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. In situations where no sound card or speakers are available and simple audio notification is desired, use beep. The beep package provides an advanced PC speaker beeping program.

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 for a customized selection of attention-getting sounds possible. Please feel free to add any configurations and settings to this wiki page that may be useful for other users.


The PC speaker can be disabled by unloading the pcspkr module, which is provided by the linux kernel:

# 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.


$ xset -b

You can add this command to a startup file, such as xprofile to make it permanent.


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

setterm -blength 0

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

set bell-style none


Tip: For most Intel's cards, if you do not see PC Speaker in alsamixer's default device, then try selecting "HDA Intel PCH" device by pressing F6. It is listed as "Beep" there. This is because PulseAudio proxy controls may not list all PC Speakers.

Try muting the PC Speaker:

$ amixer set 'PC Speaker' 0% mute

For certain sound cards, it is the PC Beep:

$ amixer set 'PC Beep' 0% mute

Or merely Beep:

$ amixer set 'Beep' 0% mute

You can also use alsamixer for a console GUI

$ alsamixer

Scroll to PC beep and press 'M' to mute. Save your alsa settings:

# alsactl store
Note: Not every sound card creates a PC Speaker or PC Beep slider control in alsamixer.


Using GSettings:

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


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

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


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:

gtk-error-bell = 0

This is documented in the Gnome Developer Handbook.


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.


Install the beep package.

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.

Unmuting in alsamixer

You should also unmute the Beep channel using alsamixer.

$ alsamixer

You may need to press F6 and select your card. scroll to the Beep channel using the arrow keys and press M to unmute the channel. notice that the "MM" label below the channel will change to "00". you can also use to increase the volume of the channel.

Press Esc to close alsamixer.

You can also save your settings to ALSA Mixer to make it permanent:

# alsactl -f /var/lib/alsa/asound.state store

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

  • Have a look at these man pages for further information: xset(1), setterm(1), readline(3).