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GNU/Linux Desktop Survival Guide
by Graham Williams
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Keeping the Machine Quiet


As a notebook that is taken around while travelling, and used in public areas (like whilst listening to presentations at conferences) it is not so nice to have the computer making any noise whilst booting or shutting down, or any other time, unexpectedly. It is always annoying hearing MW/Windows booting with its familiar opening signature tune (and I wish those users would find the configuration option to turn the sound off on a boot). The apparently uncontrollable beep emitted by Ganesha on booting (which seems to be around the starting up of hald) was an annoyance!

Trying lots of alternatives and searching, I finally have several places where I quieten things down so that I now have a quiet system, unless I run a music player, but that is purposeful noise!

The first task was to get rid of any beeps from any daemons as they start up. As best I could tell, there is just one that was emitting an audible beep during the boot, and it was around the time the following message appears, but I could not track it down specifically:

Starting Hardware Abstraction Layer: hald

A solution mentioned on http://doc.gwos.org/index.php/TurnOffBeep is to remove the PC speaker driver with the command:

modprobe -r pcspkr

That works to an extent, placing it into /etc/rc.local. But this gets executed very late in the boot process. So noticing that /etc/init.d/sysklogd looks to be executed pretty early in the boot process, I added the line at the end of this script (just before the exit 0). This seems to fix the beeps! (But a future update may overwrite the change!)

I have also seen a suggestion (081116, http://debian.helicroc.com/inspiron.html) that we just need to edit /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist to add:

blacklist pcspkr

Also, to tell gdm not to beep on starting up the display manager, I added the following to the end of /etc/gdm/Init/Default:

xset -b

Peace and quiet at last!

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