New Projects - Fresh from the Labs

audiopreview—Multimedia Previewer (

I love niche programs, especially in the area of multimedia. If you're like me, you probably have a folder full of MP3s and Oggs collected from the last ten years that's reached the point where you've forgotten half the files in there. This month, I stumbled upon the charming little command-line program, audiopreview. To quote the project's Freshmeat entry:

audiopreview is a command-line tool that plays previews of many audio file types (Ogg, MP3, etc.), video file types (AVI, MPEG, Real, etc.), and Internet streams. It also can be used as a regular command-line media file player (that is, play the files entirely like yauap or mpc123 would).

audiopreview is a simple and easy command-line program for previewing large numbers of music files.

Although the name may suggest otherwise, audiopreview also plays video files.


Packages for audiopreview are available in Debian/Ubuntu format or the usual source. If you're running with the source, according to the man page, you need the following libraries: gstreamer0.10-plugins-base, gstreamer0.10-plugins-good, gstreamer0.10-plugins-bad and gstreamer0.10-plugins-ugly.

I found I also had to install the intltool library to get past the configure script. Once you have the library side of things sorted out, compile the program with the usual:

$ ./configure
$ make

If your distro uses sudo:

$ sudo make install

If your distro doesn't:

$ su
# make install


Using the actual command can be as simple as entering the folder where the files you want to hear are located and entering:

$ audiopreview *

(The * is used to indicate all the files in a folder.)

Once the program is running, you'll be greeted with a simple track listing, along with other relevant information in purple. As far as controls go, the spacebar pauses and unpauses the stream, N plays the next stream, and P plays the previous stream. R restarts the current stream, and Q stops playing and exits the program.

That's the basic usage out of the way, but let's refine it with some command-line switches to hone your usage. For new Linux users, these are added at the end of the command, like this:

$ audiopreview files-to-play --switch

If you plan on using audiopreview to play a whole song instead of in segments, use the switch --entirely or -e.

If you want audiopreview to start over again after the last song has been played, use --loop or -l.

As mentioned previously, audiopreview also can play some video formats. However, this being a command-line program, there's a good chance you may not have X running. If so, you'll want to disable the video to avoid errors. To do so, enter --no-video.

The default starting position for each file seems to be random, which might become annoying for those looking for more specific sections of a song. Thankfully, you can specify which section of a song you want to hear with a simple numerical switch. Add: --position=POSITION or -p POSITION, and replace POSITION with the numbers 0, 1, 2 or 3. 0 sets the position to the beginning, 1 to the middle, 2 to the end, and 3 makes the start position random.

Last but not least, engage the all-important shuffle function with --shuffle or -S. For example:

$ audiopreview *.mp3 -p 1 --shuffle

The above command plays all the MP3 files in a directory, sets the starting position to the middle of a song and shuffles the order in which they're played.

You can work out the rest from here, but honestly, do yourself a favor and check out the man page with:

$ man audiopreview

Ultimately, audiopreview fills a nice little niche that will appeal to anyone sorting through large collections of music (and some video) files. DJs in particular will find this of real use, but I found it great for rediscovering songs I hadn't listened to in years. Love it.


John Knight is the New Projects columnist for Linux Journal.

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