Arrière / Back Ships-Bells

A Linux program to strike the bells every half-hour

Ships-Bells is a program that, once installed on a computer running Linux, will strike the bell at each turn of the glass, during the watches of the day and night.


This program depends on cron, and on utilities which are part of the alsa-utils package; if this package is not installed on your system, you will first need to install it from your usual repository.

As user, download the latest version of the shipbells archive, and extract it; this will create a
shipbellstmp temporary directory from which you will run the setup script; so open a console, move to the shipbellstmp directory just created in your download directory, and launch the installation with the command sh

This in turn will create the ~/Music/shipbells directory, copy there the relevant files, and add the necessary lines to the user's crontab.

During the installation, you will be asked whether you want the bells struck in the US Navy style or the Royal Navy style, and at what level to set the sound volume.
  Those settings can be changed later by running again sh in a console from the ~/Music/shipbells directory.

Once the installation is finished,
the shipbellstmp temporary directory will be removed;  the Ship-Bells .tar.gz archive will no longer be needed, and can safely be removed.

Warning: Ship-Bells will not
install as root, it needs to be installed and run as user to avoid complications.


As user, run sh in a console, from the ~/Music/shipbells directory, and answer Y when asked if you want to remove Ship-Bells.
After which you can safely remove
the ~/Music/shipbells directory.


- You may get an error message similar to: "pulseaudio[4645]: [pulseaudio] server-lookup.c: Unable to contact D-Bus: "
Some systems have problems with the aplay program from Alsa-utils; in this case, a possible work-around is to install Sox ("the Swiss-knife of sound manipulation") and edit the strikebells file in
~/Music/shipbells , replacing "aplay" with "play" on line 11.

- Android users should be aware of the fact that Ships-Bells relies on cron and crontab to strike bells at given times; by default Android does not run the crond demon; for information on how to activate cron, see here. (I would appreciate any info on whether Ship-Bells actually runs on Android, as I have no such machine to test under that OS).
Until then you may find or of interest.


None for now.


You can download here any of the cersions of Ships-Bells
Original release


Restores the sound-volume setting after striking bells
Gives a warning if installing under Android (no cron)
Removes temporary directory once the initial setup is finished.


If you have any queries, questions, problems, ideas for improvement, or want to send a huge donation,
I can be reached at

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Copyright © Renaud Olgiati 2013
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under the CGPL Version 3 License.

Dernière mise à jour / Last update : 2013/11/11
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