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Debian Mate Media Controls

This is another post which deals with issues surrounding the use of pulseaudio for text-to-speech and access tech such as the Orca screen-reader.

In the previous post I described how to switch speech-dispatcher over to ALSA and avoid the use of pulseaudio. Doing this will make the console accessible with speakup even when you are logged in to a graphical desktop.

But the default media controls in a Debian machine using the Mate desktop, at least at the time of writing with Debian Jessie, are for pulseaudio.

I have experienced issues with my Dell Latitude D630 where the headphone jack goes silent. I have never established why. This can be very annoying and happens at the most inopportune moments, usually in a room full of sighted folks who would very quickly try and lynch me if they had to listen to espeak through my PC speakers for more than five minutes.

This can be fixed by uninstalling a couple of packages and installing some alternatives.

The packages we are going to remove are:

  • `mate-media-pulse
  • mate-settings-daemon-pulse

The two packages we are going to install in their place are:

  • mate-media-gstreamer
  • mate-settings-daemon-gstreamer

But, beware! The first time I did this I made the mistake of purging the first two before I installed the new packages and it broke my installation. I then had to re-install Orca, Mate and lightdm.

So we are going to let apt-get make the decisions about what to install and what to remove.

Do the following:

$ sudo apt-get install mate-media-gstreamer
$ sudo apt-get install mate-settings-daemon-gstreamer

You will hear some stuff about removing one and replacing it with the other.

After this your sound controls in Mate should be much more usable and include the headphone jack if you have one.

I can't claim originality for this. The problem and the fix described was experienced by my fellow Linux and Raspberry Pi hacker Rill.