No sound output from Steam/wine

The last two hours of my life have been spent trying to figure out why I’m not getting any sound out of my Windows Steam games that I’m trying to run via the WINE compatibility layer on my Xubuntu 14.4 install.

wincfg says it’s set to winepulse.drv. the built-in audio test seems to work; I got the wibble sound. However no games give me any kind of audio. Frustratingly they did yesterday, so whatever has happened to my system has occured between now and then. Unfortunately I’m one of those people who fire off an ‘apt-get dist-upgrade’ to a command line at the drop of a hat or tinker with config files to see what they do and then get distracted by a text message, so who knows how I may have messed things up, but  even with my poor memory I couldn’t recall touching wine or my sound system.

First step was to restart pulseaudio. I then played back some music natively which worked fine, but nothing in Steam for Windows. I then opted for the time honoured IT solution of restarting the PC. Still nothing. Running ‘wine Steam.exe’ from a console for feedback unearthed nothing new. I then used winetricks to switch wine to using ALSA and OSS, but backed out when I realised I was going to have to mess with my sound system and risk breaking even more of my system this close to sleepy-byes time. Besides it worked fine yesterday with my existing setup.

Judging that my system was ok for sound otherwise and the issue affected all steam apps I decided on the desperate solution of purging wine and reinstalling it. Not a pleasant solution as I had customised by install of Morrowind and didn’t fancy having to reinstall all of that this close to completing it after 12 years.

At this point I ran pavucontrol, the Pulseaudio Volume Control. Despite no audio coming from Morrowind running in the background the VU metre on the process was bopping like a teddy-boy on benzos.


The stream was running on the built-in AC’97 sound hardware on my motherboard. However I use the HDMI output on my GPU for audio through my screen. the game was playing audio fine, it was all just being pumped to the wrong pipe and coming out an empty speaker/headphone socket on the back of my PC! I changed it via the dropdown menu and the familiar strains of Jeremy Soule’s theme for Morrowind immediately came through loud and clear.

Some quiet facepalming later I continued on my confused but pleasant journey around Vvardenfell with reknewed audio vigour.

Mmmm, mushrooms
Mmmm, mushrooms

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