Ubuntu 12.04: SToggle – HDMI sound toggle/switch

I’m a newb when it comes to scripting and pretty much anything Linux related. But even so, I’m a bit proud of this script because now I can toggle hdmi audio on my laptop from either my main user account or guest account (that, and the fact that I spent 5 hours trying to find a way to get the script to work)! 😀

So, apparently my udev rules were working. The problem was the script. I learned that running scripts in a terminal, in the background, or by udev isn’t the same; environment variables are different and when you use ‘who’ or ‘w’ in a script that isn’t running in the terminal, it’ll display nothing. I guess in older versions of Ubuntu, when you used
USER="$(who | grep :0 | cut -f 1 -d ' ' | head -n 1)"
a line would show for the gnome-session (tty7)? But as far as I can tell, it wasn’t showing in Ubuntu 12.04 (and apparently 11.10 because in my Ubuntu 11.10 VM, it didn’t show up either). Technically, the script (MToggle) works if you had a terminal opened on TTY opened (probably why I thought it worked). But since I had a terminal opened at most times, I just assumed the script worked.

In 11.10 and 12.04, you could get around this by just putting your actual username for USER, but then it wouldn’t work if you had other users that used the same computer. But then again, the script was made for laptops in mind and I doubt it would work for desktops because it depends on the change of hdmi status… I’m not sure.

But what about guest accounts? What about changing usernames? I didn’t like the fact that I was just using my username in the script to get it to work. So I started searching the filesystem for anything that could tell me about the active user logged on. Eventually I found a file called “database” in “/var/run/ConsoleKit” which had info about “x11_display”, which one was active, and the UID of that corresponded to the displays. So the script:

# Sound Toggle
# By Charles Cruz
# The following script toggles the between laptop speakers and hdmi audio (if detected).
# Version 1.0

USERID="$(cat /var/run/ConsoleKit/database | grep -B 6 is_active=true | grep uid= | cut -f 2 -d '=')"
USER="$(grep $USERID /etc/passwd | cut -f 1 -d ':')"
HDMI_STATUS="$(cat /sys/class/drm/card0-HDMI-A-1/status)"

if [ "${HDMI_STATUS}" = connected ]; then
sudo -u $USER pactl set-card-profile 0 output:hdmi-surround
sudo -u $USER pactl set-card-profile 0 output:analog-stereo+input:analog-stereo

exit 0


  1. In a terminal:
    sudo gedit /etc/udev/rules.d/hdmi.rules
  2. Copy, paste, then save:
    SUBSYSTEM=="drm", ACTION=="change", RUN+="/usr/local/bin/SToggle"
  3. In the terminal:
    sudo udevadm control --reload-rules
  4. In the terminal:
    sudo gedit /usr/local/bin/SToggle
  5. Copy and paste the script above and then save it.
  6. In the terminal:
    sudo chmod 755 /usr/local/bin/SToggle

And that should do it! Hope it works!