Got bored running virus scans on yet another Windows machine and came
across this discussion: http://tinyurl.com/2vumra

The suggestion about adding:

# start esound daemon *before* gnome-session
exec /usr/bin/esd -nobeeps &

in the /etc/gnome/gnomerc actually seems to have worked. At least for
now. We'll see.

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Registered Linux User #267152