Login screen volume always set to maximum (too loud)

Bug #378325 reported by Stephen Warren on 2009-05-19
This bug affects 28 people
Affects Status Importance Assigned to Milestone
pulseaudio (Ubuntu)

Bug Description

Binary package hint: gdm

Whenever I boot my laptop from scratch (i.e. not resuming from standy/hibernate), the X/gdm login screen will play a sound effect when it's ready for me to log in.

The problem is, this sound effect is always played at the hardware's maximum volume setting (or at least, something insanely loud) which is extremely annoying for other people nearby (and me!)

gdm/something should set the volume to some sane level prior to playing this sound. Even better if "gdmsetup" were to allow configuration of the volume.

Note, I'm aware of some WARs:
* Disable the login sound. Not acceptable: Simply disabling the feature because it's buggy doesn't actually fix the underlying bug.
* Plug in headphones, or a dummy jack. Not acceptable: I don't use headphones and hence don't carry them around. I don't want some dummy jack plugged into the side of my laptop, thus changing the laptop's shape (and, I'd have to unplug it after login to use sound)
* Various script hacks with "alsactl save/restore". Not acceptable: This feature should "just work" out of the box without my Grandma having to hack at arcane scripts or config files.

Note: This issue is visible in Jaunty Jackalope i386 (and presumably all arch's) on either the live CD or an HD-based installation. Note that to fix this on the live CD, a gdmsetup-based volume configuration option wouldn't be useful, because a) it wouldn't solve the issue for the first boot, and b) there's nowhere to store the configuration across reboots (or if there is, it's sufficiently complex that my Grandma couldn't use it)

Stephen Warren (srwarren) wrote :

Hmm. Further experimentation shows that the gdm pre-login sound is played back with whatever volume was set when the user last logged out (or rebooted). I guess the 100% volume issues are in the case of:

a) Live CD default

b) Default on an HDD based install prior to anyone logging in and changing the volume.

I do still think that:

a) The default volume shouldn't be set to 100% on the live CD or a fresh install.

b) The login screen volume shouldn't be tied to the user's most recently used volume; what if they turned it up to listen to something quiet? It should be separately configurable, or limited, or similar.

Sebastien Bacher (seb128) wrote :

the volume is an alsa thing

affects: gdm (Ubuntu) → alsa-lib (Ubuntu)
phenest (steve-clark) on 2009-08-04
Changed in alsa-lib (Ubuntu):
status: New → Confirmed
phenest (steve-clark) wrote :

Despite it being an 'alsa thing', it can be amended by the Ubuntu devs. The alsa file in question is /etc/init.d/alsa-utils. Line 143 has the function 'sanify_levels_on_card' where it can be clearly seen the levels are at 80%. I have demonstrated to myself, with a custom Live CD, that reducing these levels (master or pcm) does reduce the volume.
Either that, or the devs could simply disable the sound effects.

Wayne Cat (exchange) wrote :

I have to agree. This is way to loud. I have tested it on my Macbook Pro (lousy speakers) and
it sounds like an earthquake. Maybe 20% - 30% would be enough to recognize that sound works.

kbunty (kbunty) wrote :

This is so simple to fix, why has it not been done?

#3 clearly identifies what needs to be done.

What if someone has headphones on when they start up anticipating listening to some music maybe? This could actually cause permanent hearing damage !! Are you waiting to get sued?

How about setting the importance level to critical and getting this fixed and an update out now?

#405516 has just been declared a dupe but brings up some other arguments as to why these chirps rattles and squeaks would be best set off unless the user opts to activate them.

there are many ways to check sound if the sound needs checking. It does not need checking every time I start the damned machine.


Conn O Griofa (psyke83) wrote :

Also affects me.

I just want to add: on my laptop (Inspiron 510m), the login sound is so loud that the speakers rattle. Since the ALSA drivers aren't capable of applying EQ settings (which are present in Windows drivers for virtually all laptops), this is pushing the speakers beyond their recommended limit, and to my ears it sounds quite capable of physically damaging the speakers.

Very annoying. Remember that most laptops do not have analog volume controls, so there is no way to physically reduce the volume (and the login sound plays before the volume hotkeys become responsive).

kbunty (kbunty) wrote :

Actually this is not an "alsa thing". Alsa is perfoming to spec .

