If the PCM subchannel stops during capture

When capturing, the PCM subchannel stops if the hardware has no room for additional data left in its buffer.

This can happen if the application can't consume data at the rate that the hardware is producing data. A real-world example of this is when the application is preempted for a period of time by a higher-priority process. If this preemption continues long enough, the data buffer may be filled before the application can remove any data.

When this happens, the subchannel changes state to SND_PCM_STATUS_OVERRUN. In this state, it won't provide any more data (i.e., snd_pcm_read() and snd_pcm_plugin_read() fail) and the subchannel doesn't restart capturing.

The only ways to move out of this state are to close the subchannel or to re-prepare the channel as you did before. This forces the application to recognize and take action to get out of the overrun state; this is primarily for applications that want to synchronize audio with something else. Consider the difficulties involved with synchronization if the subchannel simply were to move back to the SND_PCM_STATUS_RUNNING state from overrun when space became available; the recorded sample would be discontinuous.