How to fry speakers in your Chromebook

Lot of people asked me how I managed to fry left speaker in my Chromebook. There are also few which said that it is Ubuntu fault.

So today I used recovery to wipe out my installation of Ubuntu from device and decided to check under Chromium OS. And yes, I got nice smell of burnt plastic etc coming from left speaker area.

Why? Because it is kernel bug. Not Ubuntu, ALSA or user. Ok, it is a bit of user’s fault cause you should not have to play with ALSA mixer. But you can — all binaries are part of Chromium OS stable.

So let me give you needed steps:

  1. Boot Samsung Chromebook (ARM one) to Chromium OS
  2. Login or use guest session
  3. Run terminal (Ctrl+Alt+t)
  4. Run “alsamixer -c0″
  5. Set “Lineout” to highest value
  6. Unmute everything what starts with “Left” or “Right” (depends which speaker you do not like)
  7. Touch speakers (but better not for long)
  8. Hold “Power” button to shut down before it will burn though your desk.

In normal situation I would assume that sound driver will take care of combinations which may break your hardware. But looks like Chromebook developers did had such idea.

Is this howto useful? I think it is. Cause if you have device broken in some way and you want to get it replaced you can just run it and hope for replacement instead of repair.

And when next time someone will write me “go and fix ubuntu rather than putting blame on samsung. Its Ubuntu which is the cause” like I got in recent comment I will just ban such person from commenting.

13 thoughts on “How to fry speakers in your Chromebook

  1. Michal Schulz

    Now THIS is scary! So, you do not even need root privileges to physically burn your hardware? Damn, I was blaming Samsung for my faulty I9001 phone – many of the issues I had were related to the software provided by Samsung, but that’s nothing compared to your issues with Chromebook.

      1. Siarhei Siamashka

        Just curious. Is it possible to access the console and “sudo” without activating the developer mode?

        1. Rune K. Svendsen

          No, it’s not. The shell is only available in developer mode. You have access to a terminal when not in developer mode, but only with limited functionality (Ctrl+Alt+T).

  2. Exophase

    I suspected that the problem was due to enabling both left and right DAC output simultaneously to the same speaker (double driving).. I was careful not to do this when I unmuted things in alsamixer (only unmuting left speaker left DAC and right speaker right DAC) and I haven’t had a problem. But all of the speculation I’ve heard regarding this said it was something else.

    If this is the case it definitely sounds like there should be safeguards in the driver to prevent it :/

  3. Alex

    This is NOT a kernel bug. This is bad hardware. Once upon a time, you could destroy a CRT monitor by sending it a bad signal. The monitor manufacturers stopped making such stupidly fragile products.

  4. JanC

    Of course the driver in the kernel can work around hardware bugs, but only if it knows about the bug’s existence. And somehow I doubt the hardware came with an errata sheet explaining this…

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