Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Old School Audio Playback

One of the things that can be frustrating as an "old school" Linux user is that, with each upgrade to a new distro / release, familiar lightweight tools for everyday tasks fall out of fashion, and flashier new GUIs take their place.  Often, the older tools are still available, but they may not work out-of-the-box as they once did.  When I find something like this, I think it's worthwhile to document it publicly.   And while what I'm documenting may be obvious to some people, my perspective is that if it took me more than 30 seconds to figure it out, someone else is going to search the web for it eventually.

I have an old workstation running Fedora 16 in text mode (partly because I don't need a GUI, and partly because the nouveau graphics driver doesn't behave well on this system).  Today I wanted to play a CD and  went looking for a CLI to do so... nothing? Okay, I was going to rip it eventually, so cdparanoia + vorbis-tools (oggenc) got that job done.  Next, I tried ogg123 to play the converted files ... no sound.  There are probably some hoops I could have jumped through to get PulseAudio working, but I found that after a simple "alsactl init", ogg123 worked just fine.  I don't recall having to explicitly initialize the sound card like this in recent years, but it's good to know how simple it is.

It's worth noting that ogg123 uses about 5 MB of RAM, and about 1% of my CPU (maybe less) during playback.   Very nice.

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