MPD – Music Player Daemon

Written by BinnyVA on April 14, 2008 – 11:48 pm -

MPD is not for everyone.

Before continuing into the article, a word of warning. MPD is not for everyone. If you are a casual desktop linux user with zero geek genes, stay away from this player. There are many other simpler players for you.

But then again, ‘casual desktop linux user’ – that sounds like a contradiction in terms. The very fact that you are reading this means that you are a geek.

Getting Started with MPD

Setting up MPD is not as simple as other music players.

Installation

To see MPD in action, first we have to install MPD – and a client. I installed the following…

  • MPD server
  • MPC – A command line MPD client
  • gmpc – A GUI client for Gnome

In a RedHat based system, you can install these using the command…

yum install mpd mpc gmpc

Configuration

Here is where it starts to get a bit confusing. MPD don’t have a pretty GUI to go along with it. It has to be configured using a text file. Create a file ‘.mpdconf’ in your home folder and enter the following in it…


port					"6600"
music_directory         "~/Songs"
playlist_directory      "~/.mpd/playlists"
db_file                 "~/.mpd/mpd.db"
log_file                "~/.mpd/mpd.log"
error_file              "~/.mpd/mpd.error"

The ‘music_directory'(“~/Songs” in our example) must point to the folder where you keep your music. If you have your music in multiple folders then I cannot help you. MPD was designed with just one music root directory in mind.

It is a good idea to create the playlist folder now – it will prevent errors later on. To do that run the command…

mkdir -p ~/.mpd/playlists

Next run these commands…

mpd --create-db
mpc update
mpc add /
mpc play

If all went well, you must be hearing sweet music now. Here is an explanation of the commands we used and their purpose…

mpd –create-db
This will start the daemon. The ‘–create-db’ argument will read the contents of the root music directory and add the Music files to a text database. You should see the list of files being added into the DB. This may take some time to complete – based on size of your music collection.
mpc update
The command used here is ‘mpc’ – not ‘mpd’. We are using a command line client now. This command scans the root music directory for updates.
mpc add /
This command will add all the files in the music directory to the current playlist. Please note that the ‘/’ here means root music directory – and not the global linux root.
mpc play
This will start playing the files in the current playlist.

GUI Clients

There are many GUI clients for MPD – the ones I would recommend are…

  • Gnome Music Player Client(gmpc)
  • Sonata

Once the mpd daemon is up and running, just open these clients and click on the connect button to control the daemon using these clients.


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Posted in Audio, Configuration | 4 Comments »

Frees – Hard Disk Drives Free Space Viewer

Written by BinnyVA on April 6, 2008 – 1:43 am -

I am taking a break from the regular MP3 Players Series for a special announcement. The first stable version of Frees has been released. Frees is a GUI tool that shows the Hard Disk space usage. It is written in Python using the GTK2 framework. This will only work in linux as it depends on the ‘df’ command. Frees just parses the output of df and shows it in a graphical format.

Download

Frees Screenshot

Features

Simple/Easy to use

Frees features a very simple interface. Granted, some of the columns like Device, Type and Mount Point may sound a bit geeky – but hey, you are using Linux. Its supposed to be geeky.

Ability to Remove Drives from the List

There may be some drives that you want to hide in the list. Like, say you have a 10 mb /boot partition – you have no user-level use for that. In Frees you can hide that partition in the list. Go to Preferences > Drives and check off the drive you want to hide.

Shows Total Space

The last item in the list is the ‘Total’ row. It shows the total space of your harddisk. Note that this shows the total of all mounted drives – so it may not be an accurate measure of your total HDD space.

Competition

KDiskFree

There is an alternative to this program – KDiskFree. Its a KDE App…

KDiskFree displays the available file devices (hard drive partitions, floppy and CD drives, etc.) along with information on their capacity, free space, type and mount point. It also allows you to mount and unmount drives and view them in a file manager.

I was not all that satisfied with KDiskFree – that’s why I created Frees. These are the advantages Frees has over KDiskFree…

  • KDiskFree cannot hide drives in the list.
  • KDiskFree includes mounted images, CD ROM/DVD ROM devices as list items. Frees ignores these items.
  • KDiskFree does not show the file system types for all drives – many are shown as ‘?’
  • Frees have the ‘Total HDD Space’ feature – KDiskFree does not have that.

But KDiskFree has one advantage over Frees – you can mount drives from within the application. You cannot do that in Frees.

df Command

The other alternative to Frees is the ‘df’ command. Here is the man entry for df…

df displays the amount of disk space available on the file system containing each file name argument. If no file name is given, the space available on all currently mounted file systems is shown.

df is not ‘user friendly’ in the classical sense of the term – its a terminal application. Unlike KDiskFree, I do not consider df to be a competition to Frees. As a matter of fact, Frees uses df command internally to get the space usage data.

