I’m new to the Ubuntu scene and recently have been struggling with getting sound working in all of my Ubuntu applications. After spending weeks working on the problem, I finally learned by reading many discussions around the internet that PulseAudio was a catalyst to many Linux Sound System problems. PulseAudio comes with Ubuntu by default so that explains why I was having problems. After uninstalling PulseAudio (from the Synaptic package manager) most of my sound system started working again. However games and applications using SDL to access the sound system would fail with the following error:
sound initialisation failed: No available audio device
Having the source code for the game called “Blood Frontier” located here I found that the call made to: Mix_OpenAudio() was failing. This is used in MANY other games and applications out there as well (like Sauerbraten, and Nexuiz, etc). The simple way to solve this is found in the Synaptic Package Manager. You need to look for the package libsdl1.2debian-alsa and check it (while doing so automatically unchecks the libsdl1.2debian-pulseaudio). The key problem here being that the SDL shared libraries were expecting to get sound device info from pulseaudio which no longer exists and you need the ALSA sdl drivers.
As a side note there is also a package called: libsdl1.2debian-all which may contain what you need for all sound systems, but I don’t know if that is the case, and I have not tested that package.