Tag Archives: player

greg: You’re so vain

Everyone named “Greg” out there in the world can now sit up straight and imagine this little program is named in their honor.


I was introduced to greg after yesterday’s note about podcastxdl, and in spite of its lack of color and command-action-target input style, I think I like it better than the latter.

Of course, that screenshot isn’t very interesting, but what you see there is a lot of the way greg works. It maintains a list of podcasts and addresses, and you can wrangle them with fairly straightforward actions.

greg add adds to that list. greg remove drops it off, after you confirm it. greg check sees if anything is updated, and greg sync synchronizes your local folder with what’s available online. Like I said, it’s fairly straightforward.

I don’t see anything offhand that disappoints me about greg. I ran into no errors except when I fed it an invalid link, and it warned me that it wasn’t going to work. And aside from the lack of color and lack of an “interface,” it seems to work perfectly without my empty-headed suggestions.

So there’s greg, which we can add to the meager list of podcast aggregators for the console. Now do you see it? “greg”? “aggregator”? Aha. … 😉

podcastxdl: One-shot downloads for your ears

There are not many podcast tools I can mention, in the years spent spinning through console-based software. In fact, I can think of only about four. But here’s one you can add to your list, if you’re keeping one: PodcastXDL.

2015-04-19-6m47421-podcastxdl 2015-04-19-6m47421-podcastxdl-02

PodcastXDL works in a similar fashion to podget, which you might remember from a looong time ago. Give PodcastXDL a url and a file type, and it should parse through the stream and pull down everything that matches.

It can also spit out links, meaning you can use PodcastXDL to supply links to files, rather than download them. There are also command-line options to start or stop at specific points in a feed, which might be helpful for cropping out older files.

I’ll be honest and say I had a few difficulties working with PodcastXDL, most notably that it didn’t accept my target download directory. If you run into issues with PodcastXDL and nothing seems to be arriving, I would suggest leaving off any -d argument.

Other than that small hiccup, PodcastXDL did what it promised, and I ran into no major issues. It has good color, plenty of options and has seen updates within the past month or so, if you shy away from dated software.

If you need something quick and one-shot for podcast downloads, this could work for you and is better looking than podget was. If you’re looking for something more comprehensive and with more of an interface, stick with podbeuter.

mpfc: Doing everything so right

Once I knew what mpfc stood for, it made perfect sense — it is, after all, a music player for the console.

2015-04-09-lr-0xtbe-mpfc-01 2015-04-09-lr-0xtbe-mpfc-02 2015-04-09-lr-0xtbe-mpfc-03

And a very nicely done music player too, I might add. You can learn how to handle 90 percent of mpfc within the first 15 seconds of starting it, which is a delightful thing.

The opening screen will cue you to use the question mark for help screens at any point in time, and the available keys are listed with their function in a popup window.

mpfc has a playlist-and-browser approach that might remind you of the good old days of cplay. Pressing “B” puts you into a file navigation mode, and highlighting a file is done with the Insert key — much like Midnight Commander.

Once you have selected a file or two, add it to the playlist with the “a” key, or swap out the playlist for your current selections with the “r” key (for “replace”). It’s very intuitive, and very easy to master.

The playback screen has balance controls, volume indicators, an animated progress indicator and a live-update status display for bitrate and so forth. And as you open popups, a tab bar along the bottom shows your “breadcrumb trail,” in case you get yourself lost in layers of windows. 🙄

And as you can see … glorious, glorious color. :mrgreen:

I really can’t find anything bad to say about mpfc; if I had any warnings or advice, they would boil down to a note that mpfc relies on gstreamer for playback, and to remember that your music filetype will require certain support for gstreamer. It’s a slightly different model than what most players use, but I find no fault.

mpfc is in AUR, but not in Debian. The home page is on Google Code, so if you like it and want to preserve it, you probably should export it to Github so it doesn’t disappear when Google Code shuts down in January.

Oh, I almost forgot — a gold star for mpfc, for doing everything so right: ⭐ Enjoy! 🙂

emms: Your one-stop text editor, music player and operating system

I suppose it had to come to this:


It’s emms. It’s emacs, playing music. Because emacs can check your e-mail, run a spreadsheet, chat with your friends, read your newsfeeds and now play your music.

