mcc's mention of catting your hard drive to /dev/audio has made me notice a peculiar thing; different filesystems sound noticeably different. Specifically:

  • ext2 sounds like a deep, mostly monotonous buzzing
  • reiserfs sounds like static (or modem noises) overlaid with a startlingly regular repeating tone
  • FAT32 sounds like a high-frequency triangle wave (much more jarring than ext2 or reiserfs)
  • NTFS sounds almost like machine-gun fire, or a badly skipping audio CD
  • BeFS sounds like radio static with arhythmic beeps.
Don't we all love Unix :-)

This of course is just a general sound, omitting the opening part of the partition where any filesystem sounds somewhat like /dev/urandom. There are also interruptions and transients following the (considered random) pattern of data in the partition.

These measurements were made under Linux 2.4, with the ALSA sound drivers version 0.9.0beta6, and a SoundBlaster Live! sound card.