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Okay, I am having a really difficult time with the sound. ALSA appears to be working correctly, but sound only works a fraction of the time (i.e. three 30 second bursts in the past week). Here is my post to the Gentoo forums. If you have any idea how to get this working, please let me know. Also, HP’s printed documentation that comes with this laptop is really lacking. It is very non-technical and is not very helpful. They don’t even include a product specification sheet. After twenty minutes, the customer support representative found this web page which provides support information for the ze4501, which is almost identical to the custom built ze4500. The Product Specifications is the most informative document in the collection. None of these documents are very technical, so they are not super helpful, but the specification has some good hints for what Linux drivers will work. It also gave me enough information to buy my memory upgrade which is what I needed.

Written November 11, 2003

I think I found a solution to the sound problems. I haven’t looked into it enough, but it looks like a bug to me. I get sound as long as only the Master, Headphone, PCM, Line, and CD channels are unmuted. I’m not sure which of the other channels is causing the problem, or why. I haven’t tested the mic, but everything else I want seems to be working now (CDs, DVDs, MP3s, OGG, etc). I hope that this really is the problem, and it’s not just a temporary “I got lucky” streak of functioning sound. If I get the chance, I’ll have to experiment more and try to pin down which combination of channels, then I should examine the driver’s code, or at least file a bug report. For now, I’m going to wait and make sure that my sound really works consistently, and focus on more pressing projects.

Should it be helpful in the future, I just noticed that the kernel does in fact have drivers for this chipset (without ALSA). They are hidden near the bottom of the list and grouped with other drivers. The line reads “Trident 4DWave DX/NX, SiS 708 or ALi5451 PCI Audio Core drive”. Should my sound still not work consistently, I’ll have to try ditching ALSA and using this driver.

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