How to Install and setup mpd + mpdscribble + ncmpcpp

This tutorial will guide you through the steps necessary to install mpd+ncmpcpp+mpdscribble on your Ubuntu-MATE 16.04 machine. The result is a fully functional (and fun to use) music playing environment for the console, capable of managing your music collection and playlists, complete with a tag editor and scrobbling features.

All of this with only a minimal amount of resources needed:

 $ sudo ps_mem | grep -P '(mpd|ncmpcpp)'
  1.0 MiB + 438.5 KiB =   1.4 MiB    mpdscribble
 18.3 MiB + 894.0 KiB =  19.2 MiB    ncmpcpp
 26.6 MiB +   3.0 MiB =  29.6 MiB    mpd


1. Install and setup mpd, the music player daemon ## 1. mpd

Our first order of business is to get the MPD (Music Player Daemon) up and running.

This daemon runs in the background and is responsible for maintaining the music collection and serving requests from multiple music player clients. We are going to perform a user-based configuration of mpd, meant to run on a machine where the music library is installed on the user $HOME directory.

###1.1. Prepare your Music Library

The mpd daemon requires that all your music collection resides in a single directory tree. You can have as many sub-directories as you which; perhaps you like to organize your collection in a artist/album directory structure. But the whole collection needs to be stored in a single top directory.

A common choice is the ~/Music directory that Ubuntu-MATE already has created for you. But you can put your collection anywhere, as long as the top directory is located inside your user HOME folder.

mpd needs to have read and execute access permission to your music collection. Since we are going to setup mpd to run with the user credentials, that means you must have read/execute access to it.

mpd will gladly follow symlinks if it has permission to their target locations. So if your collection is indeed partitioned between different directories and you don't want to unite everything under a single directory, you can add symlinks to those other directories from within your "main" music directory. All those directories contents will be added to your collection.

This tutorial will assume you chose ~/Music as your Music Collection directory. If you didn't just replace it with your own path where appropriate.

###1.2 Install mpd

We are going to use the version distributed on Ubuntu-MATE official repos.

$ sudo apt-get install mpd

###1.3 Setup mpd

The Ubuntu deb package you just installed doesn't do much for you, other than installing files. You have to configure mpd yourself. So let's get started.

Disable the mpd service
The deb package distributed by Canonical that you just installed, setups mpd both as a service and as a user application on your startup applications (which in fact it shouldn't). For our purposes, we want to execute mpd as user, so we don't need the service and should promptly disable it.

$ sudo service mpd stop
$ sudo systemctl disable mpd.service

We stopped the service and disabled it so mpd won't start on next boot. So, currently mpd is not running and that's exactly how we want it... for now.

Prepare the configuration directory
The mpd daemon respects the XDG Base Directory Specification and we are going to take advantage of it. This way we can avoid cluttering the HOME folder with yet another dot-directory, and instead have the mpd files neatly stored in the ~/.config directory and the data files on ~/.local/share.

Create the mpd config and data directories:

$ mkdir ~/.config/mpd
$ mkdir ~/.local/share/mpd

I'm a fan of the XDG specification. It helps organize the contents of $HOME and avoids cluttering it with dot-directories. Every time a program allows me, I make use of it. However, you may not like it yourself. Fear not. mpd will also look for its configuration file in ~/.mpd/. So if you prefer that, you can ignore those two lines above and just create this directory. If you do that, do not forget to change the directories names accordingly for the rest of this section.

Copy the sample configuration file
The mpd daemon looks for a configuration file called mpd.conf. When you installed mpd, a sample file was installed on /etc. We are going to copy it to our configuration directory.

$ gzip -dc /usr/share/doc/mpd/examples/mpdconf.example.gz > ~/.config/mpd/mpd.conf

I know. Doesn't look much like a copy command. But the file is stored in a compressed gzip format. All we are doing is decompressing it to the standard output (screen) and then redirecting that to a new file called mpd.conf.

###1.4 Configure mpd
It's time to configure the daemon by editing the configuration file we just copied, located at ~/.config/mpd/mpd.conf.

