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To remove pulse audio in Karmic:
$ sudo apt-get purge pulseaudio gstreamer0.10-pulseaudio
$ sudo apt-get autoremove
$ sudo apt-get install alsa-base alsa-tools alsa-tools-gui alsa-utils alsa-oss linux-sound-base alsamixergui
$ sudo apt-get install esound esound-clients esound-common libesd-alsa0 gnome-alsamixer
restart your computer!
-run gstreamer-properties in terminal to set defaults to alsa (the old system/preferences/sound in jaunty)
This means:
$ gstreamer-properties
-remove gstreamer0.10-pulseaudio to get sound in totem.
The above commands should have taken care of that, but it never hurts to be sure when talking about the hydra that is PulseAudio.
-gnome-alsamixer is for changing the volume, not an applet but better that nothing
This means you are left without a panel applet to control volume across the board, thanks to the thoughtful efforts of Canonical to shove PulseAudio down our throats. So you need to have something to control audio with:
$ sudo apt-get install gnome-alsamixer
And something to keep gnome-alsamixer within easy reach, provided by AllTray:
$ sudo apt-get install alltray
Now, one last word of advice. Usually the best solution is to use aptitude or synaptic to do these moves, but you’ll run headfirst into their dependency resolution efforts, which command them to put PulseAudio back in your system when reinstalling gnome-alsamixer. So either you use apt-get or you reconfigure aptitude/synaptic dependency resolution to work the way you want.


  1. It’s really surprising and disappointing that a distro that bills itself as “beginner-friendly” should ship with experimental Beta software by default. Untested, unproven and unstable software belongs in “high risk, bleeding edge” Linux distros like Sidux, where more advanced users expect and accept the risk (and the fun) of the newest stuff. Same with GRUB-2.

    Thankfully, Xubuntu (9.10) does not ship with PulseAudio, and I was able to avoid the headaches that “vanilla Ubuntu” users had to put up with…

  2. Hey Robin, that’s true – however, remember that Ubuntu started out (and therefore had to continue on) as “Debian unstable” + some user-friendliness enhancements. I agree that taking a more cautious approach might have been better for beginners.
    One thing I noticed is that PulseAudio seems to have gotten better gradually in Ubuntu, with each distro. It worked well on my laptop until I noticed that my HDMI port was not sending out audio (just image) and it turned out that the solution was to remove PulseAudio 🙂
    I’m glad to know that Xubuntu 9.10 doesn’t have it by default – I didn’t know about that.

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