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frugal technology, simple living and guerrilla large-appliance repair
Tue, 17 Jan 2012

Use alsamixer to turn off the annoying, loud beep (aka system bell) in Debian Squeeze when you shutdown or restart

Before I installed the 2.6.39 kernel from Backports on my Debian Squeeze system, I quieted the annoyingly loud system beep (aka system bell; it used to be a real bell back in the day) from startling me and waking others by "blacklisting" the pcspkr in /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist.conf.

Since that stopped working in 2.6.39, and the beep returned (it is LOUD), I figured there had to be another way to shut it up. A bit of Googling gave me another potential solution from this Linux Questions.

This may work for you, but it doesn't work for me with Debian Squeeze and the 2.6.39 Linux kernel:

  • Using your rootly privileges, in the file /etc/inputrc, uncomment (i.e. remove the # at the beginning from) the following line:

set bell-style none

And now (drum roll please .....) this is what worked for me, courtesy of the Debian User mailing list:

  • Use Alsamixer in a terminal to silence the system beep.

If you've never used alsamixer in a terminal before (unfortunately I have many times), here's how you open the app and silence the beep:

  1. Open your favorite terminal emulator (GNOME Terminal, Xterm, etc.)
  2. At the prompt, type alsamixer
  3. In alsamixer, use the arrow keys to select the Beep slider
  4. Once you've selected the Beep slider, type the letter m to mute the Beep
  5. To exit alsamixer, click the Esc key
  6. That's it. If your system is anything like mine, you'll now be free of the annoying system beep (aka system bell) at shutdown.

Here is what my alsamixer looked like before I made the fix:

And after:

Click either image above for a full-size view of my GNOME terminal window.