If you open the file in a text editor, you may be a little overwhelmed, despite the well documented file. But it's a rather simple process to configure mpd at this stage.

I'm going to show you what you absolutely need in this configuration file. But I encourage you to explore the comments on the whole file and change the other options to your liking. And the end of this section I'm posting my full configuration.

Files and Directories
This first section describes where mpd should look for the music collection and its own data files. You need the following setup:

music_directory     "~/Music"
playlist_directory  "~/Playlists"
db_file             "~/.local/share/mpd/mpd.db"
log_file            "~/.local/share/mpd/mpd.log"
pid_file            "~/.local/share/mpd/"
state_file          "~/.local/share/mpd/mpd.state"
sticker_file        "~/.local/share/mpd/sticker.sql"

You must create the ~/Playlists directory, if it doesn't exist yet. This is where your playlists will be stored. mpd uses the m3u format with relative or absolute path names.

Don't forget to make the appropriate corrections if you decided to use different directories.

Did you know: All the files stored in the .local/share directory, according to the XDG Specification are so-called data files. These are transient files that are important during program runtime, but not necessary for program execution. When doing backups of your home folder, you can generally ignore .local/share.

Host address
The mpd daemon can be accessed by its clients through a network-based connection or through a socket. The default configuration is sufficient and may remain unchanged. But we are going to make it more explicit by forcing connections only through your localhost.

bind_to_address        ""

We left the port number at its default of 6600, but changed the address mpd listens to to your localhost.

Input plugins
This input plugin allows mpd to download lyrics or fetch information about artists ot tracks . If you are behind a proxy, check the comments in the configuration file for how to setup the plugin.

input {
        plugin "curl"

Output configurations
We need to tell mpd what output plugins it will use. We want to use Pulse Audio for sound, and a FIFO output if we want to have a pretty music visualizer in ncmpcpp.

audio_output {
    type        "pulse"
    name        "pulse audio"

audio_output {
    type        "fifo"
    name        "mpd_fifo"
    path        "/tmp/mpd.fifo"
    format      "44100:16:2"

Full configuration
And that's it. If you wish, here's my full configuration file. You'll see there's not much more to it. I just set a couple more options.

music_directory     "~/Music"
playlist_directory  "~/Playlists"
db_file             "~/.local/share/mpd/mpd.db"
log_file            "~/.local/share/mpd/mpd.log"
pid_file            "~/.local/share/mpd/"
state_file          "~/.local/share/mpd/mpd.state"
sticker_file        "~/.local/share/mpd/sticker.sql"

bind_to_address     ""
log_level           "default"
restore_paused      "yes"
metadata_to_use     "artist,album,title,track,date"
auto_update         "yes"

input {
        plugin "curl"

audio_output {
    type        "pulse"
    name        "pulse audio"

audio_output {
    type        "fifo"
    name        "mpd_fifo"
    path        "/tmp/mpd.fifo"
    format      "44100:16:2"

###1.5 Run and test mpd

And, concerning mpd, we are done!
You can now execute it and check if everything is alright:

$ mpd

Looking at the log file should indicate everything is fine:

$ tail ~/.local/share/mpd/mpd.log

mpd is already set to autostart on boot, so you don't need to start it manually anymore. When you installed mpd, a new entry was added to your autorun applications. You can see it in your MATE panel menu, under System->Preferences->Personal->Startup Applications

2. Install and setup ncmpcpp, the music player client for mpd ##2. ncmpcpp Now that the daemon was installed and configured, it is time to setup its client.

ncmpcpp is the awkward name to a simple, but powerful, ncurses music client for the mpd daemon. It supports 256 color terminals and is highly configurable. It is through this program that you will be playing your songs, manage your playlists and even edit music file tags, if you so wish.

You are not limited to ncmpcpp. There are other mpd clients out there. You can see a list of them here, including full GUI clients like Sonata, Cantata or Ario. It's a long list.

###2.1. Install ncmpcpp
Like with the daemon, we are going to use Ubuntu-MATE repositories. Too easy...

