequencer ports


is a command-line utility that prints the sequencer events it receives as text


is an ALSA sequencer client which sends and receives event packets over a network


is a command-line recorder and player used to transfer audio frames between sound devices and files


is a small utility to set or dump the IEC958 (or so-called S/PDIF) status bits of the specified sound card via the ALSA control API


is a command-line speaker test tone generator for ALSA