alsa-firmware missing from major desktop spins

Enrico Tagliavini enrico.tagliavini at
Sun Jun 7 12:16:43 UTC 2015

I think desktops should just have firmware by default give the very
small size. Sure packagekit detecting the missing firmware and
prompting for installation would be very nice but there are a couple
of quite hard problems to solve here:

1. Driver needs to be reloaded, which means rebooting the system most
of the times. This is annoying.
2. Internet connection is required: this might not always be
available. I have a additional USB sound card, no idea if that
requires the firmware, but if it does and I plug it in while on the
road I'm out of luck using it. Not the most typical use case for sure
but can happen.

That said it would solve the problem, even if the user might get some
annoyance just for 11 MB more disk space.

Best regards

On 6 June 2015 at 23:46, Peter Robinson <pbrobinson at> wrote:
> On Thu, Jun 4, 2015 at 4:06 PM, Enrico Tagliavini
> <enrico.tagliavini at> wrote:
>> Hi there,
>> I've just done a fresh install of Fedora 22 KDE spin on a Dell
>> Alienware 15 and stumbled upon a very weird issue: audio works, but
>> volume control is broken. This is due to alsa-firmware being missing
>> from the default installation group.
>> Had a quick chat with Rex Dieter (rdieter) in #fedora-kde and he told me:
>> <rdieter_work> commit 320e6ccc3b524a5146daafe7717cdc18598d97e6 Author:
>> Peter Robinson <pbrobinson at> Date:   Sat May 31 21:02:43 2014
>> +0100
>> <rdieter_work>     make alsa-firmware optional. It supports a tiny
>> collection of specialist devices and adds reasonable size to minimal
>> images
>> but I wonder if this is still the case. Currently it seems there are
>> root at alientux ~ # rpm -ql alsa-firmware | grep '^/lib/firmware' | awk
>> -F / '{print $4}' | uniq | wc -l
>> 19
>> drivers and about
>> root at alientux ~ # rpm -ql alsa-firmware | grep '^/lib/firmware' | grep
>> '\..\+$' | wc -l
>> 100
>> firmware files. I can agree that most of them might not be very
>> common, but it doesn't sound very good not to give people with such
>> hardware a sub-optimal out of the box experience.
>> My specific case:
>> root at alientux ~ # lspci | grep Audio
>> 00:03.0 Audio device: Intel Corporation Xeon E3-1200 v3/4th Gen Core
>> Processor HD Audio Controller (rev 06)
>> 00:1b.0 Audio device: Intel Corporation 8 Series/C220 Series Chipset
>> High Definition Audio Controller (rev 05)
>> which means snd_hda_intel with creative chip. The driver requires
>> firmware file ctefx.bin to work correctly.
>> The minimal image size argument is still very valid in my opinion.
>> People using this kind of minimal images are unlikely to have this
>> hardware. However people installing Workstation or KDE spins are
>>   1. interested in having a good out of the box hardware support
>>   2. possibly are not expert enough to know about dmesg or firmware
>> packages (not I'm a professional SysAdmin, and still this turned out
>> not to be trivial mostly due to cluttered dmesg because of the
>> wireless driver ath10k having massive problems with firmware)
>>   3. size matter less for these images. They are over 1 GB already and
>> the entire alsa-firmware package is 11 MB on disk.
>> I would like to ask for your opinion and possibly bring alsa-firmware
>> back by default for the proper use cases (mainly desktop spins).
> Yes, so the solution there is to bring it back via the comps mechanism
> so it's included in Workstation or other desktop UX spins where it's
> arguably useful. It's not a solution to revert the above commit
> because then it gets pulled into a bunch of other areas where it is of
> no use what so ever.
> Even better would be something like PackageKit pulling it in when
> specific HW is detected similar to the codec/printer other HW support
> mechanism (not sure how it works these days, my knowledge might be
> outdated here) is enabled. This would allow the vast majority of users
> that don't have the HW to not need it.
> Peter
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