$ sudo apt-get install ncmpcpp

###2.2. Setup ncmpcpp
ncmpcpp also supports the XDG Base Directory Specification, so we are going to set it up.

Prepare the configuration directory
We only need to set the configuration directory. ncmpcpp makes no use of data files with the exception of a log file that is really only useful for debugging purposes. We can keep that with the configuration files.

$ mkdir ~/.config/ncmpcpp

Copy the sample configuration file
The ncmpcpp music player looks for two configuration files, named config and bindings, for basic setup and key bindings configuration, respectively. Like before, we can copy to our configuration directory their sample files that have been installed for us in the /etc directory tree.

$ gzip -dc /usr/share/doc/ncmpcpp/config.gz > ~/.config/ncmpcpp/config
$ gzip -dc /usr/share/doc/ncmpcpp/bindings.gz > ~/.config/ncmpcpp/bindings

###2.3 Configure ncmpcpp

ncmpcpp is a graphical music player application (by graphical, I mean based on ncurses). It's configuration is largely a matter of user preference. The choice of colours and screen layouts are entirely subjective and not the matter of this tutorial.

I will be talking only about the mandatory configurations and let you decide for the rest. The configuration file is thoroughly documented within its comments and I encourage you to explore it. I will however show you my full configuration file at the end of this section (minus comment lines). And you can just copy/paste it if you so wish.

Files and directories
You will have to setup a few directory locations for ncmpcpp to look for and store files.

ncmpcpp_directory = ~/.config/ncmpcpp
lyrics_directory  = ~/Lyrics
mpd_music_dir     = ~/Music

ncmpcpp can download lyrics from the internet and store them locally for later retrieval. If ncmpcpp finds a file in the lyrics directory, it won't try to fetch it again when you open the lyrics pane.

The visualizer configuration
Back on the mpd daemon configuration, we set up a FIFO output. It is time to now configure ncmpcpp to make good use of it, by enabling it's pretty ascii visualizer.

visualizer_fifo_path = /tmp/mpd.fifo
visualizer_output_name = "mpd_fifo"
visualizer_in_stereo = yes
visualizer_sample_multiplier = 2
visualizer_sync_interval = 20

The multiplier at 2 seems to be good enough for quiet music and does not render badly loud music. Setting it to 3 worked even better at quiet music, but rendered loud music badly. You should test it yourself.

On my computer I had to lower the sync_interval to 20 to avoid some periodic micro-stuttering that I was experiencing. But I have a slow drive. You should probably be ok leaving this on the default 30.

Fail-safe options
A few options on the configuration file have sane values by default and protect your data. I'm showing the most important here anyways, so you don't make the mistake of blindingly changing it without understanding the consequences.

allow_for_physical_item_deletion = no

You really don't want to delete music files from within your music player. So make sure you leave that at no all the time.

Key bindings
ncmpcpp key bindings are defined in the ~/.config/ncmpcpp/bindings file. These are the defaults and you can simply delete this file if you never expect to change it. However, we need to add one important key binding to offset the fact its default value won't otherwise work.

The Help pane of ncmpcpp is especially useful to beginners of the application. It is by default accessed with the F1 key. This is not good on a terminal emulator. We are going to change it.

Add the following to the end of your bindings file:

def_key "9"

Now, to access the help pane you just need to hit the 9 key.

It may look like a strange choice to you. However, ncmpcpp panes are accessed by the keys 1 through 8. This just sets the help pane key at a more logical place in your keyboard. Change it to something else, if you don't like it, but inspect carefully the bindings file in search of duplicates.

Full configuration
And that's it, really. Those are the most important things you need to take care for in your ncmpcpp configuration file.

Configuring ncmpcpp can take you days of experimentation. There's a whole lot of options and the program is highly configurable. I encourage you to experiment and look on the Internet for other examples of configuration files. ncmpcpp is one of the linux applications with many examples available on the web on such places as reedit /r/unixporn channel, specialized dotfiles websites, on github dotfiles repositories and Deviantart.

