Ubuntu 12.04: Now With Quieter Logins

With all of the changes in Ubuntu’s desktop over the past few months, it might seem remarkable that Ubuntu’s logon sound has been basically unchanged in 5 years. The sound theme was designed by a community contributor named Peter Savage. Back in those “edgy” days, Ubuntu had more of an African flavor which is of course reflected in the sound theme. (Peter also has contributed to Edubuntu and wrote Emblem Divide, a sci-fi book distributed at no cost but the author encourages readers to contribute to charities.)

I had only been using Ubuntu for a few months at that point so I have a hard time remembering what the earlier sound theme was (which had been introduced for Ubuntu’s first release, Warty Warthog in 2004). For historical reference, here are the sound clips:

Warty Startup

Warty Shutdown

Edgy Login Sound

For a while, I was thinking that Ubuntu should have a community contest similar to the wallpaper and countdown banner ones. More recently, I think that it would be better not to have a login sound at all. How many of us have had our computers (Ubuntu, Windows XP or whatever) or cellphones loudly announce to everyone that they have been turned on, too often at the wrong time? I think a historical reason for the logon sound was because computers used to take a long time to turn on. Fortunately, Ubuntu boots pretty quickly these days so that reason is obsolete.

Today, I uploaded a new version of libcanberra to Precise (12.04) which disables the login sound by default:

  * 02_disable_login_sound.patch:
    - Disable the login sound by default, since it seems to be more
      disruptive than helpful especially with faster boots

If you still like hearing the login sound, click Startup Applications in the system menu at the top right of your computer and make sure the GNOME Login Sound box is checked. (Or if you’re using Ubuntu 11.10 or earlier and don’t like it, make sure that box is unchecked.)

I’d like to close by reminding you that it’s possible to contribute to Ubuntu without being a Canonical employee and without even being a programmer. You contributions can have a big impact like Peter’s 7-second composition which has been heard by tens of millions of people since 2006.

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Posted in Ubuntu
38 comments on “Ubuntu 12.04: Now With Quieter Logins
  1. Ronco says:

    The “Warty Shutdown” link is incorrect.

  2. Balint says:

    Canonical and freesound.org should team up and organize a competition.

  3. warrioring64 says:

    Kind of sad…I was one of the people looking forward to a new sound theme to match the Light themes, especially with a community contest held for 11.04 seemingly for that purpose. The login sound is basically the only sound left I ever hear Ubuntu make, and now it’s gone.

    Perhaps it would be less disruptive if it was just made shorter? Look at Windows Vista/7, for example: its startup sound is maybe only 3 seconds long, and its login sound is even shorter than that.

    • Jeremy Bicha says:

      If someone designed a great, short login sound, it could probably replace the Edgy sound. Perhaps three notes for U-bun-tu.

      But I don’t think most people would want it on by default even if it were more awesome.

      • John Ruschmeyer says:

        Rereading the original post and following the replies, I am bothered by something- it seems as though this change was made with no consideration of impact or of community needs/desires of the community of users. Instead, a developer with commit authority decides that because he doesn’t like something then obviously no one must.

        I realize I’m probably being overdramatic, but it seems like a number of high-profile changes to Ubuntu over the past few years (e.g., moving the window controls, Unity) have been made by individuals and small groups who then respond to complaints from the larger community with an atitude of “Well, that’s how it’s going to be from now on, so just get used to it.”

        My apologies if I’m wrong, but I’d like to know how the change can be traced to a requirement, Change Request, Bug Report, etc.

        • Jeremy Bicha says:

          The Ubuntu Desktop Team decided (in late September actually I believe) that the logon sound was dated and would be better off disabled. Package maintainers (since they’re doing the work) have authority to make decisions they think best for the packages they maintain. With a short 6-month development cycle, it’s not possible to poll the community in advance for every decision. What if 50% of respondents support a change and 50% don’t? Do we really want to stuff more red tape in Ubuntu’s or Debian’s development processes? In fact, with many million users, there were always be a large number who don’t like decisions.

          I believe I acted in good faith since I implemented the change relatively early in the development cycle 2 months before feature & UI freeze and blogged on the Planet to make reasonable efforts to notify any one that may be effected. If it was the wrong decision, there’s plenty of time to revert.

