Working out of my “home office” these past two weeks I’ve found a few short comings in my setup. While on my first teleconference last week I spent an hour holding my cellphone to my head. Miserable. I never thought I’d miss a land line / speaker phone. Easy problem to solve though, just get a bluetooth headset on ebay. Top of the line will cost you $80 new.
Getting this to work with my cellphone was just a matter of pushing buttons. Nothing interesting. Getting it to work on my laptop (EliteBook 2560p running Debian Squeeze) was a bit of a trick. I’m a hopeless minimalist and I just want a simple GUI to manage my bluetooth devices and a new audio device to show up in alsamixer (1). The GUI can be either blueman or gnome-bluetooth. For the first time in a while I actually liked the gnome app better so that’s what I went with. Both worked fine for pairing the device.
Getting the Linux sound system to pick up the new devices was beyond me. The worst part was that all resources unearthed through web searches always pointed to stuff that didn’t work, or was a reference to the bluez wiki which has been down for 2 years. I tried a few times to hack a .asoundrc and just ended up feeling stupid. Unless you’ve got a day to burn don’t bother with this approach.
The solution I found was actually very simple once I found it. Turns out if you install pulseaudio it will do all the hard stuff for you (which I like). I only came to this solution after stumbling across a post on ask.debian.net: http://ask.debian.net/questions/how-to-make-bluetooth-headset-working-with-ekiga-in-squeeze. Nice fix that works perfectly. I had my bluetooth headset working on Squeeze in a matter of minutes after installing PulseAudio.