Below is my full configuration file. You can use it as is, or adapt it to your needs. But I make use of 256 colors. So you need to make sure that in your ~/.bashrc file you have the following line:

if [ "$TERM" != screen-256color ]; then
    export TERM=xterm-256color

Did you know: Ubuntu-MATE already does this for you, and you should see the export line in ~/.bashrc. However I suggest you take the chance and replace it with those 3 lines. If one day you wish to install the tmux or screen multiplexers, your ~/.bashrc won't overwrite the $TERM variable that they need to operate properly under 256 colors.

ncmpcpp_directory = ~/.config/ncmpcpp
lyrics_directory = ~/Music          # lyrics saved in music dir, see store_lyrics_in_song_dir
mpd_music_dir = ~/Music

visualizer_fifo_path = /tmp/mpd.fifo
visualizer_output_name = "mpd_fifo"
visualizer_in_stereo = yes
visualizer_sample_multiplier = 2
visualizer_sync_interval = 30

playlist_disable_highlight_delay = 3
message_delay_time = 3

song_list_format = {%n  }{%t}|{%f}$R%l
song_status_format = {$(13)%a$(end): $(138)%t$(end){ from $(5)"%b"$(end)}}|{%f}
song_library_format = {%n - }{%t}|{%f}
alternative_header_first_line_format = ♪ $(138){%t}|{%f}$(end) ♪
alternative_header_second_line_format = $(13)%a$(end){ - %b{ (%y)}}

now_playing_prefix = $(138)
now_playing_suffix = $(end)
browser_playlist_prefix = "$(138)m3u:$(end) "
selected_item_prefix = $(13)
selected_item_suffix = $(end)
modified_item_prefix = $3> $9

browser_sort_mode = format
browser_sort_format = {{%a} {%y} {%b} {%n}|{%t}}|{%f}

song_columns_list_format = (6f)[]{lr: } (25)[]{a} (3f)[]{nE: } (40)[]{t|f:Title} (5f)[]{yE: } (35)[]{b}

playlist_shorten_total_times = yes
playlist_show_remaining_time = yes

playlist_display_mode = columns
browser_display_mode = columns
search_engine_display_mode = columns
playlist_editor_display_mode = columns

autocenter_mode = yes
centered_cursor = yes

progressbar_look = "․⨪ "
progressbar_boldness = no

default_place_to_search_in = database

user_interface = alternative

media_library_primary_tag = artist

default_find_mode = wrapped

header_text_scrolling = yes
cyclic_scrolling = no
lines_scrolled = 1

follow_now_playing_lyrics = yes
fetch_lyrics_for_current_song_in_background = no
store_lyrics_in_song_dir = yes

allow_for_physical_item_deletion = no

screen_switcher_mode = previous

jump_to_now_playing_song_at_start = yes

ask_before_clearing_playlists = yes

clock_display_seconds = no

display_volume_level = yes
display_bitrate = yes
display_remaining_time = no

regular_expressions = extended

ignore_leading_the = yes

block_search_constraints_change_if_items_found = yes

mouse_support = yes
mouse_list_scroll_whole_page = yes

media_library_sort_by_mtime = no

enable_window_title = yes

search_engine_default_search_mode = 1

external_editor = vim
use_console_editor = yes

colors_enabled = yes
empty_tag_color = 240
header_window_color = blue
volume_color = 13
state_line_color = blue
state_flags_color = 138
main_window_color = blue
color1 = blue
color2 = red
main_window_highlight_color = blue
progressbar_color = 234
progressbar_elapsed_color = blue
statusbar_color = 240
alternative_ui_separator_color = blue
active_column_color = 138

###2.4. Run and test ncmpcpp

Well, with everything configured it is time to give ncmpcpp a test run. All should go well.

$ ncmpcpp

If you don't know how to use ncmpcpp yet, once it starts, hit the 4 key on your keyboard and that will take you to the Media Library pane. Hit enter on any artist and it should be added to your playlist and start playing.

You can go back to the Playlist pane by hitting the 1 key. Also, don't forget, we bound the 9 key to the help pane, where you can learn more about the program usage.