          That being said, I still believe the decision is the right thing to do. 75% of individuals who bothered completing the insta-poll at omgubuntu.co.uk agree.

          I was aware of the possible accessibility issue for blind users even before pushing the change. I will follow up with the Ubuntu Accessibility Team (TheMuso in particular) after the holidays.

          Re: your other concerns: The window button choice was made by Ubuntu’s leader (who for better or for worse has the authority to make those controversial decisions, but he also pays a lot of the bills too). Now that Unity is released it actually makes some sense. A straw poll of Ubuntu developers shortly before Ubuntu 11.04 was released agreed with the decision to release Unity as default so it wasn’t just a small group.

  4. [...] mañana, uno de los primeros articulos que leí, fué el de Jeremy Bicha, donde anunciaba haber editado el archivo libcanberra, para que [...]

  5. krs says:

    great decision. Login sound are really annoying on portable devices. and not very useful on desktop. Personally the first thing I do with a new os install/ new device is getting rid of all the sound notifications.

  6. John Ruschmeyer says:

    I disagree with the idea that startup sounds are artificts of a long startup process. Rather, I think they are another piece of the overall theming of an OS. A good startup sound should place the user at peace with the impending computer experience while also being a source of subtle brand identification.

    Listening to the clips, I find I actually prefer the Warty clips. There is a sense of the tranquility and expectance. The Edgy sound, on the other hand, seems to take Ubuntu’s African roots almost too seriously and leaving the impression that we are about to go on a safari.

    I can relate to the embarassment of turning on a phone with an obnoxious sound (I’ve owned two generations of Motorola Droid.), but disabling the sound by default is the wrong approach. By doing so, you deprive Ubuntu of a branding opportunity and deprive the user of a comforting transition.

  7. test says:

    Can you convert Warty wav file to ogg that can be directly run from Firefox browser without downloading the file and search for music player that can run a file…

  8. manny says:

    finally!

    it was kinda ok back in the brown days, but time to retire it.

  9. [...] 12.04 zostanie usunięty domyślny dźwięk logowania do systemu. Wyłączenie zostanie dodane z łatką Jeremy Bicha, który po wielu testach stwierdził, że nie potrzebnie taka funkcjonalność wydłuża czas [...]

  10. jorge says:

    How much faster is login? Is this a significant gain by itself or is it just one of the many little things we could fix that will make login faster overall?

    • Jeremy Bicha says:

      I didn’t mean to say that disabling the login sound makes the login faster but that because Ubuntu starts so fast, it’s not as necessary to have an audio notification when your computer is finally ready to use.

      • Have you checked with the accessibility team whether that’s actually the case? I assumed that the login sound would be useful for people who can’t see that well (or at all) and might rely on an audio notification that their log in attempt was successful.

  11. For me, this is something I tend to either automatically disable or shorten to a tiny 2-second, 3-second snippet.

    However, this doesn’t lay well with people who are blind or have low-vision and are users of Ubuntu. Do you think that that you could ensure this is enabled in the accessibility profiles?

    • Jeremy Bicha says:

      Perhaps Orca could be set to play a ready sound of its own when it loads? It seems a bit complicated to me to have the GNOME login sound disabled by default, except when Orca is enabled, but also have the checkbox to turn the sound on and off work.

      Also, the login sound wasn’t removed; it’s just turned off by default and can be turned back on.

      We made the change relatively early in the release cycle (and blogged about it) so there would be time to fix any problems that this change might cause.

  12. Martin Owens says:

    Got data to support the assumption that the sound is only for slow booting and that it’s always annoying?

    It’d be nice to keep some branding and have something a little bit more clever. Ethernet connection and plugged in or a desktop computer? then maybe a nice short sound to say “Ubuntu is awesome and here it is, ready to do your bidding”, otherwise we’ll have it off by default. Or perhaps allow the mute setting to be set in lightdm and let it be carried forwards or have a nice sound for the first two logins to welcome users to their new computer experience.

    But this is a quick thought about solving your issues without reaching for the easy butcher’s knife. Are we just stripping everything out because it’s too hard to to solve? I hope not.

