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AlsaPlayer - PCM audio player for Linux and compatible OSes

Original version written by Andy Lo A Foe ( GZK2 interface written by Madej from Poland. Contributions from many other peoples. See the AUTHORS file for details.


AlsaPlayer is a PCM player developed on the Linux Operating System. Since the first public beta release it support has been added for various other Operating Systems (mostly Unix variants). AlsaPlayer was written in the first place to excercise the new ALSA (Advanced Linux Sound Architecture) driver and library system.


This cool feature allows you to completely customize your user interface. I.e. the core of AlsaPlayer is decoupled from the user interface. The default GTK2 interface is the best supported one. Among others, there is also a text only interface.


The program is very much plugin based. New file formats can be added simply by writing a new input plugin. The only requirement is that the data can be presented in PCM audio format.The following plugins are in various states of usability:

  • OGG vorbis plugin, works flawlessly, uses the ogg/vorbis libs
  • MPEG audio plugin, based on mpg123 0.59r, works quite well, being phased out however for:
  • MAD based audio plugin, based on the new MAD MPEG decoder library, uses a tiny bit more CPU, but has much better output quality then mpg123.
  • CDDA plugin, play back audio CD's by ripping the data digitally off the disk
  • MikMod plugin, play back all MikMod supported module formats, no random seeking in modules yet.
  • Audiofile library plugin, this one needs a bit of work still
  • FLAC (including OggFLAC) plugin with support for FLAC >= 1.3.


AlsaPlayer also uses a plugin system for outputting audio data. The output mechanism was designed with ALSA in mind of course. Many other Unix audio systems map quite well on to it however. Supported output plugins include:

  • ALSA, default plugin, best supported.
  • OSS and OSS/Lite
  • Esound
  • Sparc (tested on UltraSparc)
  • SGI
  • JACK,, this plugin is actually built-in since its differs radically from all the others. It is callback based. This is my preferred output method these days. The underlying audio driver is ALSA.


Just as input and output support gets loaded in dynamically, scope (or visualization) plugins are laoded in dynamically also. This enables anyone to develop a visualization plugin without changing a single line of code in the main program. A few scope plugins are provided in the main alsaplayer distribution:

  • Monoscope
  • Spacescope
  • Levelmeter
  • Blurscope
  • OpenGL spectrum
  • logFFtscope

Nothing stops you from writing a kick ass FULLSCREEN (DGA) or even a Hardwarde Accellerated OpenGL visualization plugin for AlsaPlayer!


Work in progress...


AlsaPlayer can be controlled from an external program. You only need to link your application against the supplied and in order to control AlsaPlayer from your own applications. Seeking, speed control and playlist advancement are only a few of the commands available to you. See the "examples" directory for sample implementations.


Installing AlsaPlayer from source should be as easy as executing the configure script and then make. The configure script will try to detect all input and output plugins for your system.

IMPORTANT: Make sure you run 'make install' after the compilation is finished. The various plugins need to be in a specific place on your system. If you don't want to install it on your system right away you can always use a different --prefix when running configure.


For target systems with low CPU and RAM ressources you can run configure with "CFLAGS=-DEMBEDDED". This reduces CPU and RAM usage but imposes the following limitations:

  • no mixing of streams; single-stream only
  • no software volume/pan (hardware volume/pan unaffected)
  • no effect plugins


Just fire up the executable. You can pass files to play on the command line too. These will be added to the queue while the first entry will start playing automatically. The CD like button hides the menu. All other controls should be straight forward. Improvements to the interface will follow soon.