Pulseaudio – How to Revert Audio Configuration to Defaults


I messed up the audio on my 10.10 installation. I had a problem of having no sound when plugging in the headphones and following many different solutions for that problem I (de)installed several packages. Now I have no sound at all.

I don't want a solution on how to fix my headphone problem. I just want to reset all audio-related setting and packages to the after-installation state (where at least the speakers were working).

I found several places where it is said that there is no global reset-to-after-installation possibility. Or that on could use apt-get clean, but even if this would remove all non-standard audio-packages, I don't know which packages I would have to install in order to get the standard audio-packages.

Best Answer

It may well be that in your case only a minor component of the sound system (mainly ALSA and pulseaudio) is missing that could be reinstalled or reconfigured easily. To tell this you should exactly know what you have done, what you have removed and what you may have installed as a replacement. From what you write in your question this unfortunately seems not to be the case.

What to do if we removed all or part of the sound system?

Restoring the sound system would in theory be possible by reinstalling all sound related packages including their default system wide settings, but to my experience a fresh install of Ubuntu is much faster, safer, and easier. Take care to keep your settings and data in your /home directory untouched. You may have to reinstall some additional packages but you will see that even these will have kept your individual settings from your untouched /home.

Is it only a wrong user setting?

If you only changed settings and configuration files but did not remove packages there may indeed be a good chance to recover your system. You can easily find out if your sound problems come from a wrong user setting or from system wide settings by looking at sound in the guest account or by creating a new user account. In case this new user has sound you will find all default settings in the new user's /home. In some cases wrong pulseaudio settings in a user's home can be removed by renaming/deleting ~/.config/pulse (~/.pulse in older releases).

mv ~/.config/pulse ~/.config/pulse.old

Of course this will not help when system-wide settings are broken.

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