  13. cbx33 says:

    I did sit down a while back to try to compose a new sound for start up – If anyone has any ideas/themes I should work towards, I could look at trying to create a new one for the 12.04 release :)

    Oh and just to add – I finished writing a book on Git recently at

    http://cbx33.github.com/gitt/

    and I am working on a new Sci-Fi/Fantasy novel

    http://alchemyreigns.wordpress.com

  14. jdevora says:

    I love the startup sound, but I agree that is could be a bit shorter and maybe have a dedicated volumen level

  15. Marco says:

    I always preferred the Ubuntu Studio login sound. I used it until 11.04, in 11.10 I installed the package but I haven’t figured out how to change the sound theme in Gnome 3.

  16. Mackenzie says:

    So um, what if you can’t see the screen to know that it’s ready to use? You probably can’t click either in that case, so your “how to revert” instructions are pretty darned incomplete.

  17. [...] With all of the changes in Ubuntu’s desktop over the past few months, it might seem remarkable that Ubuntu’s logon sound has been basically unchanged in 5 years. Read more here [...]

  18. Thorben says:

    Glad to hear – nothing – on login.
    Popularize Ubuntu sound gallery!

    http://people.ubuntu.com/~dylanmccall/soundgallery/

  19. [...] Ubuntu 12.04: Now With Quieter Logins December 20, 2011 · Posted in Debian Server  ShareTweet With all of the changes in Ubuntu’s desktop over the past few months, it might seem remarkable that Ubuntu’s logon sound has been basically unchanged in 5 years. Read more here [...]

  20. leftystrat says:

    Thanks so much for considering us no-nonsense guys who don’t feel the necessity for sound upon login (or at any time we’re not playing OGGs). Extra points for making it available for those who DO need it.

    My favorite XFCE setting is for Splash: NONE.

    Keep up the good work.

  21. Ambleston Dack says:

    I don’t mind the sound and don’t find it annoying what so ever. Its nice when you are on a train and you hear the Ubuntu Drums, you kinda think, oh, Ubuntu! It’s also a nice bit of branding, think of the Apple chime on their products.

    Also the point has been raised about people with limited on no sight, how will they know that they have logged in successfully? I say, leave the sound enabled by default, change it to something else, and for those who find it utterly annoying, then they can disable it, but then again its only my opinion.

    Will Kubuntu loose its default KDE login sound too?

  22. [...] Tweet Así leemos en jeremy.bicha.net que Ubuntu ya no contará más (por defecto) con el sonido de inicio, ese que suena cuando abrimos [...]

  23. Adam says:

    Finally, common sense has prevailed!

    My netbook makes a very loud beep whenever its power adapter is plugged in or unplugged. There’s no way to disable it–it’s built into the BIOS. It’s unbelievable. I have to be very mindful when I take my netbook to the library to only plug it in when it’s in standby mode, or I will be very annoyed and embarrassed, and other people will be disturbed.

    The same principle applies here. Computers should not needlessly make noise, especially when they may be used in public places. And doubly so since there’s no way to ensure that the volume of sounds is at an appropriate level across a range of hardware and environmental situations.

    I don’t know how many times I’ve been working on a friend’s Windows system, trying to fix something, and when I reboot it, it blows me away with the Windows login sound because they had last had the volume way up listening to some video, etc. Mind-bogglingly stupid, but hey, that’s Microsoft. Ubuntu can do better–and finally it has.

  24. Rakan Rabayah says:

    hey Jeremy, I agree with you completely on the Ubuntu startup sound. I started disliking it after 8.10 and thought they would change it by now. So I was talking to a couple of the guys here at Linux Bahrain and I decided to make my own system sounds with guitars. I’m still recording new sounds stuff like that. The project is going to be complete soon.

    It’s great to hear about the improvements and ideas you’ve been giving to the Ubuntu community.

  25. [...] otra novedad es que no tendremos tema de sonido al inicio de Ubuntu 12.04. Por mi parte no puedo estar mas satisfecho de esta decisión. El archivo de sonido usado, tras [...]

  26. 腕時計 says:

    時計 セイコー

  27. […] 12.04 zostanie usunięty domyślny dźwięk logowania do systemu. Wyłączenie zostanie dodane z łatką Jeremy Bicha, który po wielu testach stwierdził, że nie potrzebnie taka funkcjonalność wydłuża czas […]

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