Configure audio devices on VirtualBox

I recently installed a new Debian guest on a FreeBSD host with VirtualBox. On this VM I need to be able to play/record sound from my laptop (Skype). To do so I configure the guest with an Intel HDA soundcard using the OSS audio driver. However I want to use the internal mic (/dev/dsp1.0) which is different than the default unit (/dev/dsp). So I had basically two options. Either I could record my voice but could not hear anything or I could hear everything but could not record my voice.

But there is a solution! I digged in the VirtualBox source code, and there are actually some options for the OSS driver (and other audio drivers as well). The two options of interests are:

  • DACDev: Path to the DAC (output/playback) device.
  • ADCDev: Path to the ADC (input/record) device.

You can use VBoxManage to configure these options. Assuming that the name of the VM is MyVM with an Intel HDA card and the OSS driver, use this command:

$ VBoxManage setextradata MyVM "VBoxInternal/Devices/hda/0/LUN#0/Config/Audio/OSS/ADCDev" /dev/dsp1.0

You can also directly edit the vbox file for this VM:

MyVM.vbox:

<ExtraData>
  ...
  <ExtraDataItem name="VBoxInternal/Devices/hda/0/LUN#0/Config/Audio/OSS/ADCDev" value="/dev/dsp1.0"/>
</ExtraData>

Note if when starting the VM you receive the message The attached driver configuration is missing the 'Driver' attribute (VERR_PDM_CFG_MISSING_DRIVER_NAME). This is probably because the sound device you selected for this VM is not the same as specified in the extra data. The above example is for Intel HD Audio (hda). If you need ICH AC97, replace hda by ichac97 in the example above.

Sound problem with zsnes on Debian amd64

You may have some sound problems with zsnes on Debian amd64 (jessie) especially if you want to use pulseaudio with SDL. There are a lot of old posts about these kind of sound problems with zsnes though none of the proposed solutions will work anymore. The last zsnes version (1.510+bz2-5) comes with only the SDL audio output. I configured the SDL audiodriver to pulseaudio but it had to be configured to pulse for zsnes to work (well don’t know why). Anyway all I had to do was this :

export SDL_AUDIODRIVER=pulse
zsnes

And now it works. So you may just add an alias or wrap this into a script to do that automatically.

Steam on Debian x86_64 (part 3)

Back again with news from Steam and Valve! So it seems that Valve plan to support other distributions after all. Anyway there has already been a lot of job done by the community to get Steam running on Debian (in particular). I used the following script to install Steam on Debian x86_64 with Awesome WM, Intel i7 and 8Go RAM (funny I got this script from an article of someone who did this with a similar configuration here):

http://kanotix.com/files/fix/install-steam-wheezy.sh

You need to launch this as root to install all dependencies and then again with a regular user to fetch the last version of glibc from the Ubuntu repositories. You could also use the experimental glibc from Debian but believe me experimental versions are somewhat… well… experimental.

Once everything is installed you may start Steam directly with the steam command. It will update itself and start again. It will also probably ask to install the jockey-common package. It’s an user interface and desktop integration driver management tool. But I didn’t installed it since there is no such package in the Debian repositories and even if I could I wouldn’t and Steam seems to launch cleanly without this anyway (notwithstanding a complaining message at each start). If you are using a tiling window manager be sure to put either Steam or your tag in float since some components don’t like it so much.

I did a first try with Team Fortress 2 (which is now no more listed as a beta) with a GeForce GTX 560 Ti. The games files will be installed by default in your home directory (~/.local/share/Steam/SteamApps) but you may change that easily. Once installed you may start the game from the Steam interface and believe what… It works !

Team Fortress 2 (Single-Player) on Linux

So the game runs very smoothly. I didn’t check the FPS against the Windows version but beside that the game loads faster. The same applies for Steam as well, actually everything loads a lot faster thanks to Linux. The first difference I noticed in the interface from the Windows version are the fonts. Also if you don’t have any sound while playing you might check this environment variable:

export SDL_AUDIODRIVER=pulseaudio

There are fewer sounds options than on Windows, only “2 Speakers” was available. The mouse seemed (perhaps it’s just an impression) less sensitive too. Although I’m sure you can tune Linux for a better gameplay. You may also easily change tag while playing which allows you to do a lot of other things at the same time.¬†

Spy among us

The two previous screenshot were games with bots. After that I also checked a game on Internet. No problem here either but a lot more fun. Again the game did run smoothly with no glitch and a network latency around 30 ms.

Ka-Boom!
Steady… Steady…
Apart from Team Fortress 2 other games are also available with Steam on Linux. For example here is a screenshot from X3 Reunion. What about Albion Prelude and X-Rebirth on Linux too ?
X3-Reunion on Linux (again)

A newcomer in the Linux Steam catalog is the beta for Half-Life (the first one). Although still marked as a beta the game is playable too. With the particularity that it also works on an Intel GMA card. That’s it no nvidia proprietary driver anymore !

Prepare for unforeseen consequences
System crash back in ’98

What more is the clients for other classic modifications of Half-Life are available but not listed in Steam. Some of them are somewhat playable. Opposing Force for example lack some models but CS:CZ instead did run perfectly. Blue Shift, DoD, Ricochet and TFC did not work at all. You should start those games directly with the hl_linux command as they are not listed in Steam:

$STEAM_LOCATION/SteamApps/common/Half-Life/hl_linux -game $GAME

 

You have spotted a friend
Opposing Force
Speaking of Half-Life modification I’d love to see Sven Co-op ported to Linux too. This was one of the best multiplayer mod for Half-Life. It had something we don’t find anymore in multiplayer games nowadays, too squared, adjusted, balanced and polished. Instead this game was raw and we had raw fun playing it! However I’d still love to hear about Half-Life 2, Garry’s Mod and Black Mesa Source on Linux too. Finally here is a video of Half-Life Beta on Linux with an Intel GMA card.