Are there any reasonable alternatives to MPD (music player daemon) as a remotely controlled music player? It should be controllable over the network and not require X server to run.

  • What should it do differently than MPD? – asjo Jul 25 '09 at 1:54
  • I am interested in all alternatives regardless of their capabilities. MPD itself lacks directory watching capabilities (you have to force it to refresh db once you add something new), playlists are quite static and there's no capability to edit tags remotely (it's annoying to have to edit them with external tools remotely). As it is stated on MPD wiki main page: MPD is a server that plays music. I wanted more :-) – Saulius Žemaitaitis Jul 25 '09 at 14:48
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    MPD has a lot of limitations: mpd.wikia.com/wiki/What_MPD_Is_and_Is_Not – endolith Oct 11 '09 at 15:06
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    Unfortunately it seems the alternatives have even more limitations. I wish one of the real programs like Banshee could be decoupled and run as a server on one machine and a client/remote control on another machine. Sigh. – endolith Oct 11 '09 at 15:54
  • Another possibility might be "faking" the X server (with Xvfb?) on the headless machine, and then using an X app via remote control. Banshee has remote controls, for instance. launchpad.net/banshee-remote-control dartmouth.edu/~nstamato/android.html – endolith Oct 11 '09 at 15:59

10 Answers 10


xmms2 is a great alternative.

From the webpage:

Client-server model

  • Allows XMMS2 to have various multiple interfaces (as clients).
    • Command line interfaces
    • GTK clients (matching GNOME & Xfce4 look and feel)
    • KDE clients (matching KDE look and feel)
  • Network transparency means you can run and control XMMS2 remotely, (e.g. run XMMS2 on your 'media box' and control it over network using a bluetooth-enabled PDA (TCP) - see Mobile platforms)
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  • Since ages ago I've known xmms2 as a GUI player, haven't even thought it could have a command line interfaces and remote network control support. Thanks for the info! – Saulius Žemaitaitis Jul 22 '09 at 8:16
  • xmms is/was a straight GUI player, xmms2 does not necessarily try to reimplement xmms but uses the client/server model and external GUI clients. – cschol Jul 22 '09 at 12:08
  • Oh ye, I meant xmms :-) – Saulius Žemaitaitis Jul 25 '09 at 14:44

Groove Basin is a competitor to MPD. It even supports the MPD protocol in addition to its own (better) protocol. It has built-in loudness scanning, file system watching, Last.fm scrobbling, Auto-DJ, tag-editing, and streaming support. It comes with a web-based interface which you can choose to use if you like (see screenshot).

Online Demo

Screenshot: Screenshot

Getting started on Ubuntu

You can install groovebasin on Ubuntu with:

sudo apt-get install groovebasin

Then create a symlink from ~/music to your own music folder:

ln -s -T $PATH_TO_OWN_MUSIC_FOLDER ~/music

Then start it:

groovebasin &

Then access it from a web browser at

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  • I tried groovebasin but it does not have an option for the user to enter username/password to access the songs. It also does not provide any way to access the interface from the LAN. it only works on localhost. I don't understand the reason behind missing these bare minimum requirements for usage. – Josh Nov 21 '15 at 14:15
  • It supports both of these features. The former can be configured in the "Settings" pane of the web interface, and the latter can be configured in the "config.json" file in the same directory as the server. I invite you to file an issue if you have trouble figuring out how this stuff works and I'll give a more detailed explanation. – andrewrk Nov 24 '15 at 1:56

I'm not recommending this, as I haven't tried it, but pita is a command-line client-server music player.

Update: According to the developer, it's meant to do much the same thing as MPD, and is not actively maintained. Also, it's Python instead of C, which is easier to extend, etc. They "definitely try to solve the same problems in much the same way".

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  • from the project homepage: "If you want opengl waveform oscilloscope plugins to dance around the screen while you play Winger's greatest hits at top volume, you probably need something else." – quack quixote Oct 11 '09 at 15:30
  • Unfortunately, I WANT something with bells and whistles, and MPD doesn't have them. I don't want dumb visualizations, but I do want DAAP access, Last.fm radio, tag editing and deletion of files from the client, album art sent to the client from the server, etc. – endolith Oct 11 '09 at 17:26

I also really really like Ampache.

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  • Description of what it is and isn't: ampache.org/wiki/about – endolith Oct 12 '09 at 18:01
  • Ampache does not display if a song is playing or not when using localplay. No seekbar too :( – Josh Nov 21 '15 at 14:16

MythTV has also served me extremely well.

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deejayd is another option, that was born of shortcomings in MPD and XMMS2. It's only got a few clients at the moment, a command-line one and a web interface. It's written in Python with GStreamer or Xine for media decoding, and uses JSON-RPC as the message format.

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Not sure if you knew this, but the latest MPD has support for libinotify, which apparently updates the DB automatically.

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I haven't tried this, either, but Audacious can be run headless and controlled by clients. Wikipedia

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You're looking for mpd. Just with better clients.

freedrull mentioned it now has support for libinotify (which I am unaware of). I've seen cool scripts based on using the inotify "cron" daemon, to auto-run mpd update when the filesystem changes.

Tag editing is also dependant on the mpd client app. I've found that ncmpcpp does a good job of editing tags and handling playlists.

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You may be able to use the Squeezebox Server software to meet this need. It's basically a set of Perl scripts, so it runs anywhere without needing a GUI, and it's not necessary to have the Squeezebox hardware to use it. It exports a web interface and a HTTP MP3 stream, and there's also a variety of clients for different platforms that have some of the features you've described.

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