Mp3blaster: An Awesome Music Player for the Terminal

Mp3blaster Feature

Have you accidentally killed X Window? Has work stuck you with a boring non-graphical server? Fear not! Fresh out of 1997, Mp3blaster can drown out your misery! Sporting a handy semi-GUI interface, Mp3blaster provides an easy-to-use music player that runs in your terminal.


Mp3blaster should be in most repositories. If you prefer to install by terminal (and most Mp3blaster users will!) and are using Debian or Ubuntu, enter:

sudo apt install mp3blaster

For Fedora, Red Hat, or CentOS systems, enter:

sudo dnf install mp3blaster

And for Arch or Arch-based distros like Manjaro, enter:

sudo pacman -S mp3blaster

Once installed, start the application with the command:


Getting Started

Just after opening Mp3blaster, its main window will be empty, as it’s in playlist mode without any added songs.

Mp3blaster Opening Screen

You can get started by pressing F1 for Select Files. This lets you browse your hard drive, starting in your home directory, using the Up and Down keys to scroll through folders. Enter selects files and enter folders.

Anything Mp3blaster can play will be colored green, and any file format it doesn’t recognize will be colored white. As we have demonstrated in the screenshot below, MP3, OGG, and WAV files are all green, but Flac and WMA files (which are unsupported) display as white.

Mp3blaster Filetypes

If you have any M3U playlist files, these can be used by Mp3blaster and will be colored orange.

If all you want to do is play audio files one at a time, then this is enough to get you going. Just press Enter on a file, and it will play. Mp3blaster won’t move on to the next song in your folder – the track will simply stop playing.

If you look the bottom right of the screen, the play controls are spread across the number keys 1 tthrough 6. 5 is the Play/Pause button, and 2 is Stop. 1 and 3 will rewind and fast forward, and 4 and 6 will skip tracks (not something of use while you’re in single-track mode).

To learn more keyboard functions, press the + and – keys, and you can scroll through the information panel at the top of the window.

Making Playlists

Playing single files is easy, but making playlists is where things can get a bit wacky. If you already have M3U playlist files, then you can simply open those. To make a playlist while you’re still in file-browsing mode, press Space on any files you want to add, then press F1 to add them to your playlist.

Mp3blaster Select Files

Mp3blaster will switch over to the playlist mode at this point, showing you all the files that have been added.

Mp3blaster First Playlist

Press F1 to return to file browsing mode where you can keep adding files. If you want to add all the files in a directory, press F3. When you’re finished adding files, switch back to playlist mode by pressing F1. If you’re comfortable with how the controls work, press F4 to save your playlist.

Mp3blaster Save Playlist

F7 will shuffle your play order, and F6 will repeat the playlist when it has finished.

We did find a few bugs along the way. For starters, the playlist function prefers to use the Play/Pause button (5) to get going rather than starting with Enter. When you select a track with Enter, the skip track buttons won’t work properly, and the track stops. In fact, if you want to skip tracks, you have to wait until the current track finishes (that, or fast forward through it). On any subsequent tracks, the skip buttons work fine.

Mp3blaster Playlist Running

Although it has been retained in software repositories since the ’90s, some of the functions in the menu no longer seem to work, most notably the mixer function. (It was written in the days before ALSA or Pulse Audio.) If you need software volume controls and want to mix from the terminal, you might want to try something like alsamixer in another console.

Neverthless, Mp3blaster is a great program overall that feels great to use and may still run on something like a 486. If you’re trying to find speed by using minimalist apps, then it doesn’t get much more minimalist than this! The semi-GUI interface also means that you don’t have to be a hacker to use it, even if you might look like one to your friends.

That takes care of music, but what about playing games and managing your tasks in the terminal?

John Knight

John Knight is a writer, most notably for Linux Format (UK), Linux Journal (US), and Maximum PC (US). Outside of open source and general computing material, John has also written for automotive publications, and is currently writing material on vintage gaming and drumming. Other areas of interest include Psychology, French, and Japanese.

Subscribe to our newsletter!

Our latest tutorials delivered straight to your inbox