Restarting/Restoring Audio in Ubuntu Without Rebooting

Occasionally on my Ubuntu machine the sound/audio somehow stops working, and although most of the time this can be fixed by closing and then restarting the audio programme (or any other service that occupies the audio driver) you’re running. However on odd occasions the audio still fails to work and you might have to reboot the OS in order to get the audio/sound back which is rather irritating.

Here is a quick way of restarting/restoring your audio/sound without rebooting your Ubuntu system, try using the following command:

sudo /etc/init.d/alsa-utils restart

This should restart your ALSA (Advanced Linux Sound Architecture) driver instantly. However, sometimes certain programmes still keep holding on the audio driver even after your restart ALSA. Try the following command:

lsof | grep pcm

to find out the list of open files and close (kill -9) those processes that are still holding the sound driver.

24 Comments so far

  1. J. Smith on October 29th, 2008

    Many thanks for the head-up, save me an awful long time to figure this out!!

  2. Anonymous on March 1st, 2009

    this was VERY useful!

  3. Andy on March 2nd, 2009

    I’m glad it is useful to you in some ways… πŸ˜‰

  4. Junior on April 10th, 2009

    many thanx

  5. Anonymous on May 17th, 2009

    thanks very much , this is exactly what i needed

  6. E. on May 21st, 2009

    thanks Andy!can’t work without music and hate rebooting – you saved me πŸ™‚

  7. Jansu on June 7th, 2009

    this didnt work for me (Ubuntu 8.10)

  8. Andy on June 7th, 2009

    Hmm that’s interesting…
    Can you provide more information? This has been tested on both Ubuntu (8.10) and Kubuntu (8.04.2).


  9. Network Technician on June 19th, 2009

    Brilliant! Thanks for this. The audio problem happens more often than I thought :[

  10. DingDong on June 23rd, 2009

    Thanks πŸ™‚

    Ubuntu seems very unstable since version 9.04, especially with the sound. If 8.04 was like Windows Xp, then 9.04 is like Windows Vista πŸ™

  11. Andy on June 24th, 2009

    Hi DingDong,
    I’ve been using 9.04 for a while as my desktop environment for most of my programming tasks and it seems pretty stable to me as far as I can tell. Having said that, it was a fresh installation of 9.04 (straight on to a brand new machine). Did you upgrade it from 8.04 or have you had a fresh new installation?

  12. mx on July 27th, 2009

    My sound on ubuntu 9.04 suddenly went off. I have done everything even installed things from internet but it won’t work. I tested my sound card on windows and with a live cd. it works just fine

  13. Andy on August 14th, 2009

    Hmm, interesting. Have you got your sound problem sorted out yet mx? Can you provide me info regarding the problem? Sorry for the late reply was on holiday then. πŸ˜‰

  14. allxk on September 3rd, 2009

    My sound on ubuntu 9.04 suddenly went off. I have done everything even installed things from internet but it wonÒ€ℒt work. I tested my sound card on with a live cd. it works just fine

  15. ali asif on September 5th, 2009

    lsof |grep snd
    kill -9

  16. Val on September 17th, 2009

    Worked, thanks!

  17. Andrew on September 30th, 2009

    Awesome! Thanks!

  18. Jim Meyer on October 15th, 2009

    I had to sudo lsof | grep pcm in order for pulseaudio to show up. When I killed pulseaudio the sound started to work again.

  19. Catur on November 4th, 2009

    Thank you very much. It Work.

  20. gary on November 12th, 2009

    Thanks you. It is useful

  21. diuturno on January 16th, 2010

    Thanks a lot!

  22. Eduardo Marcolino on March 24th, 2010

    Thank you!! This problem happens all the time on my Hardy Heron!

  23. mrats on June 9th, 2010

    Thanks a lot, saved me from restarting!

  24. Jonathan on April 28th, 2014

    If this does not work try this it worked for me

    sudo alsa force-reload

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