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The Bango Project

Original forum post [1]

Also this can be found on the ubuntu wiki here [2]

I was changing the sounds on my computer today, and realized what a drag is was. I m often not at my computer 100% of the time, even though it is on, and so i need alerts to tell me when i have a new email or IM message, or for other reasons.

Anyway, I got thinking about why there is no gnome sound theme available, you can change the individual files for notifications etc in preferences > sounds, but this isn't great, I really don't want to go through and select each file. What i really want is to download a theme of or something similar, and just drag it onto the theme manager, and let it install all the files for me.

The big trouble with this right now is there is no specification that I know of for desktop sounds. I may be wrong here.

Then I got thinking a little more, about the tango project. This has been great, it not only creating a detailed specification allowing applications to share common icons, i want the same play button on all my media applications!, but it also provides guidance on the design of icons, how to use shadows or colours for instance.

So what had this got to do with sounds files? Well I had a thought that it would be really cool if a similar effort sound be set up for sounds on computers. For computer newbies, sounds can be a great way to provide feedback on their actions, making the gulf between a real world action action and its results on screen seem smaller from a user perspective.

So I am proposing the bango project, why bango? well, sounds like tango for one thing, and bango - kinda like making a noise with the bang part. Mind you, i am open to suggestions for the name

What would this project do? Well for one thing provide useful guidance on how to match events on the screen to sounds. How should someone create a sound event for an email arriving, or for when an application crashes, or when a user logs in.

The project should also be responsible for carrying our usability testing on a range of users. Making sure these sounds themes enhance the users computing experience.

Most importantly however, the group should work with to produce a specification for sounds themes, similar to the tango project. This will allow the project to span multiple desktop environments like tango. If a developer wanted a sound for a particular event for their app, say the email arriving again, just use the notification-email.flac file.

The group should also be responsible for promoting the use of open codecs for the sounds files, ogg or flac for example.

So why all the bother? Well because I feel it would make the life of people migrating to open source software like Linux that little bit easier. Having common consequences for actions can allow the user to bridge semantically similar actions, which may be syntactically different.

Anyway, this is really just me putting this idea out there, maybe there's similar projects right now, i dunno, but i guess let the community decide if this is important enough to be considered.

Naming Specification

This is a first draft of the sound naming spec for bango. There are lots of similarites between tango, this is deliberate.

Ok, so i have identified three broad categories i think the sounds should fall under:


This is to notify the user of an action or event which may have a major imact on the system or their current use case

network-error The sound used when an error occurs trying to intialize the network connection of the computing device.
dialog-error The sound used when a dialog is opened to explain an error condition to the user.
battery-low The sound used when the battery is below 20%.
software-update-urgent The sound used when an urgent update is available through the system software update program.


This is to alert the user that the system, or their current use case has changed state in some way - mew email arriving, new non-critical update to an application available

search-results The sound used when one or more search results are returned
search-results-empty the sound used when no search results are returned
system-lock-screen The sound used when the user locks their current session
system-log-out The sound used when a user logs into the system or a service (i.e. desktop login)
system-log-in The sound used when a user logs out of the system or a service (i.e. Gaim logout)
battery-caution The sound used when the battery is below 40%.
dialog-information The sound used when a dialog is opened to give information to the user that may be pertinent to the requested action.
software-update-available The sound used when an update is available for software installed on the computing device, through the system software update program.


This is to give the user feedback on their actions. These are not used to alter the use of errors, but rather reassure the user that their action was successful, sound on window opening / closing for example

message-new The sound used when a new IM or email is recieved
message-sent The sound used when a new IM or email is sent
window-new The sound used when a new window or dialog is opened
window-close The sound used when an existing window is closed
dialog-ok The sound used for the “OK” button that might appear in dialog windows
dialog-cancel The sound used for the “Cancel” button that might appear in dialog windows.
drag-accept The sound used when a file is accepted by a window, such as a folder or IM conversation
trash-empty The sound used when the user emptys the trash
file-sendto-trash The sound used when a file or folder is sent to the trash

Idea Pool

By having the categories above, the user could now select whether they want all sounds, only alert sounds so they only get notified on critical events