Ever since I bought my Asus EeePC 1201n about a year ago, I’ve had trouble with the microphone. With Kubuntu 10.04, I had to chop up Alsa to get it working properly, and even then, it stopped working again after updates. The latest version of Kubuntu, 10.10, presented a new issue: Pulseaudio.
I have never been a fan of Pulseaudio, particularly for KDE, since it did not have real KDE integration. Apparently, various distribution developers have been working to better integrate Pulseaudio with Phonon and KMix. What I have discovered is that it still does not work well with KMix, particularly with laptop hotkeys. The volume control will jump all the way up or down when I simply press it one time.
At any rate, the microphone is something I need for Skype, and to my surprise, using Pulseaudio was actually a lot easier. All I had to do was install pavucontrol (the pulseaudio volume control program). Once I started it, I clicked on the input tab, pressed the “lock” button to unlock to the two channels (because the mic actually only has one channel), pulled the right volume all the way down to zero, and pulled the left one up to about 85%. Poof! Like magic, the microphone started working.
This is the kind of thing that should work out of the box when you buy a device with Linux installed on it, but when you are installing it yourself, you run into these little problems. Fortunately, enough people complained about it on forums so that it got the attention it needed, and someone came up with a solution.