Frees Links

Now, your job is to download this application and try it out. Send me any bugs you find and your suggestions.


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Posted in Applications, Gnome, News | 5 Comments »

Listen – Gtk MP3 Player

Written by BinnyVA on March 22, 2008 – 11:27 pm -

Listen Logo

I expected my MP3 player series will end with the last post – but the comments pointed to some other players. Two players stood out – so I decided that I will review them as well. The first one is Listen. Its a Gtk player written in Python.

Features

  • Supports Shoutcast Webradio
  • Supports Podcast
  • Multiple Display modes
  • Wikipedia Integration
  • Native Lyrics Support

Listen Screenshot

Disadvantages

No Global Shortcuts
At least, none that I could find.
“Interesting” Layout
The layout is kinda different from the standand layout of amaroK, Exaile, Rythmbox etc. I am still getting used to it. But once you get the hang of it, it could turn out to be a better system than the one that the other players use.

Advantages

OSD
Shows up on mouse hover and track change.
Tray Icon
Supports play/pause with middle click.
Music Library
Listen has a music library – but it supports only a single folder as its library folder.

More Information


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Posted in Applications, Audio, Gnome | 7 Comments »

Top 10 Linux MP3 Players

Written by BinnyVA on March 14, 2008 – 11:11 am -

Music

There are no shortage of audio players in Linux. It has everything from command line MP3 players(mpg123) to RAM eating GUI players(like Amarok). With easily available codecs, linux supports almost all available formats.

This is the final post on a series about MP3 Players in linux. This series focuses on dedicated audio players – not video players that can handle audio as well(like mplayer). Without further ado, presenting the top 10 Linux MP3 players…

1. Amarok

Amarok Logo

amaroK is currently the player of my choice – it rocks. Everything I ever wanted in a MP3 Player and more. It is the clear winner in this field. In my opinion, there is nothing that beats amarok even if you look at Windows and Mac MP3 players as well.

Amarok Linux MP3 Player Screenshot

More Information on Amarok MP3 Player

2. XMMS

XMMS Logo

A Winamp clone. Simple and user friendly, it is very popular on linux. It does not have a large feature set – but I am going to give it second place due to its popularity.

XMMS MP3 Audio Player Screenshot

Official Sites for XMMS Player

3. RhythmBox

RhythmBox Gnome Music Player Logo

Rhythmbox Music Player is a music player and library for tagged files, that support various music formats. It was inspired by Apple’s iTunes. Although it is designed to work well under the GNOME Desktop, I had no issues with it in KDE.

RhythmBox – Gnome Music Player

RhythmBox Media Player Screenshot

Official Sites

4. Exaile

Exaile MP3 Player Logo

Exaile is a music player aiming to be similar to KDE’s Amarok, but for GTK+ and written in Python. It incorporates many of the cool things from Amarok (and other media players)

Exaile – Music Player for Gtk+

Exaile Media Player Screenshot

Official Sites

5. Audacious

Audacious Logo

Audacious is not among the ‘star media-players’ in Linux – so many people never try it out. But those who have tried it out like it. For the sake of the article, I installed it – and I liked it. I even considered switching from amaroK to Audacious.

Audacious Media Player

Official Sites

6. Banshee

Banshee Music Player Logo

Banshee is an MP3 players for Gnome. You can import, organize, play, and share your music using Banshee’s simple, powerful interface.

Banshee – Music Management and Playback for GNOME

Banshee MP3 Player Screenshot

Banshee Official Sites

7. SongBird

SongBird MP3 Software Logo

SongBird is an MP3 player built on the XUL framework. It’s a desktop media player mashed-up with the Web.

SongBird – The Firefox of MP3 Players

Songbird Screenshot

Official Sites

8. Juk

Juk MultiMedia Player Logo

An audio jukebox that supports collections of MP3, Ogg Vorbis and FLAC files. It is a part of the kdemultimedia package.

