On Windows, the full volume is a real window-cracker. What is the problem with Linux then? (I could replicate the same issue on Ubuntu 9.04 too.. that should explain why I went for generic "Linux" and NOT "fedora"). Then I found this bug filed in the fedora bugzilla which made things clearer (actually, they didn't). Don't bother to read, it went swooosh over my head. The only thing that stuck was - How to solve the problem.
Here it is:
Make sure you have the package "alsa-utils" installed.
$ sudo yum install alsa-utils
$ sudo apt-get install alsa-utils
$ alsamixer -c 0
and increase the master volume beyond green area to the red area. (I understand that the red area implies increased noise, but I didn't really notice much of a difference with a slightly less than maximum setting. Even with max master volume, there is only a slightly noticeable noise)
I don't understand why this control is hidden away in such a manner. What is the whole point? Why not export a GUI for it? Weird. Probably they'll fix it in fedora 12. There's been a lot of work in the sound area in the last 6 months. There are going to be some bugs afterall. Anyway, this healed my ego :P. Linux sound is at-par with any other sound system! It makes me happy!