I generally prefer to do things on the command line when I can. Mplayer is a great tool for playing all sorts of media, but the command line interface sucks. Some things I'd like to see in a CLI media player would include:

  • Clean output - easy to understand, not cluttered by a bunch of stuff that's irrelevant in day-to-day use
  • ID3 information
  • Progress bar & play time info (total time, current time, time left)
  • Play queue - list of songs with lengths and an indication of where you are currently

migrated from stackoverflow.com Oct 26 '10 at 7:29

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  • There is one listed on the mplayer site, called "mplay", but I was unable to make it work. There is no debian file, nor is it in the ubuntu repositories, and the install file barfs when I try to run it. So I don't really consider that a valid option at this point. If someone recommends it (and has an idea how to make it work), I'd consider it again. – Jack Senechal Oct 26 '10 at 2:29

I've settled on using mpd (Music Player Daemon), with a CLI interface called ncmpcpp. This combination works quite well, and there are some excellent companion apps to do things like audioscrobbling (mpdscribble), and controlling it with media buttons (indimpc). It's perhaps not as light-weight a solution as mplayer, but it feels like a good balance.

Another CLI media player that's worthy of note, although I use it less often, is herrie. It's got all of the features I outlined in the original question, and it's very lightweight.

  • 1+ mpd + ncmpcpp is simple and clean. Managing playlists and queuing songs are very easy once you get the keyboard shortcuts right. – user111228 Jan 7 '12 at 20:03

Check out cmus

From the Wikipedia article:

cmus (C* Music Player) is a small and fast console audio player for Unix-like operating systems. cmus is distributed under the terms of the GNU General Public License (GPL) and operates exclusively through a text-only interface, built with ncurses.

I use it for listening random songs from my library. For most purposes though, mplayer is just fine for me. E.g. options like -playlist, -shuffle help. You can also fine-grain the amount and colorize the output of mplayer if you find it too much/less.

  • Can you get it to play the audio of, e.g., .flv files? Those are the ones I most often get with youtube-dl, and in mplayer[2], it's possible to just play them in a tty (obviously, with no video). – Emanuel Berg Nov 25 '12 at 1:57
  • 1
    I doubt that cmus is able to do it. But better than flv downloads from youtube is this: 1. switch youtube to html5. 2. on playing a clip click: website icon -> More information -> Media -> In the column type there is one video. 3. select this row & save as clip.webm. 4. Run ffmpeg -i clip.webm -vn -acodec copy out.ogg – Sebastian Nov 26 '12 at 7:41

While I'm not sure it'll help, have you checked out the vlc command line? I haven't used it, but I VLC when it comes to quality playback, and it should do most of the things that you would use mplayer for (if not all of them).


  • Yeah, VLC command line doesn't really do what I'm looking for. It will play things, but it's not the type of user-friendly CLI interface I'd like to play music with on a daily basis. – Jack Senechal May 19 '11 at 6:44

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