Failed To Open The Alsa Device...yet All My Other Alsa Software Plays

I get an ALSA error (see topic title) when I run Renoise. Yet I can run other applications that use ALSA just fine, like Audacious, LMMS, the Flash plugin, etc. with full sound.

Anybody know where to go from here? I’d really like to try Renoise. This is in Ubuntu 7.10. I went through the troubleshooting docs here on the forum and all the forum posts, but I didn’t find anything related to this issue.


I found that my browser (iceweasel in my case) likes to block my alsa playback, when I used it to play sound (in a youtube video for example) - even when the sound isn’t playing anymore. Closing the browser helps in this situation.

I also have this problem, and I think it is related to other applications using a sound manager (such as ARTS in KDE, don’t actually know how it is called in GNOME), while Renoise is not.

Yes, we need to use ALSA in exclusive mode to be able to get a somehow acceptable latency. Using ASLA in emulated/software based mode (via the “plug:X,Y” interfaces) is acceptable for browsers and MP3 players but not for realtime music apps.

So something in your setup seems to already use the ALSA driver in exclusive mode (via the “hw:X,Y” interfaces), thus blocks the driver.

You also may try to use Jack instead and try out if Jack manages to do a proper connection to ALSA.

Pulseaudio is a audio manager that can plug into jack, thus making it possible to use “regular” audio apps such as flash, etc without changing the audio setup all the time. Just start Jack first, connect pulseaudio to the jack server which in turn makes a few virtual alsa ports for programs such as flash, mp3 playback and so on.

Still working on the realtime aspect of this setup though, it won’t work if you run the jack server as root, so probably have to use lhm or the like for realtime capabilities, which sadly does not compile well on my system. - more reading material. This is also the sound server that is supposed to be included in the next ubuntu version, so you will be prepared already today :)

Thanks for the replies. I think Epiphany browser’s use of the Flash plugin somehow had grabbed exclusive use of the device. As soon as I closed Epiphany (even though other software played fine while Epiphany was open), I was able to run Renoise. There was quite a bit of a performance problem using ALSA so I had to switch to a higher buffer size, but I got audio.

Next I booted into Puppy Linux with the “load everything into RAM” option and I found this to be a fantastic way to run Renoise on this laptop. :) Actually, it was a fantastic way to run just about everything. The problem is, Puppy isn’t the ideal working environment, but I guess I can fix that.

This is a little OT, but where do I go for recommendations for a USB or PCMCIA external sound card for my linux laptop? I’d like to try JACK in Ubuntu, but I get flooded with xruns using my built-in STAC92xx chipset.

It would be nice to still have the option to use non-exclusive mode, even if it’s just a .ini setting or something…? Just for kicks, it still might work acceptably on for some (setups and/or usages.