Getting 5.1 on your Ubuntu – Step by Step for Intel 865GBF

More news from my recent Ubuntu escapade …

I have an Intel 865GBF motherboard with a built in Intel 5.1 sound card. After I installed Ubuntu and updated to Edgy Eft, I noticed that I was only getting Stereo sound.

After researching online for a couple of days (my busy schedule prevented me from actually sitting down and fixing the problem in a day), I found out that installing ALSA (Advanced Linux Sound Architecture) drivers would be my best shot at getting my 5.1 back. But BEFORE you do anything fancy, first thoroughly go over your sound settings. I found out that 5.1 is by default muted in Ubuntu (at least it was for me). Even after I installed the ALSA drivers, I wasn’t getting surround sound, and so that’s when I double clicked the volume control, went to Edit > Preferences, and enabled the following components:
Master Surround
Make sure you have these sounds unmuted, or else you can install all the drivers you want, you won’t get a squeak out of your subwoofer, center and rear channels.

If doing that doesn’t fix your problem, then I present the procedure that I followed while installing the ALSA package (drivers, lib and utils).

First you need to go to the ALSA Soundcard Matrix and pray to the soundcard gods that ALSA supports your card. Use the list of Vendors near the bottom to search for your card. You can find the chipset name of your card by going in System > Preference > Sound. It’ll be one of the entries in the dropdown list of drivers. For me, it was the Intel ICH5 (driver page @ ALSA). Click on the driver’s name (for the ICH5 sound card it’s Intel8x0) in the ‘Drivers & Docs’ column and you’ll be taken to the driver’s page.

Here I deviated and followed some initial steps from this simple guide to installing HdaIntel ALSA drivers.

  • sudo apt-get install build-essential ncurses-dev
    This will install the required tools.
  • sudo apt-get install linux-headers-'uname -r'
    This will install kernel headers
  • Now you should download the latest ALSA driver, lib and utils. I went for 1.0.13, since 1.0.14 is still an RC.
  • Now setup the installation directory in /usr/src/alsa like so
    sudo mkdir -p /usr/src/alsa
    cd /usr/src/alsa
    sudo cp /home/desktop/jaffer/alsa-downloads/* .
    sudo tar xjf alsa-driver-1.0.13.tar.bz2
    sudo tar xjf alsa-lib-1.0.13.tar.bz2
    sudo tar xjf alsa-utils-1.0.13.tar.bz2
  • Now you need to go back to the ALSA driver page and fire the specific configure command for your driver. In my case it was
    cd alsa-driver-1.0.13
    ./configure --with-cards=intel8x0 --with-sequencer=yes;make;make install

    Here the –with-cards=intel8x0 is the important part since that depends on your driver.
  • Then setup proper access rights
    mod a+rw /dev/dsp /dev/mixer /dev/sequencer /dev/midi
  • After that is done install lib
    cd ../alsa-lib-1.0.13
    ./configure;make;make install
  • and utils
    cd ../alsa-utils-1.0.13
    ./configure;make;make install

I didn’t follow the rest of the steps outlined in the driver installation page, except that I made the .asoundrc file in my /home/jaffer directory. The file contained:
pcm.intel8x0 {
type hw
card 0
ctl.intel8x0 {
type hw
card 0
pcm.!default {
type plug
slave.pcm "surround51"
slave.channels 6
route_policy duplicate

After doing all of this, I was still getting stereo sound, at which point I went into the sound settings mentioned above, which fixed everything. All the above steps have been taken from here and here. If you tried something different and it worked, do comment! 🙂


6 thoughts on “Getting 5.1 on your Ubuntu – Step by Step for Intel 865GBF

  1. ALEXSANDRO says:

    The Ubuntu distribution simplifies Linux by providing a sensible collection of applications, an easy-to-use package manager, and lots of fine-tuning, which make it possibly the best Linux for desktops and laptops. Readers of both Linux Journal and TUX Magazine confirmed this by voting Ubuntu as the best Linux distribution in each publication’s 2005 Readers Choice Awards. None of that simplification, however, makes Ubuntu any less fun if you’re a hacker or a power user.

  2. keerthi says:

    my pc is intel – d865gbf x86 based 1.cant find sound drivers

  3. Alan says:

    Thanks dude, i have the exact same intel motherboard, and it was so easy, thanks for your guide.

  4. Todd Wardzinski says:

    Thanks, that was perfect and just what I needed. I recently just upgraded to 7.10 and had to use the newer 1.0.15 version(s) of alsa*. Maybe update your guide for all those people who are upgrading now and have the same card.

  5. sujeet says:

    my pc is intel – d865gbf x86 based 1.cant find sound drivers.

  6. intel driver says:

    many of my friends upgraded their operating system and found their audio driver out of work, so how to backup the drivers before doing it?

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