beep - beep the PC loudspeaker on Linux
beep allows you to have the PC speaker issue beeps and beep patterns
with given frequencies, durations, and spacing.
What beep does
Parse the command line arguments
Find a suitable device file and API to use on it.
Set up signal handlers to silence the beeping in case beep is interrupted or killed before it has a chance to silence the PC speaker again.
Depending on the command line arguments, either
beep in the frequencies, sequencing and timing given on the command line until the sequence has finished.
when used in a pipe, beep for every character or line passing through the pipe until said pipe is finished.
What beep does not do
beepdoes not serialize or multiplex access to the one PC speaker hardware. The sound from a
beepprocess playing a very long note will be silenced as soon as another short
beepprocess starts its note, and after the short
beepfinishes, the PC speaker will remain silent for the remainder of the long note's duration.
beepdoes not work on platforms and systems without a PC speaker or compatible hardware.
How beep works internally
The evdev API
The evdev API uses
write(2) to write
data to the
file. The system administrator can set up normal file permissions on
the device file to allow beeping access for certain users and
PERMISSIONS.md for more details on permission
The console API
In order to be allowed to run the
ioctl(2) of the
classical console API, the Linux kernel insists you must either be
root or own the current TTY (e.g. non-root user logged in on
beep only uses this API as a fallback.
The documentation files shipped with the
beep source tree, sorted
NEWSbut not renamed for historical reasons, this file contains a list of the high level changes between
The licensing text.
Giving credit where credit is due.
Information for developers working on improving beep.
How to build and install
beepfrom source tree.
How to package
beepfor a Linux distribution.
How to set up the permissions to allow non-root users to run
beep. Covers installing from source tree, and distro package following and not following the beep suggested udev rule setup.
This basic overview on
beepincluding the history kept over from the old
The history of beep
In late 2018, while trying to come up with a fix for CVE-2018-1000532
for the Fedora package, Hans Ulrich Niedermann had to find find out
beep works, and found out that the API to use in this
day and age (the evdev API) was not even in available
configuration, or documented with the proper device name. So a few
bits in the code had to be changed, a lot of documentation had to be
changed, and eventually the changes had accumulated to so much that
the result could not really be called
beep-1.3 any more.
However, with the last repository activity in early 2013, Jonathan's github beep repository had been basically unmaintained for almost 6 years, so Hans Ulrich created https://github.com/spkr-beep/beep/ as a new home for beep. All contributors are welcome there, old and new.
This following part has been taken from the original
beep author Johnathan Nightingale where he tells how
I just got so tired of being limited to
printf("\a");when I wanted a terminal beep. This program isn't supposed to be anything stupendous, it's just supposed to get the job done. Its intended purpose in life is to live inside shell/perl scripts, and allow a little more granularity than you get with the default terminal bell. Maybe I'm the only one who thinks this is useful. :)
If for any reason you decide you need to, contact me:
And beep can generally be found at:
For installation instructions, see
INSTALL. For copying and (non-)warranty information, see
COPYING. For usage information, check the man page.
There is a github repository of this code at: git://github.com/johnath/beep.git
A surprising number of people have sent in requests, or even patches, to help beep play multiple, different sounds off a single invocation. I had always thought that if people wanted a more complex melody, they would just do something like:
$ cat << EOF > song.sh #!/bin/sh beep <first beep's options> beep <second beep's options> etc... EOF
Nevertheless, because of repeated and vociferous demand, version 1.2 (and presumably all later versions) include the -n/--new switch which allows you to use one command line to create multiple beeps. Check the man page for details. I have also had a couple people suggest that I encourage the development of such shell scripts/command lines, even collect the particularly melodious ones. Certainly if anyone feels like sending some to me, I will put them somewhere visible, or even include them as a sample. I think Dvorak's New World Symphony, 4th Movement, for example, would make a lovely shell script. I also wouldn't mind a rendition of BNL's If I had a million dollars. But by all means, be creative.
All files copyright (C) Johnathan Nightingale, 2002. All files distributed under the GNU general public license.