The other day, I stopped hearing any sound effects on my Toshiba Satellite work laptop, which has an Intel HDA sound card. I’m running Karmic Koala, so I rolled up my sleeves and dug into the cause.
As an experienced Linux user I’m familiar with the occasional driver problems due to using computers effectively designed for Windows; and as a 2 year Ubuntu user, I’ve also been burned — constantly! — by automated software updates that totally hose some functionality in my system.
This time, I’m not really sure what the cause was, but this forum post had the magic elixir:
rm -rf ~/.pulse killall pulseaudio
Apparently my Pulse Audio settings were the problem because after I removed that directory and restarted X, I had sound again.