Beat those bongos

Recently, I installed Ubuntu 10.04 LTS on a new computer. Everything went just fine – except that the guy playing the bongos (when the machine first booted) was just way too loud. Ear-splittingly loud!

However, once the machine had booted, other sounds were played at normal volume, and were subject to the regular volume controls. So, how does one control that guy on the bongos?

I couldn’t find an option to reduce the volume for this item but, Jamezo97, in an Ubuntu Forums reply, came up with a very clever solution – reduce the output of the relevant audio file. While the basic instructions did indeed save the day, I found that I had to tweak the methodology just a little.

Firstly, there seems to be an issue with the actual sound file that is giving the problem. The files are located at /usr/share/sounds/ubuntu/stereo, and the original post suggested that the file desktop-login.ogg should be modified. However, on my system, this is the “sound-wave” file that plays when a user logs in; the “bongos” file that I needed to modify to fix my specific problem was actually system-ready.ogg.

Also, it appears that the usr folder is write-protected for regular users so, in order to preserve the original file, I ran “sudo nautilus” in Terminal, navigated to /usr/share/sounds/ubuntu/stereo and renamed system-ready.ogg to system-ready-original.ogg.

Next, I installed Audacity from the Ubuntu Software Center and, since Audacity will need to save the modified file back to the usr folder, I gave the program root permission by running it using “sudo audacity” in Terminal.

Now, yet another (temporary) glitch. A dialogue box indicates that “Audacity could not find a place to store temporary files. Please enter an appropriate directory in the preference dialog”. I chose to use the Music folder in my home directory, and Audacity chose to use the hidden sub-folder .audacity_temp. But, we’re still not out of the woods – Audacity insists on shutting down and restarting before it will access the temporary storage.

Once Audacity is running, navigate to File – Open – usr/share/sounds/ubuntu/stereo/system-ready-original.ogg. The wave form of the sound file will be displayed in the program window.

From the menu bar, select Effect – Amplify. Pressing the Preview button will play the sound file. Move the slider bar to the left to reduce the output volume. In my case I changed the value from 3.0 dB to -20.2 dB to reduce the volume to something reasonable.

Now, after pressing the OK button to apply the volume change, the final step is to select the menu items File – Export and save the modified file as usr/share/sounds/ubuntu/stereo/system-ready.ogg.

The modified file, with the reduced output volume, effectively replaces the original sound file. So, now, when the guy beats on those bongos, the effect isn’t quite so earth shattering!

References:

Too loud when starting up
http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1663571

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