[CentOS] CentOS 3.8 and ESS ES1878 sound chip?

Aleksandar Milivojevic alex at milivojevic.org
Sun Oct 22 19:54:34 UTC 2006

ragu at vsnl.com wrote:
> Aleksandar
>>> the onboard  sound card is ISA.   Is there an  easy way to get  isapnp kernel
>>> module for CentOS 3.8, other than recompiling the kernel
> This card can be configured and you can make it work using 'isapnptools' .
> http://www.roestock.demon.co.uk/isapnptools/

I've planned to send email back to the list with the progress I had so 
far.  However, since there were couple of things I wasn't 100% sure they 
are correct, I kind of hold on it.

I'll describe what I have so far, and if anybody can help me finish it, 
it would be splendid.

I found the device driver for SoundBlaster cards (sb.o) in 
kernel-unsupported package.  It contains device drivers for bunch of 
other cards not present in standard kernel too.  The kernel-unsupported 
is just collection of additional device drivers for standard kernel, not 
replacement of standard kernel.  Which is kind of nice.  The ISA devices 
seem to work just fine with standard kernel.  Which is kind of to be 
expected, built-in serial/parallel ports on many motherboards are ISA 

In BIOS, I've changed setting to be as follows:

Plug & Play OS              No
On Board Audio:
   I/O Base Address:         0x220
   IRQ Channel:              IRQ5
   Capture DMA Channel:      DMA CH1
   Playback DMA Channel:     DMA CH3
   FM I/O Base Address:      0x388
   MPU I/O Base Address:     0x300
Joystick:                   0x201
Audio Control Interface:    0x800

After that I updated /etc/modules.conf with above info.  I've found that 
sb device driver isn't best at automatically detecting settings, so I've 
passed them as parameters.  There's couple of things I'm unsure of.

Sb device driver has two options to specify DMA channels.  dma for 8-bit 
DMA channel and dma16 for 16-bit DMA channel.  However, in my BIOS these 
are called "capture" and "playback".  Hmmm...  I've found on the web 
that some people were passing capture DMA channel using dma option 
(8-bit DMA channel), and passed -1 as option to dma16 (thus disabling 
it).  I'm not exactly sure if this is correct.  Should I have used 
playback DMA instead as parameter for dma (or maybe for dma16)?  It 
would be nice if somebody could shed some light onto this.

I guess the correct driver for "FM" stuff is opl3, and driver for MPU 
stuff is mpu401.  Those should be MIDI devices, right?  Wrong?  I 
haven't yet really tested them.  If I place a line like "alias midi 
opl3" in /etc/modules.conf (as many pages I found suggest), the opl3 
driver is not loaded automatically.  However, if I place something like 
"alias sound-slot-1 opl3", than it is loaded.  Not sure if this is right 
thing to do though.  Anyhow, what about that mpu401?  Is it used for 
anything at all?  I also see there's uart401 module that gets loaded 
automatically when sound module loads.

There's also ESS specific audio control interface at 0x800.  It seems it 
is not used by sb device driver.  I remember that some ESS chips work 
only in 8-bit when emulating SoundBlaster cards, and for 16-bit stuff 
ESS native driver is needed (which would than use that 0x800 port). 
I've no idea if that is the case with the 1878 chip too.

Currently, my /etc/modules.conf looks like this:

# Ethernet
alias eth0 xircom_cb
alias eth1 orinoco_cs
alias usb-controller usb-uhci
# Sound
alias sound-slot-0 sb
options sb io=220 irq=5 dma=1 dma16=-1 isapnp=0 esstype=1878
options mpu401 io=0x300
options opl3 io=0x388
post-install sound-slot-0 /bin/aumix-minimal -f /etc/.aumixrc -L 
 >/dev/null 2>&! || :
pre-remove sound-slot-0 /bin/aumix-minimal -f /etc/.aumixrc -S 
 >/dev/null 2>&1 || :
# This seems to be needed to actually use IRQ assigned to parallel port
options parport_pc io=0x378 irq=7

I can use the sound card (yeeee), but I'm not sure if all the settings 
are really correct and optimal.  Especially the DMA stuff.

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