Linux Pulse Audio settings for Thunderbird

User Help for Mozilla Thunderbird

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Posts: 39
Joined: March 4th, 2008, 12:27 pm
Location: Dublin

Post Posted November 25th, 2017, 2:50 pm

This is one for all the Linux users, especially those of newer distros like Ubuntu that have Pulse Audio entrenched. Windows-only users, please be advised that unless you have access to a Pulse Audio system, its behaviour cannot be anticipated from anything you have have seen on Windows. I've not yet found a forum or list for user-level Pulse Audio issues.

Thunderbird on Linux has used Pulse Audio since version 52.0. I'm on Ubuntu 16.04 with Thunderbird version 52.4.0 but I cannot use Pulse Audio to assign the output sound device that Thunderbird uses.

For instance, whenever Firefox is playing sound, it appears as an application on the Playback tab of the Pulse Audio Volume Control application: from here I can tell Firefox to play out the headphones or the speakers by default, as well as set Firefox's own sound volume.

However, I can cannot get Thunderbird to appear as an application in this way, even when playing a long WAV file as a notification sound (which should give it enough time to appear on the Playback tab).

There is a command line utility pactl which shows sound settings for applications even when they're not playing sound:
Code: Select all
[9] anjaneya% pactl list clients
Client #96
    Driver: protocol-native.c
    Owner Module: 10
    Properties: = "Thunderbird"
        native-protocol.peer = "UNIX socket client"
        native-protocol.version = "30"
        application.icon_name = "thunderbird"
        application.version = "52.4.0" = "21111"
        application.process.user = "rphair" = "anjaneya"
        application.process.binary = "thunderbird"
        application.language = "en_GB.UTF-8"
        window.x11.display = ":0"
        application.process.machine_id = "f86758b92c84dfb147caa67d54bcf63b"
        application.process.session_id = "c2"

but I can't see how to use pactl to associate this "client" with the "sink" of the speakers vs. the headphones (users are expected to do this through the UI). At least the output above confirms that on my system Thunderbird is configured to use Pulse Audio.

One common use case: it'll never be useful to me if Thunderbird's new-mail notification goes out the headphones... which it always will, whenever the headphones are attached, until I can set Thunderbird's default playback device through Pulse Audio.


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Joined: July 30th, 2003, 5:06 pm

Post Posted November 26th, 2017, 12:00 pm ... audio.html describes the config files for pulse audio and mentions user config files take preference over the system ones. Is Firefox using a system or user config file? It also points you to man pulse-cli-syntax for how to change settings.

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