There is an option in the Sound Preferences dialog, Sound Effects tab, to toggle Alert volume 'mute'. It works and suffices for my needs to disable the irritating system beep/bell.
However, I reinstall systems a LOT for testing purposes and would like to set this setting in a shell script so it's off without having to fiddle with a GUI. But for the life of me I can't seem to find where this can be toggled via a command line tool.
I've scanned through gconf-editor, pulseaudio's pacmd, grepped through /etc, even dug through the gnome-volume-control source code, but I am not seeing how this can be set.
I gather that gnome-volume-control has changed since a few releases ago.