The Complete Guide to Rhythmbox

Get to know one of the top open source music players

Linux distribution is only as good as the sum of its parts, and beyond the installation and the desktop environment, it is ultimately the applications that matter.

Rhythmbox is one of the best audio players available for the Linux desktop and this guide shows you all of the features that it has to offer. Rhythmbox includes features from the obvious, like the ability to import music and create playlists, to the unique, like the ability to set Rhythmbox up as a digital audio server.

Importing Music Into Rhythmbox From a Folder on Your Computer

Import Music Into Rhythmbox
Import Music Into Rhythmbox.

In order to use Rhythmbox, you will need to create a music library.

You may have music stored in various different formats. If you have already converted all of your CDs into MP3 format then the easiest way to get music to play in Rhythmbox is to import it from a folder on your computer.

  1. To do this, press Import.

  2. Press the Select a location dropdown, and choose a folder on your computer that contains music.

  3. The bottom window should now fill up with tunes. Rhythmbox is set up to play most ​audio formats, including MP3, WAV, OGG, FLAC, etc.

  4. You can now either press Import All Music to import all of the audio files, or you can select the files you wish to select with the mouse.

Hold down the shift key and drag with the mouse to select multiple files grouped together or hold down the CTRL and click with the mouse to select multiple files spaced apart.

Importing Music Into Rhythmbox From a CD

Import Music From CD Into Rhythmbox
Import Music From CD Into Rhythmbox.

Rhythmbox lets you import audio from CDs into your music folder.

  1. Insert a CD into the tray. From within Rhythmbox, press Import. Choose the CD drive from the Select a location dropdown.

  2. A list of songs from the CD should be generated, and you can extract them straight into your music folder by pressing Extract.

  3. Note that the default file format is "OGG." To change the file format to "MP3," you need to open Preferences from the menu. Then, select the Music tab. Change the preferred format to "MP3."

  4. The first time you try and extract to MP3 you might receive an error stating that software needs to be installed to be able to convert to that format. Accept the install and when asked search for the MP3 plugin. Finally, follow the instructions to install the ​GStreamer Ugly package.

  5. The files will now be imported to your music folder and automatically made available to be played by Rhythmbox.

How to Import Music From an FTP Site Into Rhythmbox

Import From FTP Site Into Rhythmbox
Import From FTP Site Into Rhythmbox.

If you are running Rhythmbox in a communal place where there is an FTP server containing music, you can import that music from the FTP site into Rhythmbox.

  1. This guide assumes you are using GNOME as a desktop environment. Open Nautilus, and choose Files - Connect To Server from the menu.

  2. Enter the FTP address, and when ​asked, enter the password. (Unless it is anonymous, in which case you shouldn't need a password).

  3. Switch back to Rhythmbox, and press Import. Now, from the "Select a location" dropdown, you should see the FTP site as an option.

  4. Import the files in the same way you would a folder local to your computer.

Using Rhythmbox as a DAAP Client

Using Rhythmbox As A DAAP Client
Using Rhythmbox As A DAAP Client.

DAAP stands for Digital Audio Access Protocol, which basically provides a method for serving music to different devices.

For instance, you can set up one computer as a DAAP server and every other device on a network running a DAAP client will be able to play music from that server.

This means you can set up a computer as a DAAP server and play music from that server on an Android phone or tablet, a Windows PC, a Windows phone, a Chromebook, an iPad, iPhone, and a MacBook.

Rhythmbox can be used on Linux based computers as a DAAP client. All you need to do is select the plus icon in the bottom left corner of the screen and choose Connect to DAAP share.

Simply enter the IP address for the DAAP share and the folder will be listed under the "Shared" heading.

You will now be able to play all of the songs on the DAAP server on your Linux computer.

iTunes can be used as a DAAP server so you can share music in iTunes with your Linux computer.

Creating Playlists With Rhythmbox

Creating Playlists With Rhythmbox
Creating Playlists With Rhythmbox.

There are a number of ways to create and add music to playlists within Rhythmbox.

  1. The easiest way to create a playlist is to press the plus symbol, and select New Playlist from the menu. You can then enter a name for the playlist.

  2. To add tracks to the playlist select Music within the "Library," and find the files you want to add to the playlist.

  3. Right-click on the files, and choose Add To Playlist. Then, select the playlist to add the files to. You can also choose to add a new playlist which is, of course, another way to create a new playlist.

