Started looking and found only this, so far:
Hmm... yes; that's what I was afraid of - for in reading that link, I see:
"> It's the Compaq BIOS which tells the driver which resources the card can use"
I was really hoping to avoid having to deal with the BIOS, for machines of this vintage tend to be quite cumbersome. The BIOS on actual silicon within the unit is only a stub; the major portion of the BIOS code on these machines actually resided on a special partition at the end of the hard disk - and since I received this machine with no hard drive, it therefore essentially has almost no BIOS.
I had also hoped that the ES1869 itself would have been old enough to function on its own, as discrete hardware - but apparently, it's not. So; like nearly everything else nowadays, it too requires firmware in order to do anything at all (aside from consuming power.).
It's from 2008. He says:
Sound is now working with the following setting:
$ cat /proc/asound/cards
0 [ES1869 ]: ES1869 - ESS AudioDrive ES1869
ESS AudioDrive ES1869 at 0x220, irq 5, dma1 1, dma2 5
but there is some spurious clicking after playing some sounds.
Thank you, djohnston; that appears to be the required information. How should I implement those settings, though? Or, do I even need to? I'm thinking that if a proper BIOS partition were to be restored to this machine, then it is likely that alsaconf would in turn detect the sound device properly also and all would be fine.
#1, If it works with Slax, then I doubt the card is defective.
I agree... although I am also left wondering why. What's so different about Slax? As I reported, no other distro - not even Vector - was successful.
#2, Go to PCLOS Control Center, Hardware, Sound Configuration. See what driver is in use, and see if Enable Pulse Audio is enabled. Also, if pulseaudio installed on your system? It can cause conflicts with alsa.
No; PulseAudio wasn't installed - it was a straightforward default install of E17 Final, with the stock kernel; all I've done so far was a full system update and a little bit of Enlightenment customisation (installed Parcellite; arranged the shelf.).
PCC reported "No sound card detected"; additionally, no sound driver version is indicated on that same 'Sound Configuration' page.
#3, It is possible. See if any power-saving settings are on.
You might also try digging into the sound settings on Slax. I'm assuming you don't have Slax installed to hard drive.
True. I was live-booting it as a test only.
EDIT: Is PCLOS e17 installed to a hard drive? If so, are you using the original kernel?
Yes - I believe I mentioned that it is indeed installed onto a 20GB IDE hard drive.
Unavoidably, however, at this point it does seem to me that the next logical step would be to bite the bullet - wipe the drive; force-install Windows 98SE into a single undersized FAT32 partition; dig through the piles of old floppies and keep testing them until I eventually (hopefully?) find five usable diskettes that still have all of their sectors; write the authentic Compaq diagnostic software to them, and then finally utilise same to restore the BIOS partition - then delete the FAT32 partition, re-create the ReiserFS and swap partitions I have at present (minus then a tiny amount off the /home partition, to make allowance for the new BIOS partition at the end of the disk), and re-install the 2010 E17 yet again.