Juk


9. mpg123/mpg321

mpg123 is a fast, free, minimalist, console MPEG audio player software program for UNIX and Linux operating systems.

mpg123/mpg321 – The Command Line MP3 Players

Official Sites

10. Other MP3 Players and Media Software…

Instead of putting the last MP3 Player here, I am going to list the MP3 software that did not make it to the list…

So, which is your favorite MP3 Player? Leave a comment…

Update: I reviewed two more players…


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Posted in Applications, Audio, Gnome, KDE | 96 Comments »

mpg123/mpg321 – The Command Line MP3 Players

Written by BinnyVA on February 25, 2008 – 1:25 am -

Terminal

So far we looked at the GUI MP3 Players for linux – like Amarok, Exile, XMMS etc. Most linux users need only that – but there are some people who want a simpler system – command line players. The two top players in this area are mpg123 and mpg321.

mpg123

mpg123 is a fast, free, minimalist, console MPEG audio player software program for UNIX and Linux operating systems. The development on this project ceased for a long time – but now it has a new maintainer.

mpg321

mpg321 is a clone of mpg123.

Installation

Most distros have mpg321 in their repositories(not all have mpg123) – so just log in as root and use these commands to install it…
yum install mpg321 – For RedHat, Fedora, CentOS etc.
OR
apt-get install mpg321 – For Debian, Ubuntu, etc.

Using mpg321

Using mpg321 is straight forward. Since it has no GUI, just go to the folder with the song and just execute the command…

mpg321 MP3_FILE_NAME

If you want to play all the songs in a folder, you have to create a list of files in that folder. Then you have to specify this list as an argument for the mpg321 command. These commands can get the job done…

Create a list of all MP3 Files in the current folder…

find . -name "*.mp3"|sed 's/\.\///;'|sort>List.lst

Use this list as the play list for mpg321

mpg123 --list List.lst

Why Use Command Line Players?

If we have a number of shiny GUI players, why should one use a command line player? Unless you are an anti-GUI command line guru, chances are you don’t need it. But still, it has its uses.

For example, if you have to restart the X Server often for some reason, then mpg321 is the best player for you. All other player will stop playing when X server is down.

This actually happend to me – when I bought my second LCD screen, it took me some time to configure it. And that meant editing the xorg.conf file and restarting the X Server to see if it worked. At that time, I opened a virtual terminal(Ctrl+Alt+F1) and opened mpg321 with a bunch of MP3s in the list. It kept playing even if the X server is down. This is propably the reason that I was still sane after around six hours of XOrg configuration. :-)


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Posted in Audio, Command Line, Tools | 11 Comments »

Exaile – Music Player for Gtk+

Written by BinnyVA on January 7, 2008 – 11:12 pm -

Exaile Logo

Exaile an amarok clone for Gnome – and I have to admit – I am impressed.

Exaile is a music player aiming to be similar to KDE’s Amarok, but for GTK+ and written in Python. It incorporates many of the cool things from Amarok (and other media players) like automatic fetching of album art, handling of large libraries, lyrics fetching, artist/album information via Wikipedia, Last.fm submission support, and optional iPod support via a plugin.

Exaile Screenshot

Features

It has many features that make amarok great…

  • Automatic fetching of album art
  • Handling large music libraries
  • Lyrics fetching
  • Fetches Artist/Album information from Wikipedia

And some features that amarok does not have…

  • Tabbed playlist interface
  • Song Blacklist Manager

Disadvantages

  • I could not find the Global Hotkeys feature

Download

If you want to try exaile, you can download exaile and install it yourself.

Related Links


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Posted in Applications, Audio, Gnome | 8 Comments »

Songbird – The Firefox of MP3 Players

Written by BinnyVA on December 11, 2007 – 10:39 pm -

Get Songbird

I just installed Songbird – an MP3 player built on the XUL framework. It is more integrated with the web than any other player I have seen. This is what Songbird have to say about themselves…

Songbird is a desktop media player mashed-up with the Web. Songbird is committed to playing the music you want, from the sites you want, on the devices you want, challenging the conventions of discovery, purchase, consumption and organization of music on the Internet.

Songbird is a player and a platform. Like Firefox, Songbird is an open source, Open Web project built on the Mozilla platform. Songbird provides a public playground for Web media mash-ups by providing developers with both desktop and Web APIs, developer resources and fostering Open Web media standards, to wit, an Open Media Web.

Advantages

Lots of Plugins

Since Songbird uses the XUL Framework extension development is easy for those who have worked on Mozilla extensions. As a result, there are a lot of extensions available.

Web Integration

This makes support for many features possible – like…

  • Podcasts
  • MP3 Downloads
  • Online Music Stores
  • And More…

Cross Platform

Songbird works on Windows, Linux and Mac. Makes no difference to me – but many will find this useful.

Disadvantages

Dark Default Skin

The default skin(or feather, as its know in Songbird) is too ‘flashy’ for my taste. I like simple, easy to use/navigate GUI. The Songbird interface is nothing like that – at least not for me.