Because it’s emacs, and that’s what it does — everything. 😉

I will not speak ill of emms since it’s doing exactly what it claims it will do. But I will hint that mplayer is running in the background while emms “plays,” which says to me that the heavy lifting is accomplished elsewhere. (I believe it can use other player tools too.)

It does manage playlists and control the actual playback, so I give it credit for that, and doing it from within another application. Given that you can navigate emacs to start with (note for future self: M-x then emms-play-directory 😉 ), it shouldn’t be difficult to handle.

And emms is not terrifically new, and is in both Arch proper and Debian.

It’s interesting that by this point, if you could get all five or six of those other tools working, you’d have an entire “desktop” ecosystem in place, and in ostensibly riding upon one program. And if you can rig your whole machine to run emacs on the kernel, you’re golden.

Like I always say though, I’m not enough of a fan of emacs (or its main competitor, which shall go unnamed) to see this as much more than a nifty gimmick. If you’re already an emacs user, you might be able to slim your list of applications by one or two, if you adopt it. Have fun. 😉

P.S.: Thanks to Greg for pointing it out. 🙂

mps: Not unlike its brother

I was sorely tempted to gloss over mps, because I mentioned mps-youtube way back in September. But I’ve spent a short time with it and I think it’s worthy of mention in its own right.


mps sticks very close to mps-youtube in terms of operation and playback; enter a search term at the startup and mps will show a series of results. Cue the number of the track and mps feeds it into mplayer (or mpv), and the standard keys and controls are available to you.

The home page for mps suggests it can also create playlists, search for single tracks or through album lists, download tracks as well as stream, and a few other nifty tricks.

The home page also says the program works with python 2.7 and 3.3, but does not require any python dependencies. I’m a little fuzzy on that, but as a general rule of life, I subscribe to the principle that less dependencies is better.

I’ll keep this short since much of what mps does is similar to mps-youtube, and rehashing the features of one isn’t necessarily an endorsement of the other. If you liked the way mps-youtube worked — and I did, quite a lot as a matter of fact — mps is going to be familiar and enjoyable. Try one, try the other. 😉

juke: Just a little more than the bare minimum

At the absolute minimum, you could expect to get sound playback out of your computer simply by tacking on file names and a few oddball flags to something like mpg123 or sox.

It’s not ideal, and it lacks the grace and dignity of a proper console application, but it will work and there are plenty of similar tools that can do it. So even in a worst-case scenario, you have your tunes.

In that sense, juke doesn’t offer a whole lot over those programs, either in terms of an interface or playback controls. In fact, juke is really only doing the tiniest bit over the bare minimum.

2014-12-24-jsgqk71-juke-01 2014-12-24-jsgqk71-juke-02

juke takes on a two-screen approach that might remind you of cplay or its kin. By default juke starts in a browser mode, showing files that you can add to a playlist with “a”, or navigate with HJKL or arrow keys.

Once you add a tune, it immediately starts playing. Press “t” to switch to the playlist view, and your navigation keys will again allow you to move through queue. If you need more help than that, press “h” and juke is kind enough to give you a rundown on key commands. There aren’t many to learn.

I made the point about juke offering very little over a command-line playback tool because juke is really just a frontend for mpg123 or sox. So you might find that it’s only the tiniest improvement over tacking filenames on to those programs.

juke adds a small layer of obfuscation as well. juke won’t start without a .juke.conf file in your home directory, but there’s no sample, and you need to copy-and-paste one out of the MANUAL file in the source tarball (it’s not terribly confusing).

juke also seems to also require a target directory, in the same way as ksmp3play or muzikq. I won’t split hairs here: That style is obtuse for me, and all the more so since juke is prepared to navigate through directories to find music files. So why not just start in the directory where the executable was issued? :\

juke is also not particularly beautiful, and aside from tagging files with a “q” when they are added to the queue, not a whole lot happens visually.

There’s also no time display, no obvious controls for playback except to skip titles, and no indicator that playback is started, unless you can hear it playing. I would strongly recommend you don’t use juke to troubleshoot your audio hardware. 😦

juke has two small positive points that I can find: It’s written in C, and that means it’s fairly light. Neither of those makes up for juke’s extremely lackluster performance though.

