My main desktop at home is a Dell Optiplex 755 that I got used on Craigslist. It's a nice enough machine, does everything I want and I have no problems with it really. I'm not a gamer so I'm not pushing video or sound. It came with a fairly fast CPU, and I upgraded it to have 4 gig RAM and a 1T hard disk. For a good working desktop, it's just fine for my needs.
But there is one niggle I have with it. The onboard sound card is one of those that can only have one input at a time. If I am playing music with aTunes, and Firefox links me to YouTube or something that plays music, then usually Firefox will play nothing, and then lock up while trying to get control. I have to "kill -9" out of Firefox to get control of things again.
I have a bunch of Creative Live and Audigy cards lying round. These were great cards, and they handle multiple sound inputs. I am confined to the back of the house today while Anne holds a meeting in the pretty part of the house. If I am confined, then I may as well do something interesting and solve my sound problem.
I opened my Dell up and recoiled from the cloud of dust. I am going to have to buy a can of compressed air and blow this machine out and clean it up. That's a task for tomorrow. I installed a Creative Audigy card and connected it up. Rebooted the Dell, got to root, ran alsaconf and chose the Audigy. Configured it with alsamixer and got - nothing.
I fiddled with mixer settings, checked I had things plugged in right, checked everything. Nothing. No sound at all.
And then I had an aha. I rebooted and got into BIOS and turned off the onboard sound system. Rebooted, ran alsaconf and alsamixer again, checked the settings, rebooted again to make sure all configs were working, and then I played an mp3. And beautiful sound streamed into the headphones. I had forgotten how much better was the sound from the Audigy cards. Onboard sound cards are convenient and they work okay, but a good quality sound card makes music so much better.
So now I have success. The card handles multiple sound sources, and I am playing a Clannad video on YouTube while playing Capercaillie in aTunes, and both sources are coming through and nothing is locking up.