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We posted instructions for upgrading ALSA on Ubuntu to version 1.0.20 but there are a lot of steps to follow so for this reason I searched for an alternative and found a script on the ubuntuforums.org (thanks to soundcheck) which upgrades ALSA to the latest version.

The main idea of upgrading ALSA is to bride the huge delay (up to a year) of updates supplied through the official channels. You must agree that the huge delay is not at all acceptable.

By running the upgrade there'll be a great chance that you get your soundcard up and running or problems resolved. The script will get you the latest official stable ALSA release. You can even install the latest driver snapshot, which is again up to 6 month ahead of the latest stable ALSA release.

Running the attached script (download link at the end of the post), you will upgrade the following packages:

Alsa 1.0.20 (stable)

See: Changelog Alsa 1.0.20

DRIVER=alsa-driver-1.0.20
FIRMWARE=alsa-firmware-1.0.20
LIB=alsa-lib-1.0.20
PLUGINS=alsa-plugins-1.0.20
UTILS=alsa-utils-1.0.20
TOOLS=alsa-tools-1.0.20
OSS=alsa-oss-1.0.17

Supported kernels: 2.6.24/26/27/28/29 family (including rt-kernel & NON-Ubuntu ZEN-rt-kernel).

Before upgrading, please note that the script is currently not in line with Debian/Ubuntu rules for package handling. It just overwrites existing files. You won't see a change on the ALSA package-id within Synaptic! The script recognizes severe problems during the installation and will stop automaticaly. It shouldn't mess up your setup.

In the worst case scenario the -r restore option restores your old system status as good as possible. It'll reinstall kernel, kernel-headers and Alsa related packages.

Ubuntu upgrades/updates might overwrite your manual installation once in a while (e.g. Major upgrades, kernel-upgrades or ALSA-package upgrades). You just need to rerun the upgrade-script using the -i option in this case. Major upgrades can also overwrite some important configuration files such as /etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base. You need to restore your old configuration manually in this case. Keep always a copy of your modified alsa-base file!

That being said, we can proceed to upgrading ALSA:

1. Download the script and save it somewhere (download links at the end of the post)
2. Open a terminal and:
a)
cd <your-download-dir>
b)
tar xvf AlsaUpgrade-1.0.x-rev-1.17.tar
c)
sudo ./AlsaUpgrade-1.0.x-rev-1.17.sh

To see if the upgrade was successful use "aplay" - the Alsa player application.
aplay -l
To test your first (default-index 0 X=0) soundcard, type e.g.:
aplay -Dplughw:X,0 -fcd /<your-music-directory>/<replace-this-with-your-soundfile>.wav
or e.g.
speaker-test -Dplughw:X,0 -c2
replace the X with the index of your soundcard index, which you find out by typing "aplay -l" - look for "card X".

Multichannel you can test the following way:

1. Type
aplay -L
to find out about your pcm device . e.g "surround51"

2. Type
speaker-test -D surround51 -c6
Note: If the channel mapping should be wrong you need to adjust it in .asoundrc

AND ALSO: Check if your alsamixer-channels are activated and unmuted (gnome-mixer/volume-control/preferences)!!

There are quite often headphone-jack, Toslink, SPDIF or microphone issues reported. Usually this has something to do with a wrong alsamixer setting or more seldom with a wrong model-id assigned to your sound-driver in /etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base.

For troubleshooting, see:

http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=843012
https://help.ubuntu.com/community/SoundTroubleshooting?action=show&redirect=DebuggingSoundProblems
http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1046137&page=35

Download the ALSA Upgrade Script:
AlsaUpgrade-1.0.x-rev-1.17.tar
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