audible status indicators

Janina Sajka janina at
Wed Nov 26 16:44:05 UTC 2014

Hi, Peter:

I rely heavily on a few aplays in my boot process, one in
/etc/rc.d/rc.local, and another in my $HOME/.bash_profile.

As I've been doing this for years, let me offer a few observations in
hopes they'll be useful:

*	I wish I could get GDM to emit a sound when its logon dialog
*	appears, but I haven't figured out how to pull that off.

*	The above aplays work very well, but not under pulse audio.
*	Supplanting the aplay command with paplay doesn't help. I
*	believe there's a design decision involved whereby pulseaudio
*	denies sound access to anyone but the logged in console user.
*	Very annoying. I haven't found a workaround.

*	Having noted the problem with paplay, I have no problem
*	terminating pulse with extreme prejudice and simply relying on
*	alsa. I even have GNOME's earcons working.

*	Having the aplay in $HOME/.bash_profile lets me know when I've
*	successfully logged in via gdm. So, if there's some GNOME
*	desktop or Orca related issue, I can at least have assurance
*	that it wasn't a gdm login issue.

*	I default to console login on boot only because it's easier to
*	grapple with any problems that might arise at the system level
*	using Speakup. Today, of course, one accomplishes that with
*	systemde. I then start the graphical environment with a
*	"systemctl start gdm" as root.

*	I also re-enable system speaker beeps, which Fedora has so
*	blithely turned off by default. You find these blacklisted in
*	/etc/modprobe.d/blacklist.conf.

*	I do yet one more tweak to get audio feedback during boot. I add
*	a Ctrl-G to /etc/issue. That way, should my alsa be failing for
*	some reason, I get a system speaker beep at the console login
*	screen.

Lastly, I now have several key tweaks in my /etc/rc.d/rc.local that may
be valuable. Here they are, interspersed with a few comments.

#Janina's Modifications
/bin/loadkeys /etc/sysconfig/keymaps.alt

I've created the keymaps.alt file using dumpkeys to get around arecent
change in the default keymap file which no longer discriminates between
left and right alt, i.e. between Alt and AltGr. I need that
discrimination in the console, hence the above tweak.

modprobe snd-pcsp

Clearly, this launches the system speaker beep.

mount -a
Because some of of my fstab mounts weren't mounting for some reason I
didn't want to chase down.

modprobe speakup_soft
aplay -q /boot/boot.wav &
if [ -d /sys/accessibility/speakup ]; then
chown janina /sys/accessibility/speakup/soft/pitch && /usr/local/bin/tsp
The above is my current way to start Speakup. It provides speech during
console login.



Peter Rayner writes:
> I've just started using a machine without a hard disk. It's suddenly
> much more difficult to work out what state it's in when resuming after
> suspend, rebooting etc. I would like to add a few auditory indicators
> for key and common steps (like these). The boot-up earcon wouldn't b
> necessary *if* I could get gdm to come up talking but that isn't
> working under my fedora 20 system.
> It's also important that whatever I do doesn't finish up with someone
> else (probably root) owning the sound hardware and locking out the
> pulseaudio instance I will soon start up.
> Adding an rc.local file to /etc/rc.d with an aplay something-or-other
> should work for boot.
> The resume-after-suspend is harder I think. I need to ensure, for
> example, that pulseaudio is in a good state for playing sound. I
> presume this is managed by acpi event handling?
> Has anyone else tried this?
> thanks in advance
> Peter
> -- 
> Peter Rayner
> room 343 
> School of Earth Sciences, University of Melbourne, 3010, Vic, Australia
> tel: work: +61 (0)3 8344 9708; fax: +61 (0)3 8344 7761 
> mobile +61 402 752 379, skype: petermorag 
> mail-to: prayner at
> google scholar profile <>
> _______________________________________________
> Blinux-list mailing list
> Blinux-list at


Janina Sajka,	Phone:	+1.443.300.2200
			sip:janina at
		Email:	janina at

Linux Foundation Fellow
Executive Chair, Accessibility Workgroup:

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI)
Chair,	Protocols & Formats
	Indie UI

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