If you clicked on the link above, you already know the home page 404s. The source code for juke is in the Debian repos, and I was able to build it in Arch and use juke without issue. Oddly, the Debian rendition would install through the Mint repos but wouldn’t play back any sounds for me.

No major loss. I don’t think juke is a particularly fantastic audio playback tool, but I suppose it could hold its charms … if you’re looking for one step above the absolute minimum. 😐

aylet: Sounds across the Spectrum

I never had a ZX Spectrum. I never had a *00-series Atari computer either. I spent my formative years in front of a C64, as I have oft mentioned, and so a lot of the developments or innovations on other hardware is a little lost on me.

I can appreciate attempts to preserve the musical artistry of a generation or architecture though, so aylet is interesting to me.


So if the genius of the General Instrument AY-3-8910 sound chip escapes my appreciation, aylet is still fun to work with.

This might look a little like stymulator to you, and that was the first thing I thought of when I saw it. I didn’t take the time to dig through the history of aylet and stymulator, but it may be that they share the same author or code tree.

Key controls are on the screen, with switches for track control and a few other options. aylet may not be as visually attractive as some other players, but it knows its audience and does not disappoint.

aylet is in Debian but not in Arch/AUR; I compiled what you see there with the original source code from the Debian package page and had no problems. I needed alsa-oss again to keep it working with “modern” sound arrangements though. 😉

Oh, I almost forgot: You’ll need some sound files, of course. Start here and see what you can find. I am sure there’s something in there that will trigger the nostalgia region of your brain. 😉

lienmp3: How far we’ve come

Ordinarily when a program fails to deliver as badly as lienmp3 did, I’m content to roll it into a post with some other remainders. In this case though, I’m going to make an exception.

Everything about lienmp3 is likely to be disappointing to you: The download link was hidden, the source code is as much as a dozen years out of date, the interface is loud and poorly arranged, and ultimately, even though it would compile and run, when comes time to play music, lienmp3 just flat quits and returns you to the prompt. It’s a collection of faults.

So why mention it at all?


No, it’s not the abundant use of color, even if that’s more than I could ever ask for. And it’s not the relatively easy navigation and on-screen key legend. Even that is a bit … mangled.

If I have to be honest, it’s because I’m sentimental. :\

Almost a decade ago, I was pushing people not to discard 800Mhz machines. Five years ago that had risen to 2.5Ghz. Now I find myself suffering the dreadful weight of the web on a 12-year-old Pentium 4. Times change.

So when the home page for lienmp3 claimed it was (at some point in time) quite usable on 90Mhz Pentium-grade hardware, and could possibly work on slower machines if you were willing to downgrade to mono output … I felt a little nostalgic.

A boast of that nature just doesn’t happen any more. Nobody tries to align their software with the hardware of 1998; it’s just assumed that you’re running multiple cores and double-digit gigabytes of memory. Console software isn’t valued by its ability to transfer to sub-100Mhz CPUs any longer.

And claiming a foothold on the Pentium-era hardware means lienmp3 ostensibly falls into a discrete class of software, on par with things like mjs and a few other ancient titles, that were striving for lower system specs at a time when “lower” meant pre-1996. 😐

So forgive me if I hold up a broken, poorly arranged, difficult-to-find mp3 player on the grounds of a claim I can’t even verify. In this case, it’s just interesting to look back, and see how far we’ve come.

musiql: Perhaps the obvious answer to music management

I’m not a fan of applications that attempt to manage my music collection, mostly because I have the music arranged, in folders, how I like it. Similarly I’m not interested in ratings systems, fuzzy searches, popularity statistics or tagging, other than making sure the data in the built-in tag matches the file name. Sorry. It’s just not my nature.

I do, however, respect programmers and their applications that incorporate those features, not because I want them, but because I know it’s an accomplishment to get them working. So for example, cmus is all the more impressive because it runs perfectly on Pentium 1 hardware and has a lot of useful management features.

I suppose though, if you really wanted to get physical with the console music management concept, you could go to the logical extreme with musiql.


musiql doesn’t have much of an interface, won’t show you pretty timers or multicolor counters, and come to think of it, doesn’t really care what you’re listening to or how it’s arranged.

musiql jams your music collection into SQLite, and sets you free to sort, filter, search and booleanize to your heart’s delight. Once you’ve set the rules for what you want to listen to, musiql pipes everything through mplayer, and the deed is done.

