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MP3 players for Linux

MPEG layer 3 is an extremely compact and high quality method to store audio. You can get near CD quality at 12x compression. There are a number of MP3 players that are available for Linux. The maximum rating is 5 stars.

1. x11amp

Name: x11amp
Rating: ****(*)
Download: 50 seconds with a 28.8 modem
Author: psy, fatal and Crocodile
Web Page:


This is an extremely nice graphical MP3 player. The program is very easy to install, with an rpm (for RedHat) provided. Its console is almost an exact copy of the WinAMP MP3 player that runs under Windows. The main features are the Spectrum analyzer and a Play list editor, although the choice of colours for the play list editor is bizarre to say the least. At the time of writing the program is still in beta release with some of buttons not yet implemented. Documentation consists of a simple README.

This program runs much better with root privileges which ensure that the audio is unbroken, although this may me a security risk. On slow Pentium systems it doesn't run very well without super-user privileges. Overall, an excellent MP3 player.

2. Sajber Jukebox

Name: Sajber Jukebox
Rating: ****
Download: 5 minutes with a 28.8 modem
Author: Joel Lindholm
Web Page:
Other Info: Requires the Qt and linuxThreads libraries

This is another excellent MP3 player for Linux. Unlike the x11amp player there is currently no RPM provided at the web site, and installing the program is harder partly because the program needs the Qt and linuxThreads libraries installed. However, Sajber Jukebox sports an attractive interface with an excellent browser. Notably it can stream mp3's directly of web pages, and is easy to configure. On the downside the Jukebox is less efficient at the actual decoding of MP3 with the included sajberplay. However support is provided to use another player such as mpg123. Memory requirements are also higher than x11amp. Nevertheless this is a worthwhile download, and only slightly behind x11amp.

3. tk3play

Name: tk3play
Rating: ***
Download: 4 minutes with a 28.8 modem
Author: Brian Foutz
Web Page:
Other Info: Requires the Tcl and Tk libraries

This is another graphical MP3 player for Linux. Unlike the other graphical players it requires the Tcl and Tk libraries installed. The console of tk3play, modelled on the Windows program WinPlay3, is simplistic but functional. The play list is quite nicely done, and the main panel conveys some useful information. This is a front-end to the excellent mpg123 command-line player. There are other graphical front-ends to mpg123 but this is probably the best of them. See the review of mpg123 below. tk3play is not up to the standard of x11amp and the Sajber Jukebox, but its memory requirements are less than the Jukebox.

4. mpg123

This is a command-line mp3 player which is used as the engine for some of the graphical front-end players that have been reviewed above. One of the major advantages text based players have is that more memory can be allocated to buffering as there is no GUI overhead.

Name: mpg123
Rating: ****
Download: 3 minutes with a 28.8 modem
Author: Michael Hipp
Web Page:

This command-line player is used as the decoder in a number of graphical interfaces, mainly because it is very efficient. Like many command line based Linux programs mpg123 has a large list of options that can be specified; these include setting an output buffer, down-sampling, mixer settings, HTTP streaming off web pages, play lists via ASCII files etc

mpg123 is a very handy player to have and is heartily recommended.

5. splay

This is also a command-line mp3 player, although there is an X version available as well. One of the major advantages text based players have is that more memory can be allocated to buffering as there is no GUI overhead. splay is not lacking in options either, with support for shuffle play, repeat, streaming over the net.

Name: splay
Rating: ***(*)
Download: 1 minute with a 28.8 modem
Author: Woo-jae Jung
Web Page:

In recent versions mpg123 has overtaken splay as the de-facto command-line mp3 player, mainly as it's more efficient at the decoding of mp3 files. splay is still a handy tool as it can play Wave files as well, and comes with an X-interface using the excellent Qt library. Like mpg123 it's available as a RPM for easy installation on Red Hat and Caldera distributions.

Other MP3 players

Other MP3 players that are available for Linux include gmp3, a front-end to the mpg123 decoder that uses the GTK library, Kmp3, an ncurses front-end, and xmp3player. These players are still in their early stages of development, and will be reviewed when they are less 'alpha'.

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