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Mysteries of sound in Fedora-9

I'm finding it very difficult to understand
the Sound setup in Fedora-9 with KDE.

Previously, sound did not work at all when I re-booted.
But after some unrecorded sequence of clicks
on f=>Applications=>Multimedia=>Sound Mixer
it suddenly started working.

Today, I wondered if the problem was something to do
with pulseaudio, so I tried killing this and re-starting it.
But I got the more or less incomprehensible error message below:
[tim elizabeth ~]$ sudo killall pulseaudio
[tim elizabeth ~]$ sudo pulseaudio -D
W: main.c: This program is not intended to be run as root (unless --system
is specified).
[tim elizabeth ~]$ pulseaudio -D
N: main.c: Called SUID root and real-time/high-priority scheduling was
requested in the configuration. However, we lack the necessary priviliges:
N: main.c: We are not in group 'pulse-rt' and PolicyKit refuse to grant us
priviliges. Dropping SUID again.
N: main.c: For enabling real-time scheduling please acquire the appropriate
PolicyKit priviliges, or become a member of 'pulse-rt', or increase the
RLIMIT_NICE/RLIMIT_RTPRIO resource limits for this user.

So I added myself to the pulse-rt entry in /etc/group with vigr
(and the shadow file with vigr -S).
Then I pressed ctrl-alt-backspace and logged in again.

Now I get sound, but it is very quiet,
although every slider that I can see is pushed to the maximum.
Also the loudspeaker in the panel has disappeared.
I thought this was the icon for Sound Mixer,
but I find this is not so;
when I right click on Sound Mixer and add the icon to the panel
it is quite different.

Surely I cannot be the only person having these problems
with Sound under Fedora-9?
I should say that this is on an IBM ThinkPad T23.

Multimedia and in particular Sound is easily the weakest chain
in Fedora, and has been for several versions of Fedora.
The whole Sound system is absurdly complicated,
and disentangling it is like eating spaghetti.

I'd like to say to the Fedora and KDE sound teams,
"Please don't add or subtract anything
until you have properly documented what is already there.
Try adding some test files, and check that your error messages
are comprehensible, with advice on what steps to take."

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