A quick guide to Linux audio players

Linux offers many free audio players. If you haven’t settled for one yet, or are confused about which one you should use, this guide will help you choosing. Even though this is a non-exhaustive list, it gathers the main audio players available for Linux. All of them should be installable through your package manager; if not, download them from the official pages of each player.

1. Rhythmbox

Rhythmbox is the default music player in many Linux distributions, including Ubuntu. It offers an interface similar to iTunes’ one, and supports common options. Originally developed for GNOME, it works on other desktop environments now.

RhythmboxWhile Rhythmbox supports the main audio file types (MP3, flac, wav, etc), it is unable to handle cuesheets (.cue) and APE files (.ape). However, it can display album art and song lyrics and features a last.fm integration which works well; it also supports Jamendo. Besides, Rhythmbox also includes audio CD ripping & burning, DAAP music sharing and iPod/iPhone support. There are a number of plugins available.

Rhythmbox is integrated within some applications, noticeably Nautilus, XChat, Pidgin (and others).

Official page: http://projects.gnome.org/rhythmbox/

2. Banshee

Banshee has exactly the same features as Rhythmbox. The only difference is its interface.


Official page: http://banshee.fm/

3. Amarok

Amarok is an audio player originally designed for KDE that has been ported to other desktop environments. The interface is organized in 3 parts: files sources, current track playback with its lyrics and the artist’s biography on Wikipedia, and playlists.


While the additional widgets, compared to the two other main Linux audio players, are a great, user-experiment enhancing feature, they can feel overwhelming if you’re used to simple interfaces. Amarok supports FLAC, Ogg, MP3, AAC, WAV, Windows Media Audio, Apple Lossless, WavPack, TTA and Musepack files. However, it doesn’t play music files containing DRM. Album art is retrieved through Amazon; you can create dynamic or smart playlists; and synchronize, retrieve, play and upload to and from iPod/iPhone and other USB devices with VFAT support.

Official page: http://amarok.kde.org/

4. DeaDBeeF

My personal favourite! Deadbeef supports a lot of different audio file types (mp3, ogg vorbis, flac, ape, wv, wav, m4a, mpc, tta, cd audio, and more), and cuesheets (cue). While its Gtk2 interface isn’t as user-friendly as Rhythmbox or Banshee, it remains customizable, and doesn’t require any GNOME/KDE dependency.

DeaDBeeFThe user can change the columns and associate functions to them (such as a bitrate column). It fully reads different formats of tags, and gets album art either from user-provided images or last.fm. Its main strength, however, comes from the variety of plugins it contains. Gapless playback is enabled by default.

5. QuodLibet

Besides being an audio player, QuodLibet is also a tag editor and library organizer. The interface is heavily customizable, meaning you choose the way it displays your playlists.

Quod Libet

It reads MP3, Ogg Vorbis, FLAC, Musepack, MOD/XM/IT, WMA, Wavpack, MPEG-4 AAC files, but can’t handle APE files and cuesheets. QuodLibet compensates for this little default by being an extremely fast organizer: it can import thousands of files in almost no time. The interface can be viewed in many different ways:

– a paned browser, similar to Rhythmbox, with customizable tags (that is, different items listing, for example, you can browse songs or albums by their release dates, or by the artists, etc).

– a progressive search.

– album list with cover art

– a few others.

Available plugins include Last.fm/AudioScrobber support, automatic tagging, and fetching album art from online sources.

6. Exaile

Exaile is a port of an older version of Amarok. Similarly to QuodLibet, it is written in Python, and has a very simple interface, consisting of two panels (artist/album).


It incorporates automatic fetching of album art, lyrics fetching, Last.fm scrobbling, support for portable media players, internet radio such as shoutcast, and tabbed playlists.

And that’s it, folks! Try these players and stick with the one you like.


"Knowledge is power. Information is liberating." - Kofi Annan. I love messing with stuff. The result's always awesome!

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Posted in GNU/Linux, Music
4 comments on “A quick guide to Linux audio players
  1. Rich says:

    Besides mpd, my personal favorite is clementine.

  2. Mike says:

    Sorry, but I’ve got to mention Guayadeque. It’s by far my favorite Linux music player. It’s lightweight, fast, attractive, and very user friendly. Check it out.

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