How to prevent Ubuntu 19.10 (Eoan Ermine) from switching to HDMI Audio

Once again I am giving Linux a chance as my Desktop Operating System at home. I have been doing that every 4-5 years for the past almost 20 years to see if it has finally reached a state where it is usable for my everyday after-work tasks.

One of the first mildly infuriating issues I came across is that the way it handles Audio is highly surprising. Every time I log in – be it after rebooting or after the screen has locked itself due to inactivity, the audio is still playing through the Speakers (connected to the on-board-sound) but the Volume Control has decided to control the volume of the HDMI output, which has no effect since no audio is connected to HDMI.

So effectively, the Volume Control becomes unusable until I go into the sound settings and change the output device back from HDMI to “Line Out”.

There are many different solutions proposed on the Internet, which mostly do not work – using PulseAudio Volume Control (pavucontrol) to set the Profile of the HDMI Audio to “Off” did not persist the setting and was back to “broken” after logging out and back in.

What did the trick was a solution originally intended for Ubuntu 10.10 – namely to disable the module-switch-on-port-available module of PulseAudio.

This is achieved by commenting out (add a # to the beginning) the following line in the file /etc/pulse/default.pa

# load-module module-switch-on-port-available

After that, PulseAudio needs to be killed:

pulseaudio -k

And then restarted (e.g. by logging out and back in).

Now the volume control does not seem to automatically break itself all the time.

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