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ALSACTL(1) General Commands Manual ALSACTL(1)


alsactl – advanced controls for ALSA soundcard driver


alsactl [options] [store|restore|init]

alsactl monitor


alsactl is used to control advanced settings for the ALSA soundcard
drivers. It supports multiple soundcards. If your card has features
that you can’t seem to control from a mixer application, you have come
to the right place.

store saves the current driver state for the selected soundcard to the
configuration file.

restore loads driver state for the selected soundcard from the configu‐
ration file. If restoring fails (eventually partly), the init action is

nrestore is like restore, but it notifies also the daemon to do new
rescan for available soundcards.

init tries to initialize all devices to a default state. If device is
not known, error code 99 is returned.

daemon manages to save periodically the sound state.

rdaemon like daemon but restore the sound state at first.

kill notifies the daemon to do the specified operation (quit, rescan,

monitor is for monitoring the events received from the given control

If no soundcards are specified, setup for all cards will be saved,
loaded or monitored.


-h, –help
Help: show available flags and commands.

-d, –debug
Use debug mode: a bit more verbose.

-v, –version
Print alsactl version number.

-f, –file
Select the configuration file to use. The default is

-l, –lock
Use the file locking to serialize the concurrent access to the
state file (this option is default for the global state file).

-L, –no-lock
Do not use the file locking to serialize the concurrent access
to the state file (including the global state file).

-O, –lock-state-file
Select the state lock file path.

-F, –force
Used with restore command. Try to restore the matching control
elements as much as possible. This option is set as default

-g, –ignore
Used with store and restore commands. Do not show ‘No soundcards
found’ and do not set an error exit code when soundcards are not

-P, –pedantic
Used with restore command. Don’t restore mismatching control
elements. This option was the old default behavior.

-I, –no-init-fallback
Don’t initialize cards if restore fails. Since version 1.0.18,
alsactl tries to initialize the card with the restore operation
as default. But this can cause incompatibility with the older
version. The caller may expect that the state won’t be touched
if no state file exists. This option takes the restore behavior
back to the older version by suppressing the initialization.

-r, –runstate
Save restore and init state to this file. The file will contain
only errors. Errors are appended with the soundcard id to the
end of file.

-R, –remove
Remove runstate file at first.

-E, –env #=#
Set environment variable (useful for init action or you may
override ALSA_CONFIG_PATH to read different or optimized config‐
uration – may be useful for “boot” scripts).

-i, –initfile
The configuration file for init. By default, PRE‐
FIX/share/alsa/init/00main is used.

-p, –period
The store period in seconds for the daemon command.

-e, –pid-file
The pathname to store the process-id file in the HDB UUCP format

-b, –background
Run the task in background.

-s, –syslog
Use syslog for messages.

-n, –nice
Set the process priority (see ‘man nice’)

-c, –sched-idle
Set the process scheduling policy to idle (SCHED_IDLE).

/var/lib/alsa/asound.state (or whatever file you specify with the -f
flag) is used to store current settings for your soundcards. The set‐
tings include all the usual soundcard mixer settings. More impor‐
tantly, alsactl is capable of controlling other card-specific features
that mixer apps usually don’t know about.

The configuration file is generated automatically by running alsactl
store. Editing the configuration file by hand may be necessary for some
soundcard features (e.g. enabling/disabling automatic mic gain, digital
output, joystick/game ports, some future MIDI routing options, etc).


amixer, alsamixer, aplay, alsactl_init(7)


None known.


alsactl is by Jaroslav Kysela and Abramo Bagnara
. This document is by Paul Winkler

07 May 2014 ALSACTL(1)

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