Last modified: Mon Mar 15 02:37:33 CET 2004 Index

The following text has been generated from the README file of this package.

softbeep 0.3 - Software Bell for Linux

Copyright 2002
Lennart Poettering <>

This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation; either version 2 of the License, or (at your option) any later version.

This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the GNU General Public License for more details.

You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License along with this program; if not, write to the Free Software Foundation, Inc., 675 Mass Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.

This Linux utility program may be used for redirecting beeps of the internal PC speaker to your sound card. It is implemented entirely in user space by using LD_PRELOAD. It catches four different types of beeps, which can be produced on a Linux system:

  1. BEL-characters (#7) written to your TTYs, which should normaly result in a beep executed by your terminal emulator
  2. Calls to gdk_bell() by GTK/Gnome based programs
  3. Calls to XBell() by Xlib based programs
  4. Calls to beep() by curses based programs

These together catch most of the beeps of most of the programs I use.

The reason for developing this tool is that the internal speaker of one of my computers is broken on some way. Unfortunately life is far less fun without those nifty beeps and bells played by your PC.


You need to tell the dynamic loader of Linux to preload the library for all processes. This is done by setting the LD_PRELOAD environment variable to the path of the library.

You may use the shell script "softbeep" shipped with the distribution for accomplishing this task. Just run "softbeep foo" for running program foo with redirected beeps. Call softbeep without parameters for getting a shell from which every program run will get redirected beeps.

Two environment variables SB_REMOVE_BEL and SB_RUN may be used for adjusting softbeep to your needs. When SB_REMOVE_BEL is set to "yes" every catched BEL character written to a TTY is dropped, otherwise it is passed to the next layer. SB_RUN specifies the program to run when a beep occurs. You may adjust these parameters to your needs in the top of the script softbeep. "sb-beep" (a short script playing a wavefile via esdplay, which is shipped with the EsounD distribution) is used for emitting a beep by default. You might want to adjust this script to your individual needs, e.g. for playing different wave files for different programs.


softbeep has not been tested intensively with multi threaded programs yet; may be it works seamlessly, maybe it does not.

Processes with access to several different TTYs at the same time may not be handled correctly. This is a minor bug, since there are only very few programs which make use of more than one TTY at once.

SUID/SGID programs like xterm do not work with softbeep. This is a limitation of LD_PRELOAD (due to security considerations) and not a bug in softbeep! Solution for xterm: For catching all the beeps of xterm you should preload the library to the shell running inside of the xterm, which is not SUID/SGID.

ssh is a SUIG/SGID program on several installations. I currently do not know a way how to work around this.


Development was done under Debian GNU Linux Sid for i386 from March 2002.


This program is compatible with GNU libc 2.2.5 under Linux. It should not be too difficult to port it to other systems, but it is incompatible as is.


Run "make" for compiling the program. You might want to install it permanently on your system by issuing "make install" as root. This installs softbeep to /usr/local/. (Edit the Makefile for another prefix) For removing this installation you might want to try "make deinstall" as root.

The compilation needs installed X11 headers, alltough the library will not be linked against Xlib. Something similar is true for curses. Gtk/Gdk headers are not needed.


You may find up to date releases of this utility on

You may download this release from

Thanks go to

Manish Singh <> for writing esddsp on which my code is based.

Lennart Poettering <>, 2002

 © 2000-2004 by Lennart Poettering mzfbsgorrc (at) 0pointer (at) de

$Id: index.latte 123 2004-03-15 01:37:30Z lennart $