3. Install and setup mpdscribble, the mpd scrobbler ##3. mpdscribble We are approaching the end of this tutorial. One last application needs to be installed. The mpdscribble daemon allows you to integrate scrobbling features with mpd. It can make use of your account at _last.fm_, _jamendo_ or _libre.fm_.

###3.1. Install mpdscribble
Just like with everything else we did on this tutorial, we are going to get mpdscribble from the Ubuntu-MATE repositories.

$ sudo apt-get install mpdscribble

###3.2 Setup mpdscribble
The setup and configuration of mpdscribble is rather simple and it won't take much time.

Disable the mpdscribble service
The mpdscribble daemon is installed as a service program. Just like with the mpd daemon, we don't want that since we want it to run as user.

$ sudo service mpdscribble stop
$ systemctl disable mpdscribble.service

We have stopped the service and disabled it so it won't run again on boot.

Add the mpdscribble daemon to your Startup Applications
We want for the mpdscribble daemon to start at boot. But as a user daemon that runs under the user credentials, not as a root service. We already took care of the latter by disabling the service. So now we just need to add it to our Startup Applications.

It doesn't really matter if the mpdscribble daemon starts before or after the mpd daemon. mpdscribble will keep trying to connect to mpd until it succeeds. The only thing that matters is that the mpd daemon is running when you start scrobbling. Since this only happens after you run the ncmpcpp player and start a song, that is pretty much guaranteed.


  1. Go to the MATE Panel menu at System->Preferences->Personal->Startup Applications
  2. On the Startup Programs pane, click the +Add button.
  3. On the name field you can write: MPD Scrobbler Daemon
  4. On the command field you can simply type: mpdscribble
  5. And on the description field you could perhaps write: Start mpdscribble on boot as user

And we are done here. Click on the +Add button to add this new entry and close the Startup Applications window.

Prepare the configuration directory
mpdscribble installation, like its friends, does not prepare anything for us. We have to manually set it up and configure it if we wish to run it as user.

The daemon does not support the XDG Base Directory Specification. It will look for its configuration file only on ~/.mpdscribble/mpdscribble.conf. So let's go ahead and create its configuration directory.

$ mkdir ~/.mpdscribble

Copy the sample configuration file
We can also bring into the configuration directory a sample configuration file from the /etc directory.

$ sudo cp /etc/mpdscribble.conf ~/.mpdscrible/
$ sudo chown $USER:$USER ~/.mpdscribble/mpdscribble.conf

We copied the sample configuration file and the second command gives us ownership over the copied file. The second command was necessary because we tried to copy a file from which we have no read access permission. So we had to use the sudo command. Because of this, the file was copied to our directory with root still as the owner and we wouldn't be able to edit it.

The mpdscribble daemon does not support the XDG Base Directory Specification, but the daemon can be started with the --conf option that allows us to specify a diferent configuration file location. For simplicity sake I'm not taking advantage of it at this stage. But in the last part of this tutorial, I'm going to show you a different way to start the whole suit of applications, without relying on Startup Applications. I will then take the opportunity and move everything to the .config folder and use the --conf option.

###3.3 Configure mpdscribble
We now just need to configure the mpdscribble daemon by editing the file we just copied.

The configuration file is rather simple compared to the two we have done before. So, I'll invert what I have been doing so far and show you a fully configured file contents first, and make any remarks after.

This is all you need to configure mpdscribble:
Assuming a linux user account named marfig, using a account under the name of mario.

log = /home/marfig/.mpdscribble/mpdscribble.log
verbose = 2

url =
username = mario
password = 748f1e...27
journal = /home/marfig/.mpdscribble/lastfm.journal

It's a good idea to enable logging for mpdscribble. The level 2 logging is ideal since it lets you know of any errors and also shows you the scrobble state of each file.

The service supports secure connections over https. But its very fickle and not always works. The sample file points to the scrobbler address at We are going to leave it as is, but once and a while keep checking this setting to see if its now fully working. You just need to change http to https.

Do not put your password on the config file
The mpdscribble daemon needs your password to connect to So you actually need to write something on the configuration file on the password field. Fortunately, the program doesn't expect your real password, only a MD5 hashed version of it.