There are a couple of obvious points here that I will go ahead and make, just for clarity.

First and foremost, you’ll need some familiarity with SQLite to get it working. What I showed above is really just a crude hack job that I copied off the examples from the help flags. If you need more intricate selections, you’ll need more intricate selection skills.

Second, if you’re looking for something with more visual panache, musiql isn’t it. In fact, musiql is pretty much a hands-off application, and just serves up your request to mplayer, which does everything else (a job it is more than qualified to do, I should add). You can, of course, send along a few flags to mplayer, if needed (in other words, you can enable -really-quiet).

Third, musiql itself is capable of most fundamental management tasks through command line flags, and will even handle smaller details like last.fm submissions (or disable them, to be more specific). It’s not so obvious (to me) how you can edit or micromanage that music database once it’s built, short of some more SQLite expertise.

On the other hand, I can see where this might open the field to a few more nifty tools. If you’re familiar with SQLite and you’re not intimidated by a music database in that format, this might be the cat’s meow. And I’m sure there are tools (for the console or otherwise) that will assist in reading, editing or at least giving more control over the database itself.

And given that SQLite is intended for high-end servers, corporate-level databases, etc., etc., I’m guessing it can handle the biggest, densest music collection out there. So if you’re touting a 4Tb music melange and lacking for a console application that can wrangle it all, this might be the one for you.

musiql is not the only music player to embrace SQLite, but it might be the one that offers (requires?) the most low-level, hands-on control.

For that, I’ll give a thumbs-up to musiql, and for merging SQLite and mplayer in a fashion I didn’t expect, and for maybe being the most obvious solution for music management. It’s not something I’d adopt any time soon, but I can see the attraction for other folks. Enjoy, at your own risk. 😉

muzikq: With some small improvements

I promised yesterday that I would show ksmp3play‘s heir apparent, and I’m glad I tackled them in chronological order, because it makes things a little bit easier.

muzikq is a good looking audio player, with a similar-yet-different arrangement it obviously inherited from ksmp3play.


Green is a good step for a music player; it’s not often I see an audio tool done over in green and black. And the addition of the info panel on the left is a strong point for me, just be cause I like details at a glance.

Aside from the aesthetic, muzikq picks up on a lot of the strong points that ksmp3play had: Most of the fine-tuning options can be triggered from the command line. File size is shown at the bottom. The scroll bar on the right is animated; as you move through your playlist, the bar highlight shows your relative distance from the top or bottom. Software volume is shown at the upper right, across from a file name display and with timers. It’s a good arrangement and I like it.

But (and you probably know where I’m going with this) muzikq also inherits some of the quirks of its forefather. I can’t start the interface without first selecting a file, although muzikq at least offers a selection dialog as a gesture of goodwill.

You can select multiple files to add, but you still can’t recursively add a folder — which is a huge shortcoming to me. If you don’t add a file, or if you try to just add a folder, muzikq collapses and sends you back to the prompt.

The add dialog has a provision for entering a path, but it’s limited to a specific number of characters, and doesn’t seem to add files from there, or move your selection prompt to that folder. I’m not sure if that feature is actually complete yet. I also had some corruption of longer lists, where paging through the folders skipped over some names by virtue of the size of the screen. That’s a little difficult to imagine, but if you see it happen, you’ll know what I mean.

Once you have a list of files added, muzikq lets you sort them on several points, but also has a provision for a rating system, which is a nice touch. How those ratings are used, or if you can sort with them, or if they’re figured into randomized play … I’m not sure.

My only other notes were on occasional screen corruption, where resizing the terminal might cause labels or data (particularly in the info box) to spill over and make a mess. Even at 80×24 the file size display was consistently broken. And there are some other places where the otherwise clean lines and enjoyable interface gets polluted.

I should also note that, like ksmp3play, muzikQ relies on SDL mixer (in the AUR version) and a couple other packages that might (I’ll just say might, since I can’t be sure) imply an X environment. So if you’re not keen on dragging in everything that X involves, be careful when installing this one.

I’ll let muzikq go now. It’s certainly not a bad program and does play music, like it promises. It has a lot of features I like but there are some parts of it I can’t get past, like the lack of an add-folder options. So, does the rest of the world just keep all their music in one flat folder … ?! 😕