Primarily it is a gdm thing. It is gdm that is sending audio data to alsa and doing so before the volume has been set. That is the bug.

On a live CD it will *always* be too loud and means, even with a lower volume more suitable for "most" hardware, it remains impossible to start the system silently. That should always be possible.

Playing these silly noises just because you can is so futile I see no argument, turn it off.

And while we have the box open, please can that welcome jingle as well. When M$ started this particular bandwagon, playing a sound was something new and it was showing off the capability. Now this no longer impresses anyone and is more of an annoyance that anything else.

By all means leave a default jingle so that the user can turn this sort of feature on if he likes that sort of thing. But off by default , please.

Daniel T Chen (crimsun) wrote :

PA is setting the volumes to max as documented at PulseAudioStoleMyVolumes. The correct way to work around this subjective symptom of "too loud" is either to configure module-alsa-sink to control only one mixer element (see the control parameter), or squash what's reported for 0 dB in the driver.

affects: alsa-lib (Ubuntu) → pulseaudio (Ubuntu)
Changed in pulseaudio (Ubuntu):
importance: Undecided → Wishlist
Luke Yelavich (themuso) wrote :

Now that gdm has been refactored to use gnome-session, it operates as its own session, thereby storing its own pulseaudio volume settings etc. What ultimately needs to happen is for the user to be able to set the volume setting for the login sound, or turn it off completely.

kbunty (kbunty) wrote :

>> What ultimately needs to happen is for the user to be able to set the volume setting for the login sound, or turn it off completely.

In terms of functionality you are right but the starting point is wrong.

What ultimately needs to happen is for the user to be able to set the volume setting for the login sound and turn it ON IF THEY WANT IT.

This is of critical importance to bug#405516

In the case of installation or live CDs there is NO WAY of knowing what audio hardware is connected nor what volume is set. The only sensible default is OFF.

If the user really wants his three drum beats or other silly noises every time his computer starts it could an option to turn it on and set an suitable level.

Please get this off by default.

Set this off please. +1

Daniel van Vugt (vanvugt) wrote :

Thank you for reporting this bug to Ubuntu.
Ubuntu 9.04 (jaunty) reached end-of-life on October 23, 2010.

See this document for currently supported Ubuntu releases:

Please upgrade to the latest version and re-test.

Changed in pulseaudio (Ubuntu):
status: Confirmed → Incomplete
kbunty (kbunty) wrote :

"Thank you for reporting this bug to Ubuntu."

"Please upgrade to the latest version and re-test."

How about you test it? It's simply a case of booting a live CD.

The lack of attention to major problem, which cause someone hearing damage if you were unlucky enough to boot whilst wearing earplugs, is lamentable.

Assigning this "wishlist" status ensured that it never got attended to despite commenters having identified the problem and provided a very simple fix.


Daniel van Vugt (vanvugt) wrote :

Peace. Anyone who cares about a bug can update it and stop it from expiring.

Unfortunately the Ubuntu and Pulse bug backlogs are so massive that we can't dive into every bug in detail. Automated rules for letting untouched bugs expire need to be used.

In more than 99% of cases old bugs like this are abandoned and nobody answers them. So I thank you for caring about the quality of Ubuntu.

Changed in pulseaudio (Ubuntu):
status: Incomplete → Confirmed
kbunty (kbunty) wrote :

So this bug proved that even in the 1% where people do contribute and provide a fast easy to implement solution, it still dies of old age rather than getting attended to : mainly because something which could cause physical harm gets classed as "wishlist" importance.

Daniel van Vugt (vanvugt) wrote :

It's much less than 1% and also incorrect to say "dies of old age" because the counter resets every time a comment is added, and now won't timeout at all since it is confirmed again.

I agree with your concern about the Wishlist status. That was set on 2010-02-01 and is not related to the current clean-up but I'll certainly fix it up right now.

Changed in pulseaudio (Ubuntu):
importance: Wishlist → High
kbunty (kbunty) wrote :

Thanks, belated but thanks.

Daniel van Vugt (vanvugt) wrote :

kbunty, I see you have a long history of commenting on audio bugs. May I suggest you get yourself membership to:

So that you may update bugs as you see fit.

summary: - X login screen volume always set to max; crazy loud
+ Login screen volume always set to maximum (too loud)
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