Is there no way to set sound to default to mute in Gnome-Classic?

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http://askubuntu.com – On my laptop I run Ubuntu 11.10 with Gnome Classic. Whenever I log in, the volume is set to around 50%. I often use my laptop at cafes and portable hotspots where I don't want to disturb others with any sounds. When I set the volume to zero using the applet in the Gnome Panel, it does not remember the setting. At next startup, the volume is back to 50%. There is no "mute" checkbox, and there doesn't seem to be anywhere to set the default behaviour to be mute. Is there a way to force the sound to be off by default? (HowTos)