To generate an md5 hash of your password, run the following command (by entering your real password between single quotes). Then copy the command output to the password field in the configuration file (an example output is also shown):

$ echo -n 'your_password' | md5sum | cut -f 1 -d " "

The mpdscribble daemon can cache your scrobbles when you are not online. It will dump the cache to when you connect to the internet. You specify where this cache is stored in the 'journal' field.

###3.4 Run and test mpdscribble
And that's it. With this we finish our music triumvirate.

To test the mpdscribble daemon, just start it (and also start mpd if it is not already).

$ mpdscribble

Execute ncmpcpp and start a song. On another terminal window type the following:

$ tail ~/.mpdscribble/mpdscribble.log

You should see something like this:

[] handshake successful
new song detected some_song_file, id: 45, pos: 1
[] sending 'now playing' notification
[] OK

The first line means you connected to just fine.
The second line tells you mpdscribble got a notification from mpd that a new song started.
The third line tell you mpdscribble sent this information to
The last line is response.

4. On-demand launch; an alternative way to start the whole suit ##4. On-demand launch; an alternative way to start the whole suit I don't start the _mpd_ and _mpdscribble_ at boot. Not always I am listening to music and I find it wasteful to have these daemons run on the background if I am not making use of them. Even if their total memory consumption is so low.

I'm going to show you, how I actually define the execution plan of mpd + mpdscribble + ncmpcpp. It is based on the simple principle that the two daemons should only start when I launch ncmpcpp to start listening to music.

###4.1. Remove or Disable the Startup Applications entries
We won't be starting mpd or mpdscribble at startup. So we want to disable or remove entirely their entries from the list of Startup Applications.

We can do that from the MATE Panel Menu at System -> Preferences -> Personal -> Startup Applications.

###4.2. Create an alias to launch the daemons when starting ncmpcpp
This is the bulk of what you need to do. We are going to create an alias with the same name of the ncmpcpp program, that inspects the current system and decides whether it should launch the daemons. I'm going to show the alias first, and talk about it next.

ncmpcpp() {
    if ! pidof "$(type -P mpd)" >/dev/null; then
        if type -P mpdscribble >/dev/null; then
            killall mpdscribble >&/dev/null
        $(type -P ncmpcpp) "[email protected]"
        $(type -P ncmpcpp) "[email protected]"

This code goes to the end of your ~/.bashrc file, or to wherever you are placing your aliases. If you notice, the ~/.bashrc file installed by Ubuntu-MATE has a line that looks something like the following somewhere towards the end of it:

# User alias definitions go into ~/.bash_aliases.
# See /usr/share/doc/bash-doc/examples in the bash-doc package.
if [ -f ~/.bash_aliases ]; then
    . ~/.bash_aliases

So you can create the ~./bash_aliases file and save the above alias there. It will be loaded by ~/.bashrc every time you open a new terminal. Or if you prefer, just place it at the end of the ~/.bashrc file.

What is the alias doing?
What the alias is doing is checking if mpd is already running. If it is not, then it launches it, and checks if mpdscribble is installed. If it is, kills any instance of mpdscribble that may be running and relaunches that too. Then it finally launches ncmpcpp.

But if mpd is already running, then it assumes mpdscribble is too and then just launches ncmpcpp.

ncmpcpp is being launched from the PATH, so there is no risk this alias clashes with the application name and gets you stuck in a loop calling itself over and over again when it tries to start the program ncmpcpp.

Why am I doing this
This way, the first time I start ncmpcpp, it will launch the two daemons for me before starting itself. I can start multiple instances of ncmpcpp, but only the first launches the daemons. So, I don't have my memory resources squandered by a couple of unused daemons (as light as they might be).

Note that I don't close the daemons when I stop using ncmpcpp. I can do this manually if I have to.

$ mpd --kill
$ killall mpdscribble

I prefer to do it manually, because while I like the idea of passing the control to start daemons to a script, I prefer to have manual control over when to stop them.

