Front panel audio jack not working on Ubuntu?

Got a new Sony MBR-XB500 headphones (with extra bass) last week and it seemed to be well worth it.  Except that I ran into a few problems when I plugged it into my desktop front panel audio jack.  No sound came out both on Ubuntu 10.04 and even on Windows XP.

The rear jack worked fine for both Ubuntu 10.04 and Windows.  I re-checked the audio settings on Windows using Realtek’s software and found out that it wasn’t detecting the headphones when I plugged it in.  Bingo!  Hardware issue.

Rummaging quickly through all the mess in the room, I was unsuccessful in finding the Intel motherboard manual.  A quick search on Google (I had to find the motherboard name via the receipt) got me a match that was closest to my mobo.

Ahhh… so the guys at the computer store got all the wires wrong except for the ground wire.   Wow! And to think they would’ve been experts on this already.  It was a no brainer. Just look at the manual and follow which wire goes where.  So after a bit of  “rewiring” and crossing of fingers, I had the front audio jack working on Windows.

Time to test it on Ubuntu 10.04.  There was no reason it shouldn’t work since the USB headphones was detected fine down to the brand name.  Unfortunately this wasn’t true. No sound came out even after selecting and re-selecting different audio settings.

I installed additional PulseAudio and ALSA mixer tools and still not even a faint squeak came out from the Sony MDR-XB500.  Searching on Google, Ubuntu support pages and even on its IRC channel was getting me nowhere.

…until I stumbled unto a forum thread about “options snd-hda-intel model=MODEL”.   Adding the appropriate model then appending it to alsa-base.conf file supposedly is the key to making the jack work. And it did!

First you have to find out your sound card model. Below are 2 links that can help you find it.

Then insert the appropriate model code to the alsa-base.conf file. The URL below is a list of the common sound card models and what you should put opposite “model=”.

Once you’ve found that out, append it, like I’ve mentioned before, to your alsa-base.conf file.

Must be done with root privileges (use `sudo` if you are on Ubuntu).  For my setup, I have Realtek ALC888 but my machine is unbranded. I figured “auto” would work. It did.

options snd-hda-intel model=auto

Reload ALSA afterwards

alsa forcereload

Or if you want to be sure, just restart your computer.


I was streaming music through Rythmbox shortly with the bass thumping as loud as my poor ears could manage.

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Notice: This article was published on June 11, 2010 and the content above may be out of date.