MP3 software under Linux

About this document

This was originally written mid-1999 as a talk for the Linux Users of Victoria. Since I notice it still gets a fair few hits on my website, I figured I'll try and keep it reasonably up to date. Suggestions and updates are most welcome.

A General Overview

Making your own MP3 generally consists of running a few programs in succession. Fortunately, plenty of Eager Young Space Cadets have written front-ends to all this, saving you from the tyranny of the command-line. Or something.

This is obviously slanted towards the tools I currently use - I haven't been able to try out every tool out there !


If you're really keen, you can do it all yourself, bit by bit. It usually goes like this :


Most of these programs make use of the CDDB (or the more politically correct FreeDB) in order to try and guess the track names of the CD you're about to rip. They usually just run all of the command-line tools for you with all the correct parameters.

X11-based Front-Ends

Terminal-based Front-Ends

I haven't tried any of these yet. The links came from the BladeEnc page, but there are others mentioned at freshmeat.


There are two commonly-used programs here, one based on the other.


ID3 Tags

Since the MP3 format itself doesn't cater for storing info about the track itself, somebody decided to add 128 bytes of data to the end of the file to store various information like so (as culled from the id3ed source) :

/* Field Length offsets
 *  Tag 3 0-2
 *  Songname 30 3-32
 *  Artist 30 33-62
 *  Album 30 63-92
 *  Year 4 93-96
 *  Comment 30 97-126
 *  or{
 *    Comment 28 97-124
 *    zero 1 125
 *    Tracknum 1 126
 *  }
 *  Genre 1 127

As you can see though, this is slightly limiting, and there's an effort underway in the form of the ID3V2 standard to make all of this better and groovier.



Other Technologies

The Ogg Project has been working on Ogg Vorbis, a new patent-free audio compression format that hopes to rival other new proprietary audio formats. They have a free encoder and an XMMS plugin.

More Info


What about shoutcast, and such ? Some other time...