Free Software

Software Engineering with FOSS and Linux

Fixing sound after upgrading to Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala

I recently upgraded from Ubuntu Jaunty (9.04) to Karmic (9.10), and the sound stopped working. As a matter of fact, no sound card was detected. Searching around, it turned out that the problem lied with a wrong kernel version, which actually stems from an apparent bug in the new grub boot loader that ships with Karmic. Even though I’m using Ubuntu, this might affect other distributions that use the same boot loader. If you face a similar problem, try the following:

First, check your kernel version:

  • sudo uname -r

If you see a version below 2.6.31, do the following:

  • Delete your old /boot/grub/menu.lst file. Due to an apparent bug, grub will not overwrite it during distribution upgrade or subsequent upgrade-grub commands.
  • Run sudo update-grub. A new menu.lst will be generated, now pointing to the right kernel.
  • Install grub on your MBR. First make sure which device holds your MBR (most probably /dev/sda, but it might be /dev/hda if you have an old IDE disk), then run: sudo grub-install /dev/sda (replace with the proper device)
  • Reboot.

Hope this helps.

December 31, 2009 - Posted by | linux |


  1. I had this very issue, but I took a radical plan of action. I backed up my home folder and then did a clean install. I wish I’d known about this one sooner, as it would have been far easier.

    Comment by LCC | January 1, 2010 | Reply

  2. thanks man. very informative

    Comment by shindosai | January 1, 2010 | Reply

  3. This is the information i’m looking for… thnks..

    Comment by Imam Nirwan | January 12, 2010 | Reply

  4. Great it helpfull.

    Comment by john | February 15, 2010 | Reply

  5. It worked.
    I used the “sudo update-grub” command, which listed both of the installed kernels, and then I edited my /boot/grub/menu.lst to include the latest kernel number (added above the previous version which I copied and pasted). Following a reboot the mouse and sound are both working again. The problem, according to my research, came about as a result of keeping the original menu.lst from Ubuntu 9.04 — the reason for which is a whole different problem. Nice to finally have the system up and running.

    Comment by Richard | March 1, 2010 | Reply

  6. Oh yeah, made my day!

    Comment by Bratherlui | April 18, 2010 | Reply

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