README for Plaiter v 1.4.2
Plaiter (pronounced "player") is a command line front end to command line music players. It uses shell scripting to try to create the command line music player that Plait would have used if it already existed. It complements Plait but is also quite useful on its own, especially if you already use mpg123 or similar programs and find yourself wanting more features.
What does Plaiter do that mpg123 can't already? It queues tracks, first of all. Secondly, it understands commands like play, plause, stop, next and prev. Finally, unlike most of the command line music players out there, Plaiter can handle a play list with more than one type of audio file, selecting the proper helper app to handle each type of file you throw at it.
Plaiter will automatically configure itself to use ogg123, mpg123, and/or mpg321, if they are installed on your system. If you have a helper application that plays other types of audio, Plaiter can be configured to use it as well.
Like many of us, Plaiter is part daemon and part controller. The controller builds a play list from the files you provide on the command line and forwards commands to the daemon. The daemon reads commands and executes them by running helper applications.
0.1. What's new
Release 1.4.2 fixes a security flaw related to temp files. Upgrading is highly recommended.
1. Playing music
The simplest way to use Plaiter is to invoke it with a list of music you want to play, for example
plaiter foo.mp3 bar.ogg baz.flac
Plaiter also understands directories as arguments, in which case it tries to play every file in the directory. If some of the files are not music files, that's all right because Plaiter will discover it doesn't have a helper application for that type of file and skip it. An example would be
plaiter "/music/Disco Hits of the 70s"
Plaiter also understands play lists, for example,
It is the .m3u extension which identifies a file as a play list and nothing else will be treated as a play list. Plaiter does not currently understand directories of play lists, but you can use shell globbing to get the same effect, for example
The shell will expand this to a list of play lists, which Plaiter does understand. You can also use globbing to expand a directory that contains a combination of play lists and music files.
When you invoke Plaiter in this way it runs in controller mode, which is not capable of actually playing music. Behind the scenes the controller will start another instance of Plaiter in daemon mode, if one is not running already, and forward commands to it.
2. Sending commands
A variety of commands are available to control the daemon. You specify a command as a two dash option, for example
The seven basic commands are: play, pause, stop, next, prev, reset and quit. They do pretty much what you would expect. Reset sets the current track to 1 and starts playing. It is the command that Plaiter sends automatically whenever it creates a new play list.
Next and prev take optional numeric arguments that specify how many tracks to skip, counting the current track. The default is one.
There is a search command that provides a search-in-playlist feature. For example,
plaiter --search fly
looks for a track that contains the string "fly" and plays it if found. Search proceeds forwards from the current track until the first match is found, wrapping at the end of the playlist. If no match is found the current track continues playing. The search string can be a regular expression.
There is also an rsearch command that does reverse search. It proceeds backwards from the current track until the first match is found, wrapping at the beginning of the list. For example,
plaiter --rsearch one
The loop command toggles or sets loop mode. When loop mode is on and the end of the playlist is reached, play continues on the first track. When loop mode is off and the end of the playlist is reached, play stops. Loop mode also affects the behavior of the next and prev commands. The loop command looks like this:
plaiter --loop plaiter --loop on plaiter --loop off
The latch command toggles or sets a latch which will cause playback to stop when the current track ends. The latch command looks like this:
plaiter --latch plaiter --latch on plaiter --latch off
This option just prints basic information about what Plaiter is doing: the number of tracks in the playlist, the current track, and whether Plaiter is playing, paused, or stopped.
This option displays the playlist.
The --random option shuffles the playlist as it is added. Thus if you use it with the --queue option, only the new tracks are shuffled.
--queue, -q, --enqueue
The --queue option causes tracks to be queued on an existing playlist rather than replacing it. --enqueue is for compatibility with players like BMP, amaroK, and XMMS.
The --daemon option selects daemon mode. See the next section.
This option shows brief help.
This option shows information about the version, the license, and the author.
--play, --pause, --stop, --next, --prev, --reset, --quit
These commands are forwarded to the daemon.
--loop, --search, --rsearch, --latch
These commands are forwarded to the daemon.
This option rewrites the helper file. See Section 5.
4. Daemon mode
The Plaiter daemon will be started for you automatically if necessary, but there are times when you may want to start it manually. Why is that? Well, the Plaiter daemon (and the helper applications it calls) tend to be quite verbose, so the controller discards their output. If you want to see the output, you can dedicate a separate console to this purpose. This gives you a nice clean command line interface to Plaiter in the main console, with complete information, including the current track, in the daemon console.
You start Plaiter in daemon mode by typing
The proper way to kill the daemon is to send it the command "quit" or
type Ctrl-c in its console. If you
kill -9 it, the daemon will not
get a chance to clean up after itself. You can do this manually by
rm -f ~/.plait/pdaemon
If you don't, Plaiter will try to clean up the next time it runs.
5. Helper applications
Plaiter stores a list of file types and associated helper applications in ~/.plait/helpers. This file will be created automatically the first time Plaiter is run, but you can edit it to select the helper applications you prefer. If you don't edit it, Plaiter will look for ogg123, mpg123-esd, mpg123, and mpg321. If it is present on your system, ogg123 will be associated with ogg files, flac files, and ogg streams. For mp3 files, mp3 streams, and all streams whose type can't be identified from the URL, mpg123-esd will be chosen if present, then mpg123, then mpg321.
Each line of ~/.plait/helpers consists of a "key" and a helper, separated by a colon, for example
The key corresponding to a file is just the file suffix. For http streams it's a little more complicated. A URL with no particular file suffix, like http://192.168.1.2:80, will have the key "http". Plaiter assumes that streams like this can be played by mpg123. If the URL has an mp3 or ogg suffix, that is included in the key, so the key for http://192.168.1.2:80/stream.ogg would be "httpogg". Plaiter assumes that ogg123 can play a stream like this.
Adding your own helper applications is just a matter of following these rules to create an appropriate key, followed by a colon, followed by the command line required to play that type of file.
If you want Plaiter to configure itself automatically, you should install the helper applications before running it for the first time. If you didn't do that, you can run
to force Plaiter to detect helper applications and write the helper file again.
6. Odds and ends
Plaiter requires Bash. It uses standard versions of basic commands including find, awk and sed and should be compatible with most versions of Unix. It requires a wake up call when the signal SIGCHLD is received, which seems to rule out Cygwin for now. That's all right because Cygwin users have Winamp.
7. What's next
It's not known at this time what features will be in the next release.
Copyright (c) 2005, 2006 by Stephen Jungels