Fixing `pavucontrol`

Problem

I run Arch Linux on my personal machine. I love the configurability and that it forces you to understand Linux and how things work. With Arch, things don’t “just work”, you have to make them work. However, there are a lot of opportunities to also incorrectly configure things, which is exactly what I did with my audio. Audio would work — i.e., I could change volume, mute, etc. — but, I could not change I/O devices using pavucontrol. You don’t need pavucontrol to control I/O, but it is a nice UI for handling this.

I learned a lot in the process of fixing pavucontrol on my machine.

alsa is a kernel space tool, pulseaudio is a user space tool for interacting with alsa. A lot of applications require pulseaudio, but you can get away with lighter alternatives.

The Fix

  1. Update Related Dependencies

    pacman -Syu pulseaudio, pulseaudio-alsa, pulseaudio-bluetooth, alsa-lib, alsa-utils, alsa-firmware
  2. Update (Re-sync) the PulseAudio Config

What I finally did was make sure that the PulseAudio config for the current use was in sync with root. To do this, I did the following:

  1. sudo cp -r /etc/pulse ~/.config/
  2. pushd ~/.config/pulse && sudo chown -R <username> .
  3. then in ~/.config/pulse/client.conf, made sure that autospawn = yes
  4. pulseaudio --start
  5. pavucontrol started working!

References