[Discuss] line in for Intel sound chipset apparently has quit working with Debian Jessie kernel upgrade

Alan W. Irwin irwin at beluga.phys.uvic.ca
Mon Jun 5 12:15:14 PDT 2017

Hi Guys:

It has been a while since I posted here, but this used to be my go-to
group for solving Linux problems so I hope there is still enough Linux sound
expertise here to help me out.

This issue came to my attention because my ancient analog TV card (a
Hauppauge WINTV-GO) was working fine yesterday morning, but after a
system upgrade it quit delivering sound yesterday afternoon.  For this
TV card, the sound is delivered via an external cable from the TV card
to line-in (the blue connector) for the Intel audio chipset.  All
other sound capabilities appear to continue to work fine for that
audio chipset.  For example, the sound is fine if I use aplay to play
a music file, if I play foobillard, or if I use vlc to watch a DVD.
The system upgrade was large (253 upgraded, 0 newly installed, 0 to
remove and 0 not upgraded) because it had been 7 months since I had
last executed

apt-get update
apt-get dist-upgrade

for my Debian Jessie system.  Results from alsamixer (the mixer
application for both pulseaudio and raw sound hardware)
look good (in terms of line-in is unmuted although I have experimented
with unmuting everything else that looked remotely relevant).  I am much
less familiar with pavucontrol (the mixer application for pulseaudio),
but as far as I can tell those results look good as well.

That upgrade is, of course, the number one suspect for why all of
tvtime, xawtv, and vlc deliver video for whatever TV channel I am
watching but with the sound silent while all other sound applications
I mentioned above work fine. I have given a full bug report
<https://bugs.debian.org/cgi-bin/bugreport.cgi?bug=864200> to Debian
concerning this issue on the assumption that some part of that upgrade
relevant to sound (kernel, pulseaudio, etc.) is the cause of this

Of course, the other possibilities are that just coincident with that
Debian Jessie upgrade, one of the Shaw digital cable service, the
digital to analog TV converter I bought from Shaw years ago, my analog
TV card, or the external sound cable connector has quit delivering
sound to line-in on my Intel sound chipset.  That, of course, would be
an unlikely coincidence, but "just in case" does anybody have a good
idea about how to test line-in independent of that chain of hardware?

For example, would somebody here be willing to loan me some portable
sound hardware that they _know_ works fine with line-in on their
own Linux system?

There is also another possibility for such a test here (a
still-working Sony portable radio that has a single male jack labelled
"phones"), but I have never tried connecting that to the computer, and
so if it doesn't work it is not a definitive test (unless someone here
has the experience to tell me that sort of connection should always

On the software side, I plan to try other kernels.  For example,
my complete record of the update has the following lines:

Preparing to unpack .../linux-image-3.16.0-4-amd64_3.16.43-2_amd64.deb ...
Unpacking linux-image-3.16.0-4-amd64 (3.16.43-2) over (3.16.36-1+deb8u2) ...

So I might try downgrading my kernel to 3.16.36-1+deb8u2 as a
temporary measure (since I want the latest kernel version for security
reasons) to see if that implied alsa change works around the line-in
issue (assuming that the alsa intel driver control of line-in is the
problem here).  I might also try permanently upgrading my kernel to
the Debian testing version suitable for my AMD64 hardware.

Anyhow, any general or specific advice for debugging this issue would
be most welcome since I have never had trouble with this Intel sound
chipset in the near decade I have owned this box (and operated it
exclusively with various Debian versions during that time).

Alan W. Irwin

Astronomical research affiliation with Department of Physics and Astronomy,
University of Victoria (astrowww.phys.uvic.ca).

Programming affiliations with the FreeEOS equation-of-state
implementation for stellar interiors (freeeos.sf.net); the Time
Ephemerides project (timeephem.sf.net); PLplot scientific plotting
software package (plplot.sf.net); the libLASi project
(unifont.org/lasi); the Loads of Linux Links project (loll.sf.net);
and the Linux Brochure Project (lbproject.sf.net).

Linux-powered Science

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