PC speaker

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The computer often seems to make beep noises or other sounds at various times, whether we want them or not. They come from various sources, and as such, you may be able to configure if or when they occur. For situations where no sound card or speakers are available and a simple audio notification is desired, see #Beep.

Sounds from the computer can be heard from the built-in case speaker, the speakers, or headphones which are plugged into the soundcard (in which case the noise may be unexpectedly loud).

Note: The sounds are caused by the BIOS (Basic Input/Output System), the OS (Operating System), the DE (Desktop Environment), or various software programs. The BIOS is a particularly troublesome problem because it is kept inside an EPROM chip on the motherboard, and the only direct control the user has is by turning the power on or off. Unless the BIOS setup has a setting you can adjust or you wish to attempt to reprogram that chip with the proper light source, it is not likely you will be able to change it at all. BIOS-generated beep sounds are not addressed here, except to say that unplugging your computer case speaker will stop all such sounds from being heard. (Do so at your own risk.)

Disable PC Speaker

Turning off a particular instance of a sound, while leaving the others operational, is possible if and only if one can identify which portion of the environment generates the particular sound. This allows customizing the selection of sounds. Please feel free to add any configurations and settings to this wiki page that may be useful for other users.

Globally

The PC speaker can be disabled by unloading the pcspkr kernel module:

# rmmod pcspkr

Blacklisting the pcspkr module will prevent udev from loading it at boot:

# echo "blacklist pcspkr" > /etc/modprobe.d/nobeep.conf

Blacklisting it on the kernel command line is yet another way. Simply add modprobe.blacklist=pcspkr to your bootloader's kernel line.

Xorg

$ xset -b

You can add this command to a startup file such as /etc/xprofile to make it permanent. See xprofile for more information.

Console

You can add this command in /etc/profile or a dedicated file like /etc/profile.d/disable-beep.sh:

setterm -blength 0

Another way is to add or uncomment this line in /etc/inputrc or ~/.inputrc:

set bell-style none

ALSA

For most sound cards the PC speaker is listed as an ALSA channel, named either PC Speaker, PC Beep, or Beep. To mute the speaker, either use alsamixer or amixer:

$ amixer set channel 0% mute

To unmute the channel, see Advanced Linux Sound Architecture#Unmuting the channels.

Tip: If you are using PulseAudio and the PC speaker channel is not listed for the default ALSA device, try selecting the device corresponding to the sound card - PulseAudio proxy controls may not list the PC speaker

GNOME

Using GSettings:

$ gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.wm.preferences audible-bell false

Cinnamon

Cinnamon seems to play a "water drop" sound. To disable it, set in dconf:

$ dconf write /org/cinnamon/desktop/wm/preferences/audible-bell false

GTK+

Append this line to ~/.gtkrc-2.0:

gtk-error-bell = 0

Add the same line to the [Settings] section of $XDG_CONFIG_HOME/gtk-3.0/settings.ini:

[Settings]
gtk-error-bell = 0

This is documented in the Gnome Developer Handbook.

Beep

Beep is an advanced PC speaker beeping program. It is useful for situations where no sound card and/or speakers are available, and simple audio notification is desired.

Installation

Install the beep package.

You may also need to unmute the PC speaker in ALSA.

Access for non-root users

By default beep will fail if not run by the root. Other users may call it using sudo. To let group users call sudo beep without a password (for example to use it in scripts), /etc/sudoers should be edited:

%users ALL=(ALL) NOPASSWD: /usr/bin/beep

or, to let only a single user do that:

username ALL=(ALL) NOPASSWD: /usr/bin/beep

Another way is setting the sticky bit on /usr/bin/beep:

# chmod 4755 /usr/bin/beep

Note however that this way anyone can execute /usr/bin/beep with root permissions. The change also creates a difference between local copy and the package, which will be reported by pacman -Qkk.

Tips and Tricks

While many people are happy with the traditional beep sound, some may like to change its properties a bit. The following example plays slighly higher and shorter sound and repeats it two times.

# beep -f 5000 -l 50 -r 2

See also