cmus – free terminal-based audio player

Last Updated on August 11, 2021

It took me a few years to appreciate console-based software. Repairing a broken system using the ubiquitous vi text editor was a turning point in my Linux journey. Now I spend a lot of time at the terminal, and listening to music. Best combine the two!

When it comes to console-based music software, I really admire musikcube, a wonderful audio engine, library, player and server written in C++.

This review looks at an alternative to musikcube. It’s called cmus. It shares many similarities with musikcube. Both are designed to run on a text-only user interface, reducing the resources required to run the application.

cmus is written in C.


cmus is supported by most popular Linux distributions. But often packages provided by Linux distributions lag behind the latest code developments. Sometimes important features have been added or bugs fixed. I always prefer bleeding edge software. If you’re like me, you’ll probably want to clone the project’s master branch, and install the software. At a shell:

$ git clone
$ cd cmus
$ ./configure prefix=$HOME/cmus
$ make install
$ echo 'export PATH=$HOME/cmus/bin:$PATH' >> ~/.bashrc ; . ~/.bashrc

The last command adds the installation to your PATH, so you don’t have to specify the directory when starting the program.

Next page: Page 2 – In Operation

Pages in this article:
Page 1 – Introduction / Installation
Page 2 – In Operation
Page 3 – Views
Page 4 – Other Features & Memory Usage
Page 5 – Summary

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