It is a fundamental part of my belief structure that computers should be silent, unless told otherwise. A default install of the operating system should not make any sounds, unless there is a really good reason to. Thus, I object to the following:

  • GDM beeping when it is ready to let me log in
  • login sounds
  • sound effects whenever I do anything, such as open or close windows
  • sound effects whenever the computer wants to tell me something that isn't particularly important, such as new e-mail, IRC or IM messages to me, the networking going up or down, or a hard disk going missing
  • a beep when I reboot or shutdown the computer

I'm sure there are situations when it would be OK for my computer to make noise to alert me. For example, supposed I'm asleep, and a zombie has penetrated my defensive perimeters and is about to chop off the top of my skull so it can devour my brain. In that case, I would be OK with my computer beeping. Once.

Some remedies:

  • With gdm3, edit /etc/gdm3/greeter.gconf-defaults to set /desktop/gnome/sound/event_sounds to false
  • Configure GNOME's sound theme to be "No sounds". (It should not be necessary to set "alert sounds" to muted, but it won't hurt either.)
  • Run amixer -q sset Beep off to shut up wall and other such tools. (I made an init.d script to make that happen automatically, and to make sure I don't forget it when I install new machines for myself.)

Now, it's possible that other people might like or need their computer to make sounds. I imagine, for example, that the GDM login-ready beep is to help people with vision problems. I'm all for that. However, I wish it be easier to shut things up in one simple place for those of us who don't need it.

Edit: Thanks to NP237, noshadow, lindi-, flightplan, and others on #debian-devel with help on shutting up wall.