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Goal: Create free sound themes for fedora, using only FOSS software available from the Fedora repositories.

About the SIG

The Need for Sound:

When we hear our doorbell ring, we instantly decide on steps to take to answer it. Some may make a quick fix of their disorganized spaces to impress the guest, while that may serve as a wake-up alert for others distracted by a snooze. Some may opt to ignore it altogether. The fact is, sound helps us make decisions.

The Status:

Between February 12, and July 25, 2008, Marc-Andre Lureau and Lennart Poettering created the Sound Naming Specification. It was developed for and has been the basis for Sound themes in most Linux Distributions today. For many years, Fedora has shipped with One Sound Theme using this specification namely: freedesktop. Additional sound files are also provided outside the theme to provide Alert sounds namely: Dark, Drip, Glass, and Sonar. The Theme and Alert Sounds are outdated, boring and need overhauling to match the present standards/quality of fedora.

The Way Forward:

  1. Meet at #fedora-sound IRC channel at and discuss issues concerning sound theme development.
    Presently, our meetings are casual. Our IRC channel is the perfect place to make suggestions, critique submissions and get live guidance. Potential Contributors are welcome to join at any convenient time.
  2. Nominate, and choose Sound theme Names.
    This should act as a guide for creating samples. For example, If a theme is titled 'Air', those creating event sounds for it will be better inspired on what tones to use and possibly create new tones where a suitable one doesn't exist. The naming will also serve as a guide to grouping existing samples into related themes. Hence, some samples in a theme called 'Nature' may be used in some events in the theme called 'Air'. After all, air is part of nature. This is going to be fun.
  3. Collaborate with Musicians and the guys at #fedora-audio (see also
    Those who are prolific with Open-source Music and Sound/Studio software are highly welcome. It will be more honored for the Fedora and Linux community if our objectives are executed with free software only (no propriety tools and plug-ins please). The file entries will be either in .ogg or .flac format.
  4. Test the entries, choose best ones, assemble theme and package it for Fedora.
    We already have excited hands waiting to do this. You can join them too.


Mailing list

We share a mailing list with the audio creation SIG.

How To

So, you installed one of our themes, but sadly we don't have a GUI for changing the sound theme yet.

In Fedora>15, use dconf-editor, change org->desktop->gnome->sound->theme_name to the theme name, for example beethoven-fifth.

In Fedora<=14, use gconf editor, change desktop->gnome->sound->theme_name to the theme name, for example beethoven-fifth.


Consider a vocalized version of a File:Fedora-jazz-theme.ogg (File:Fedora-jazz-theme-vocal-mock.flac). That could be expanded into a background music for fedora conferences/workshops and also form basis for computer event sounds e.g. File:Fedora-login-sample.ogg (File:Fedora-login-vocal-mock.flac). Themes can be based on Genre, or timbre for example, woodwind theme with more emphasis on one instrument in that family e.g. File:Fedora-login-sax-mock.ogg (File:Login.flac)

Current (specific) Theme Ideas

Theme Title Genre Contributor Comment Status Review Request In experimental repository
Beethoven's fifth symphony Classical Elad In stable repositories for Fedora 14 and 15 Ready Review request Yes
Vocal Jazz / accapella twohot Still Experimental Yes
* None * Jazz / instrumental Liel ?
Synthtronic Synth / Chiptune Zylogz80 Finished Sounds, Source Files WIP No, needs changes in the tarball
Acoustic Instrumental anujmore WIP No
Tribal/Vocal Forest imitation dtimms Use singing excerpts from a native Papua New Guinean tribes' singing idea, heard on TV documentary, license? No

Experimental Repository

We have experimental repository for testing sound themes.

  • TODO Make it available for f13 and f14 users as well.


  • All sound samples must be free - not propriety (see Content Licenses for more details)
  • Sample should not contain Speech of any kind
  • There should not be Noticeable background noise
  • Event sounds should be shorter than 1 second
  • Login and shutdown/logout sounds should be between 5 to 7 seconds.
  • Themes must be created only with free and open source software available from the Fedora repositories. When submitting a theme, it is important to list all software used for making the theme.


  • Documentation (i.e the score in either PDF or lilypond format)
  • Source Files preserving final tweaks and allowing for further improvement (e.g. Audacity .AUP files)
  • Original recording in lossless format (flac)

List of important sounds

This is a list of important sounds. Those are the sounds that you hear most frequently:

  • system-ready, plays when display manager starts
  • desktop-login, plays when the User logs in
  • message-new-instant, plays when a new instant message arrives
  • message-new-email, plays when a new email arrives
  • complete, plays when a task is finished e.g. burning CD
  • power-plug, plays when the power cord is plugged in (for laptops)
  • power-unplug, plays when the power cord is unplugged (for laptops)
  • dialog-error, plays when there is an error message
  • battery-low, plays when the power battery is low (for laptops)
  • bell, General Alert Sound

Not every theme has to contain all those sounds though, we can simply inherit the missing sounds from the freedesktop theme.

Todo :
Find a way to change the sound theme GDM uses easily, so it could really use that sound from the theme (and not from the freedesktop theme).


Read the specs.