Pulse Audio for Multi-User System

My wife and I share the same computer. If both of us log into the computer (via her switching to another user from my account) then we have issues with Audio only working for only one of us. That is, if she is done but stays logged in and I switch back to my account, then I don’t have any audio. Looking at the settings config under devices, my sound-card doesn’t even show up anymore. Presumably it is taken by my wife’s login. It appears that by default, Pulse Audio isn’t setup for multi-user and thus only one user can have access to the sound card at a time?

I’ve fixed this one time before but now I can’t remember how I did it. If you know what this issue is and can point me in the right direction on how to solve it, I would very much appreciate it.

Have you had a look at this: https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/PulseAudio
Particularly where it speaks about config files, and each user being able to have individual config?

Yes, I have looked it over. Specifically, it mentions this:

There is usually no need to add your user to the audio group, as PulseAudio uses udev and logind to give access dynamically to the currently “active” user. Exceptions would include running the machine headless so that there is no currently “active” user.

It would seem that by default it should work in multi-user setup already if I’m reading that correctly but that isn’t the case for me.


This might be a long shot, but:

Unless something has changed recently, a default EndeavourOS installation puts the user into a whole bunch of unnecessary (pre-systemd) groups, including audio.

The Arch Wiki notes that:

adding users to the groups can even cause some functionality to break (for example, the audio group will break fast user switching and allows applications to block software mixing).

So maybe being in the audio group is breaking fast user switching for you?

[You can check what groups your user is in by simply entering groups in a terminal.]

Perhaps you could try removing your users from the audio group.

sudo gpasswd -d username audio

(replacing username with the actual name of each user)

Then logout and back in (or reboot).

Again, this might be a long shot. I’m not sure that this is the cause of the issue you’re having, but I can tell you that removing yourselves from the audio group should at least cause no harm. I have removed all superfluous groups from my installation, so that my user is only in the wheel group.


Why oh why??

Weird…not sure what’s meant by “fast user switching” here, but i still can switch users…fast i guess :laughing:
Also this group is required for realtime stuff :slight_smile:


I’m not sure what it means either, but - since the OP is experiencing issues with audio when switching users - I though it might be worth a shot.

As I said, it’s probably a long shot.

And yes, there can be valid reasons for adding a user to various groups, but for most people it isn’t necessary.


I think @anon3337769 is correct maybe. :slightly_smiling_face:

1 Like