Firefox, ALSA, Flash, YouTube, Google Video and SOUND!

This one’s been bugging me for a while. I run Firefox on yawl and hunter pretty constantly, and occasionally would like to view some of the videos posted on YouTube or While the videos have been playing just fine, sound has never worked.
Sound is always a tricky thing on Linux machines. Although ALSA has solved many of the audio problems that have traditionally plagued Linux boxes, many applications have not ported to the new interface, and therefore won’t work on modern systems.
After finally getting frustrated enough to take the time to do some research, I found a post that described how to do it.
First, for all Debian based distributions, there’s a very handy ‘interface’ package called alsa-oss, which, according to the description:

…contains a program loader, aoss, which wraps applications written for OSS in a compatibility library, thus allowing them to work with ALSA.

Sounds good to me! First, I had to install the package:

apt-get install alsa-oss

Next, a change to Firefox’s configuration to tell it to use said interface:

cd /etc/firefox
edit ‘firefoxrc’ and change

Stop and restart Firefox.
That’s it! Enjoy videos in full sound and motion like sharks being attacked and eaten by octupi.

Dave Shevett


A wandering geek. Toys, shiny things, pursuits and distractions.

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9 thoughts on “Firefox, ALSA, Flash, YouTube, Google Video and SOUND!

  1. My out-of-the-box ubuntu installation has sound for movies working if (and only if) nothing else (like xmms) is using sound at the time that browser window first loads that page. Although firefox can happily play multiple movies at once and mix the sound.

  2. Funnily enough, my Kubuntu install has FIREFOX_DSP=”auto”, and sound has always just worked. No extra packages needed.
    The best answer for alsa btw, is an old SoundBlaster 32 bit, with a proper hardware mixer. The hardware handles all of the calls for mixing streams, and apps don’t have to lock the dsp.

  3. Huh. My Firefox install at work doesn’t have /etc/firefox, and I can’t find a firefoxrc. But it’s a tarball I downloaded from, not a Debian package (getting modern Firefox to work on Debian stable is a maze of twisty little dependencies, all incompatible).
    However, this box’s sound issues are not specific to Firefox. :-/

  4. Duncan,
    From command line type:
    locate firefoxrc
    and you’ll be presented with:

  5. THANK YOU!!!
    That is amazing. Thank you a lot for this. That is so simple, I’m surprised I didn’t figure it out for myself, but if I could be bothered I would be in eternal debt to you. That’s helped me a lot. I really appreciate this, thanks.

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