Tuesday, February 2, 2010

XMMS music player

If you liked Winamp and thought you had to stop using it under Linux, well, think again. XMMS is a very light yet powerful audio player that looks and works very similar to Winamp.

When you install Ubuntu from scratch, there is no such thing as a light audio specific player pre-installed. There is Rhythmbox, of course, but it is not particularly light, and it is actually more of an attempt to mimic iTunes functionality, rather than a small and light player. Honestly, I always loved that in Winamp, one of those few applications that does what it is meant to be doing, quick and right.

Eventually I decided to install XMMS in my USB Ubuntu installation. Being USB based, it was struggling a bit when I was running Songbird, which is kind of a heavy application. On top of that, since I am using an 8GB USB drive, I can't really store loads of music in it, so what's the point in having an application like songbird that can manage music libraries, show CD covers, pull down artist info and song lyrics?

I decided I would be better off just running a very light audio player that would play my music after a simple double click. Here's how XMMS looks:

Well, actually, that's just one of its many skins!!!!

Now, to install XMMS on an Ubuntu machine, you simply need to add the XMMS repositories. For other distros, visit XMMS OFFICIAL SITE for further details.

In order to add the XXMS repositories, you can do so from the GUI, just go to System menu > Administration > Software Origins. Alternatively, you can do so from the command line, typing the following command:

sudo gedit /etc/apt/sources.list &

Then, scroll down to the end of that file and add a couple of lines as specified below, depending on your version of Ubuntu:

Ubuntu Jaunty 32- and 64-bit x86

deb http://www.pvv.ntnu.no/~knuta/xmms/jaunty ./
deb-src http://www.pvv.ntnu.no/~knuta/xmms/jaunty ./

Ubuntu Karmic 32- and 64-bit x86

deb http://www.pvv.ntnu.no/~knuta/xmms/karmic ./
deb-src http://www.pvv.ntnu.no/~knuta/xmms/karmic ./

Now save and close the file sources.list.

If you added these repositories from the GUI, you will be automatically asked for updating sources. If you ran it from the command line, do so as follows:

sudo apt-get update

Now, let's install XMMS. You can once again choose to do so from the GUI, using the package manager of your choice. From the command line, just type the following:

sudo apt-get install xmms

Now that we have installed XMMS, let's use it! Unfortunately, in my experience, the installation of XMMS does not create any launcher in the Applications menu or in the desktop, so you will need to create one.

In order to create a launcher in Applications menu, go to System menu > Preferences > Main menu. Select the Sound and Video section and click on the "New item" button. Then, enter the application description, the application command and finally choose a custom icon if you please. You can use the screenshot below as a reference:

Now, I usually enjoy double clicking on an MP3 file and having it play on XMMS, instead of opening XMMS and opening the song I want to hear. In other words, I like having XMMS as my default MP3 player.

If you like that feature as well, you need to set up your music file extensions to run XMMS by default. In order to do so, right click on an MP3 file, click on "Properties", then go to the "Open with..." tab. XMMS might not be on the list. If the case, click on the "Add" button and add it. You may need to enter the command itself if it can't be found in the list of available applications.

If you are like me, you like having many look & feel options at hand, so let's download some skins. There is a great collection of skins available HERE. In order to be able to use those skins, extract them into the following folder:


Now you can change skins by simply right clicking on XMMS itself, going to Options menu > Skin browser.

That should be it, I hope you enjoy XMMS as much as I do!


EDIT (08/02/2010): I was a bit frustrated that I could not right click on a music file and enqueue it, as I have always done with Winamp. I thought it could not be so difficult, so I went and checked the options available for the XMMS application. From a terminal emulator window type the following:

xmms --help

As you can see from that list, there is an option (as expected) that allows us to do just what we're after:

-Q, --queue
Add file(s) to playlist and queue

So now you simply need to repeat the process described above to add XMMS to the list of applications available to open MP3 files with, only calling XMMS with this option this time. When you are done, you should see a main "Open with XMMS" option at the top of the menu (same we had already). In addition, you should see another entry for this option below, as an alternative program to open MP3 files with. You should be able to enqueue files with that option.

Give it a try and let me know if something does not go as expected!


  1. I think that it is so cool, I love the music and the music player is so important to some DJS!so I love the information! thanks for sharing!22dd

  2. I think that this sounds geat!!! linux rules!!

  3. This blog is very good, i would like to read more info about this program.