Noise Reduction

Due to the proliferation of cellular phones and walkmans it's not quite common in our days to take care of a quiet environment. Anyway I want to give some recommendations for the polite ones.

Computer noises are caused by hardware (fan, optical drive, hard disk) and applications.

Console (Shell) and X11

The beeping of X11 windows can be configured to a shorter and lower pitched tone or even to a blunt "thump" with xset b ... options (a lower pitched tone is usually less annoying and distracting). Independently of that, most xterm-compatible windows and shells can be configured to make "visual bell" instead of "audio bell". For the console setterm -blength 0 and for X11 xset b off turns the bell off. See also the PCMCIA-HOWTO and much more details in the Visible-Bell-Howto.

PCMCIA

When starting your laptop with PCMCIA-CS configured correctly, this will be shown by two high beeps. If you want to avoid this put CARDMGR_OPTS="-q" into the PCMCIA configuration file, e.g. /etc/default/pcmcia for Debian/GNU Linux.

To avoid the dialtones during the modem dialing add

module "serial_cs" opts "do_sound=0"

to /etc/pcmcia/config.opts (from man serial_cs). This will disable speaker output completely, but the AT M command should let you selectively control when the speaker is active, e.g. AT M0 turns off the modem's speaker.

USB

usbmgr configuration file /etc/usbmgr.conf.

### BEEP
# beep off
# beep on

Hotplug

Add an entry into the configuration file /etc/sysconfig/hotplug.

HOTPLUG_BEEP="no"

Fan

Warning

Please make sure what you are doing, when configuring the fan. Your laptop may overheat and die, in case you have done something wrong. Just in case you want to check the fan try to cause a heavy CPU load, for example by issueing md5sum /dev/urandom. Now top will show an increased CPU load and the fan should began to run eventually. Note: usually you need to have been connected to power, otherwise the CPU might reduce load by itself. Also watch for the CPU temperature acpi -bt or cat /proc/acpi/thermal_zone/*.

For some laptop series there are Linux utilities available to control the fan and other features.

  • Toshutils by Jonathan Buzzard for some Toshiba models.

  • tpctl IBM ThinkPad configuration tools for Linux by Thomas Hood.

  • i8k utils for DELL laptops.

Known Problems

With some laptops the fan is always on or at least very often. Here are some remedies.

Reduction of CPU Frequency

In some cases the fan is always on because the CPU is working with highest frequency. You may use either cpufreqd or cpudyn to cure this.

IRQ Problems with ParPort Module

Sometimes the parport causes the fan to be always on. You may edit the /etc/modules.conf to cure this:

 alias parport_lowlevel parport_pc
 options parport_pc io=378 irq=7

The IO address and the IRQ number depend on the hardware settings or the BIOS configuration. Often the IRQ does not need to be given. The problem and its solution was discussed in the SuSE Laptop Mailing List (in German).

ACPI

Sometimes a setting in the /proc/acpi/ might also help.

Miscellaneous

Pressing the Fn+z key kombination tells the BIOS to recheck the sensors and stops the fan, for DELL laptops.

Harddisk

To avoid unnecessary hard disk noise you may use the same techniques as described in the power saving chapter above. Modern laptop and notebook hard drives come with a so-called "Acoustic Management", just have a look into the manual to get an overview about the possible settings.

Some hard disk manufacturers offer dedicated tools, e.g. Hitachi's Feature Tool allows to change the drive Automatic Acoustic Management settings to the Lowest acoustic emanation setting (Quiet Seek Mode), or Maximum performance level (Normal Seek Mode). Also hdparm -M offers some Acoustic Management options.

Miscellaneous Applications

You may configure vi with the flash option, so it will use a flash in case of an error, instead of a bell. So just put this line into your .vimrc or at the vim prompt:

set flash

or try

set visualbell