On Windows, the Sounds & Multimedia control panel allows the connection of sound snippets to various operating system events, like window movements, process start/stop, and start-up/shutdown.

I am using GNOME on Fedora 13, and I have not had any luck discovering any similar functionality. Does such a function exist? If so, is it cross-window-manager-compatible or tied to a specific window manager (GNOME, KDE, etc.) or distribution?

3 Answers 3


The sound naming specification is fairly complete at this point. However, the default GNOME and freedesktop sound theme are not complete (and for some good reasons). Also, many applications are not making using of sound events, although they could.

On GNOME, libcanberra is commonly used to play sound events.

By adding custom file in $XDG_DATA_DIRS/sounds, you can customize your sound set.

My theme is "ubuntu", I can add a file: in $HOME/.local/share/sounds/ubuntu/stereo/battery-low.oga

and test it with ex: canberra-gtk-play -i battery-low

Read the specs and the gnome theme package for further informations. More themes are welcome! We have been looking for help in the past, and ubuntu as well today.


As Miguel de Icaza said in an earlier post: "This functionality is desktop and window manager specific."

In KDE desktop environment you can integrate sounds with desktop events, by going to

Configure Desktop->Application and System Notifications.

  • As mentioned by elmarco there is some work going on to change that
    – Spudd86
    Commented Aug 24, 2010 at 20:30

This functionality is desktop and window manager specific.

In particular in Gnome, the desktop is implemented independently of your window manager. Those events that are triggered by Gnome are controlled by the gnome-volume-control program:

alt text
(source: tirania.org)

If you changed your default window manager configuration, it will depend on the window manager that you have selected.

  • Hm. So, based on this information and the answer by Alex below, does that really mean there's such a significant variation in sound event management across window managers? Commented Aug 19, 2010 at 0:43
  • First of all, there is a difference between a Window Manager and a Desktop Enviroment (Wikipedia has some nice articles about both). And yes there's such a significant variation between WMs and DEs, because they might use different sound frameworks or sound system architectures, and they have different GUIs (ways) to handle Events, Sounds, etc. Example Fluxbox Event Management: is.gd/eoy7R For a glimpse in the Linux Audio topic, read tuxradar.com/content/how-it-works-linux-audio-explained and see this graph linuxgeek.ro/img/linuxaudio.png
    – Alex Bitek
    Commented Aug 19, 2010 at 10:44
  • @Alex GStreamer and Phonon don't really belong in that list... that's like comparing DirectShow to DirectSound, they aren't audio APIs in the way that ALSA/libpulse/libjack/OSS/etc are, it's a media playback framework with codecs and things, also IIRC pulseaudio can do firewire audio output... and bluetooth, and whatever else. That article isn't terribly accurate. For a better explanation see 0pointer.de/blog/projects/guide-to-sound-apis.html
    – Spudd86
    Commented Aug 24, 2010 at 20:38
  • @spudd86 Agreed. The article I provided it's not that accurate. Thanks for providing another link.
    – Alex Bitek
    Commented Aug 26, 2010 at 16:35

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