Since the default skin is inspired by iTunes, this might be an advantage for iTunes users. For others, this issue is easily solvable – just install another skin.

Bugs

I downloaded the latest ‘Developer Pre-release’ version – so I found some bugs. But I am sure this will be removed in the stable release.

Related Links


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Posted in Applications, Audio | 8 Comments »

RhythmBox – Gnome Music Player

Written by BinnyVA on December 2, 2007 – 10:52 pm -

RhythmBox Logo

Rhythmbox Music Player is a music player and library for tagged files, that support various music formats. It was inspired by Apple’s iTunes. Although it is designed to work well under the GNOME Desktop, I had no issues with it in KDE. RhythmBox uses the GStreamer media framework. It is currently under active development.

Advantages

Clean Look
While other players aim to make their software flashy and full of features, RhythmBox went for simplicity. The inferface is very direct and easy to use.
Browse Mode
This is an easy way to browse through a large music collection.
Global Shortcut Available
I don’t know how – but Global Shortcuts are available. There is no option for it – but one of my global shortcuts – Ctrl+Alt+Home for Play/Pause works.

Disadvantages

Music Library
All your music must be within one folder if you want to use RhythmBox’s Music Library. You can set only one folder as the ‘Library Location’. This option is available at ‘Edit > Preferences > ‘Music’ Tab > Library Location
Font Bug
When I start RhythmBox, the font of all application becomes one size smaller. I think this is a bug that is limited to KDE – but still very irritating. The only way to fix this is restart the X Server
Play Queue
At the top left corner, in the Library column, there is a Option called ‘Play Queue’ – don’t mistake it for Playlist. This is a Queue of all the songs that must be played. If you try to play any song in that list, that song will jump to the top.
Minimize to System Tray
To hide the player don’t close it – that will quit the application. If you minimize it, it goes to the taskbar – I want to minimize it to the system tray. To do that, just click on the RhythmBox icon in the system tray. It take a little getting used to – but a workable method.

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Posted in Applications, Audio | 11 Comments »

Sound Issue in Fedora 8

Written by BinnyVA on November 14, 2007 – 5:48 pm -

Music

Today I upgraded my system from Fedora 7 to Fedora 8. The installation process went very smoothly. But once the installation was done, I started the long process of configuring it. That’s when I ran into the sound issue in Fedora 8 – and based on the forum posts, so did many others.

Basically, you get this error at KDE startup…

Sound Error Informational Message:
Error while initializing the sound driver:
device: default can't be opened for playback (Permission denied)
The sound server will continue, using the null output device

You will not be able to play any sound – amarok will crash if you try to play anything. But if you run system-config-soundcard(or System -> Administration -> Soundcard Detection), you will be able to hear the test sound. That is because you are running it as root.

Solution 1 – Console-Kit Service

Did you turn of Console-Kit and avahi-daemon startup services using system-config-services? If so, go back and re-enable them.

  • Run system-config-services(or System -> Administration -> Services)
  • Find Console-Kit and enable it
  • Find avahi-daemon, enable it
  • Restart the system and see if that fixed the problem.

This worked for me – so I did not try any of the following solutions.

Solution 2 – alsa-plugin

If the first solution did not solve the problem, try removing the pulseaudio plugin for alsa by running this command.

yum remove alsa-plugins-pulseaudio

Solution 3 – Permissions

If neither of the above work, open /etc/security/console.perms.d/50-default-perms and add this line to the top…

<sound>=/dev/dsp* /dev/snd/*

And at the end, add this line…

<console> 0666 <sound> 0600 root

Related Links

Hopefully, your problems are solved by now. If not, here are some links to help you further…

More about Fedora 8 in the next post.


Posted in Audio, Configuration, Fedora, Troubleshooting | 31 Comments »

Banshee – Music Management and Playback for GNOME

Written by BinnyVA on November 7, 2007 – 11:02 pm -

Banshee

Banshee is one of the best audio players for Gnome. It has most of the things I want in an MP3 software…

  • Stays in the system tray
  • Simple interface
  • Media Library
  • Ability to control the player using shortcuts without accessing the player(Multimedia Keys Plugin)

Unfortunately, I could not run this software in my system – it is showing a ‘No Codec’ error for all the files I tried to play. I tried to fix this problem by myself – I even tried reinstalling the software. Still no luck. I am sure that is is a configuration error on my part – I don’t think it is an issue in banshee.

Anyway, since I could not try out this software, I stop now. If I could fix this issue before my series on MP3 Players for Linux is over, I will come back and post the details on this page.


Posted in Applications, Audio, Gnome | 5 Comments »