I've got a lab for high school students, and I'd like to disable audio altogether on the lab computers.

Any suggestions? I've been looking at alsa force-unload, but that only kills processes that are currently using the sound card. When I reload the browser and hit YouTube, sound comes back.

Basically, I want to unload sound from the kernel ...but easier than that.

  • Don't if it would work but would think if you disable/delete or blacklisted the audio/sound drivers in kernel. Would need to be root to disable/enable. Easiest way would be to set sound to mute in settings, but anybody can do/undo that. I am not good enough to explain how. – crip659 Sep 24 '19 at 22:21
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    Maybe put blacklist snd in a file /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist-snd.conf? AFAIK all the snd modules depend on it (and it depends on soundcore -- see modinfo snd, so perhaps that's the one to blacklist) and I think it's responsible for loading up the sound cards, so in theory without it you shouldn't have any sound possible (unless someone has sudo on modprobe). {Argh, you beat me too it!} – pbhj Sep 24 '19 at 23:12
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    Cut the speaker wire :) KISS – EODCraft Staff Sep 25 '19 at 6:58
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    Is it possible to disable soundcards in UEFI? My PC allows that. – user3518753 Sep 26 '19 at 9:54
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    @EODCraftStaff or plug in a dummy headphone plug. – rackandboneman Sep 27 '19 at 9:15

All right, so blacklisting the sound related modules worked. Thanks to this post:


The details of the fix:

edit /etc/modprobe.d/snd-blacklist.conf and add these entries (from a Dell standalone pc with 18.04)

blacklist soundcore
blacklist snd
blacklist snd_pcm
blacklist snd_hda_codec_hdmi
blacklist snd_hda_codec_realtek
blacklist snd_hda_codec_generic
blacklist snd_hda_intel
blacklist snd_hda_codec
blacklist snd_hda_core
blacklist snd_hwdep
blacklist snd_timer

A hardware solution: insert a mini-jack connector in the sound output port, but only a connector, without any wire or speaker on it. This has worked for me since the 80's to silence the Mac's otherwise beautiful power-on ding.

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    As a more permanent (and gross solution), put hot glue in the jack. I don't know what OP's use-case is but if the problem is kids plugging their own things in (for whatever reason) then this answer won't be enough. – Captain Man Sep 25 '19 at 14:37
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    @CaptainMan Hot glue alone won't make the computer route audio to the jack. But you could glue in a jack. – Reinstate Monica Sep 25 '19 at 15:28
  • @Solomonoff's Secret good point. I wasn't thinking about built-in speakers. – Captain Man Sep 25 '19 at 15:46
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    I used to use this trick in the OP's situation (a lab of computers in a high school class). Of course, I was a student in the class, and was booting up a MacPlus so I could play Risk in drafting class. – Joe Sep 25 '19 at 16:25

A simple solution would be removing the alsa drivers, i.e.:

sudo apt-get remove --purge alsa
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    That could easily be reversed accidentally by some later installation command, right? – leftaroundabout Sep 26 '19 at 10:23
  • I guess everything can be reversed later. This is just a quick solution for OP's problem, not a "cripple my sound forever" kind of answer. – Pedro Lobito Sep 27 '19 at 5:02
  • Sure, but my point is this will quite likely be reversed inadvertently, namely when installing some package which happens to depend on alsa. – leftaroundabout Sep 27 '19 at 8:34

This seems to work. Edit the file /etc/pulse/client.conf

Change the line:

; autospawn = yes


autospawn = no


; daemon-binary = /usr/bin/pulseaudio


daemon-binary = /usr/bin/pulseaudio


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    Every user could override the settings in /etc/pulse/cliet.conf with his/her own settings in ~/.config/pulse/client.conf, please take a look at man pulse-client.conf. – mook765 Sep 24 '19 at 22:38
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    So after this change, audio is still playing -- there are just no audio controls any more so volume is 100% . Thanks for the suggestion though. I think alsa just took over when pulse went away. – ether_joe Sep 24 '19 at 22:55

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