Create an Automatic Playlist in Rhythmbox

Create An Automatic Rhythmbox Playlist
Create An Automatic Rhythmbox Playlist.

There is a second kind of playlist that you can create called an automatic playlist.

  1. To create an automatic playlist, select the plus symbol in the bottom left corner. Now, press New automatic playlist.

  2. The automatic playlist lets you create a playlist by selecting basic criteria such as selecting all songs with a title with the word "love" in it or choosing all songs with a bitrate faster than 160 beats per minute.

  3. You can mix and match the criteria options to narrow down the criteria, and choose just the songs you require.

  4. It is also possible to limit the number of songs that are created as part of the playlist or the length of time that the playlist will last.

Create an Audio CD From Within Rhythmbox

Create An Audio CD From Rhythmbox
Create An Audio CD From Rhythmbox.

It is possible to create an audio CD from within Rhythmbox.

  1. Press the gear icon in the upper right of the screen. Then, choose Plugins from the menu.

  2. In the plugins window, make sure the Audio CD Recorder is selected. You will also need to make sure Brasero is installed on your system.

  3. To create an audio CD, select a playlist, and press Create Audio CD.

  4. A list of songs will appear in a window and if the songs fit on the CD you can burn the CD otherwise a message will appear stating that there isn't enough space. You can burn over multiple CDs though.

  5. If you want to just burn one CD and there are too many songs, select some songs for removal, and press the minus symbol to remove them.

  6. When you are ready, press Burn to create the CD

A Look at Rhythmbox Plugins

Rhythmbox Plugins
Rhythmbox Plugins.
  1. Select Plugins from the Rhythmbox menu, indicated by the gear icon in the upper right of your screen..

  2. There are a number of plugins available such as a context menu pane showing details of the artist, album and song.

  3. Other plugins include "cover art search" which looks for album covers to be displayed alongside the song being played, "DAAP music sharing" to turn Rhythmbox into a DAAP server, "FM Radio support", "Portable Players Support" to enable you to use MTP devices and iPods with Rhythmbox.

  4. Further plugins include "Song Lyrics" for displaying song lyrics for played songs and "send tracks" to let you send songs via email.

  5. There are dozens of plugins available that extend the features within Rhythmbox.

Show the Lyrics for Songs Within Rhythmbox

Show Lyrics Within Rhythmbox
Show Lyrics Within Rhythmbox.

You can show the lyrics for the song that is being played by selecting plugins from the Rhythmbox menu.

  1. Make sure the Song Lyrics plugin has a check in the box, and press Close.

  2. From the Rhythmbox menu, select View, followed by Song Lyrics.

Listen to Internet Radio Within Rhythmbox

Internet Radio Within Rhythmbox
Internet Radio Within Rhythmbox.

  1. You can listen to online radio stations within Rhythmbox. To do so, select Radio within the Library pane.

  2. A list of radio stations will appear in various categories from Ambient to Underground. Select the radio station you wish to listen to, and select the play icon.

  3. If the radio station you wish to listen to doesn't appear press Add, and enter the URL to the radio station's feed.

  4. To change the genre, right-click on the radio station and choose properties. Choose the genre from the dropdown list.

Listen to Podcasts Within Rhythmbox

Listen To Podcasts Within Rhythmbox
Listen To Podcasts Within Rhythmbox.

You can also listen to your favorite podcasts within Rhythmbox.

  1. To find a podcast, select the podcasts link within the library. Search for the type of podcast you wish to listen to by entering the text into the search box.

  2. When the list of podcasts are returned, select the ones you wish to subscribe to, and press subscribe.

  3. Press Close to reveal the list of podcasts that you are subscribed to along with any episodes that are available.

Turn Your Desktop Computer Into an Audio Server Using Rhythmbox

Turn Your Desktop Computer Into A DAAP Server
Turn Your Desktop Computer Into A DAAP Server.

Earlier on in this guide you were shown how to use Rhythmbox to connect to a DAAP server as a client.

Rhythmbox can also become the DAAP server.

Open the Rhythmbox menu, and select plugins. Make sure the DAAP Music Sharing item has a check in the box, and press Close.

Now you will be able to connect to your music library from your Android tablets, iPods, iPads, other tablets, Windows computers and of course other Linux based computers including Google Chromebooks.