2010-11-10

How to disable PulseAudio on Ubuntu Lucid and Oneiric without uninstalling it

This blog post explains how to disable PulseAudio on Ubuntu Lucid without uninstalling it. The solution described here may work on other Linux distributions as well. Please note that you may lose volume controls integrated to GNOME (e.g. the volume control hotkeys), and you'll have to adjust the volume with alsamixer or it's GNOME equivalent, gnome-alsamixer.

Install the volume control programs:

$ sudo apt-get install alsa-utils gnome-alsamixer
$ sudo apt-get remove gamix  # Applications / Sound & Video / ALSA Mixer

Stop the PulseAudio server (pulseaudio) and remove temporary files:

$ pkill -STOP '^pulseaudio$'
$ rm -rf ~/.pulse

Make sure all application attempts to connect to the PulseAudio server and/or to start a new PulseAudio server will fail:

$ mkdir -p ~/.pulse
$ (if grep -q \=10 /etc/lsb-release; then
     echo 'default-server = 0.0.0.1'
   else
     echo 'daemon-binary = /dev/null/no-daemon'
   fi
   echo 'autospawn = no') >~/.pulse/client.conf

Kill the PulseAudio server:

$ pkill -KILL '^pulseaudio$'

Optionally, to disable PulseAudio for all users, add the following lines to /etc/pulse/client.conf for Ubuntu Lucid:

default-server = 0.0.0.1
autospawn = no
The corresponding lines for Ubuntu Oneiric are:
daemon-binary = /dev/null/no-daemon
autospawn = no

Restart your web browsers (for the Flash Player) and your Skype, and possibly other applications which use sound. To do so, it's best to log out and log in again.