###4.3 Move mpdscribble to ~/.config
As I mentioned before I prefer the recommendations in the XGD Base Directory Specification than to have my $HOME firectory crowded with configuration files and directories. So every time a program supports it, I prefer to set its configuration directory inside ~/.config. We have been doing that on this tutorial.

The mpdscribble daemon was the exception because it doesn't support it. However it can be started with a -- conf option that lets you define the location of its configuration file. So we will now use it.

This is not mandatory. Just an optional addition to this already lengthy tutorial, to show you that under most circumstances you have quite a bit of control over how programs look for their files (when those programs are well designed).

Stop mpdscribble
We need to stop mpdscribble. It's as easy as killing it from the command line.

$ killall mpdscribble

mpdscribble will be gently killed. You can see this from its log file that will show it was gracefully shutdown.

Move the .mpdscribble directory inside ~/.config
We now just simply move the configuration directory inside ~/.config.

$ mv ~/.mpdscribble ~/.config/mpdscribble

Notice we also renamed it from .mpdscribble to mpdscribble. The ~/.config location doesn't require dot-directories.

Edit the configuration file
We need to make changes to the configuration file to account for the new location of the cache and log files.

So edit ~/.config/mpdscribble/mpdscribble.conf and change the log and journal entries to what you see (altering the user account name, of course).

log = /home/marfig/.config/mpdscribble/mpdscribble.log
journal = /home/marfig/.config/mpdscribble/lastfm.journal

Edit the alias to call the configuration file
So now we just need to edit the alias we created before to call this configuration file.

You want to change this line:


To this:

mpdscribble --conf "$HOME/.config/mpdscribble/mpdscribble.conf"

So now, when mpdscribble is started, it will look for its configuration file in its new place.

###4.4 Restart mpdscribble
And that's it. Start mpdscribble again and all should go well

$ mpdscribble



  • fixed: wrong information on mpdscribble HTPPS connection
  • added: information on mpd host address
  • fixed: small improvements to text


  • fixed: better ncmpcpp full configuration example

Tips and Tricks (or the joys of mpd)

In these replies to the tutorial, I'll be adding a few bits and pieces of information to help you get the most of the mpd daemon and ncmpcpp.

Control ncmpcpp playback with your keyboard media keys

One of the first things that may catch some users off guard is the fact that once they start using the mpd daemon with any of the console players (like ncmpcpp), their keyboard media keys do not work. ncmpcpp bindings configuration file does not understand these keys or their key codes, either. And neither it offers any command line options to control playback that we could bind to the Keyboard Shortcuts application that comes with most Desktop Environment like MATE.

Seems hopeless, but it is not.

1. Install mpc (Music Player Client), the companion player to mpd

mpc is a command line-only client to the mpd daemon. It can control all aspects of music playback and it is ideal for our purposes. It's small, simple and fast.

ncmpcpp gets all its playback information from to the mpd daemon. So, if we tell mpd to start playing a song with a command like mpc play, ncmpcpp will be informed too and update itself accordingly. It's a beautiful combination between mpd, mpc and ncmpcpp. And its is one of the reasons why music daemons are so great.

$ sudo apt-get install mpc

###2. Get to know the mpc playback commands
If you read mpc documentation (man mpc), you'll get all information you need to learn how to control music playback. But here are the relevant mpc commands we will be using:

  • mpc toggle (start playback if stopped or pause, and pause playback if playing)
  • mpc stop (stop playback)
  • mpc next (move to next song in playlist)
  • mpc prev (move to previous song in playlist)
  • mpc volume (increase or decrease volume)

###3. Get to know your keyboard media keys name
Your keyboard media keys have special names under X. The ones we are interested in, on the same order as the above list are:

  • XF86AudioPlay
  • XF86AudioStop
  • XF86AudioNext
  • XF86AudioPrev
  • XF86AudioRaiseVolume and XF86AudioLowerVolume

###4. Set your keyboard shortcuts
I think you already see where this is going and the rest of this tip is just using space. But nonetheless I'll go through the needed steps to configure your keyboard shortcuts

4.1. Start the Keyboard Shortcuts application
First you want to open the Keyboard Shortcuts window. You get to it through the Ubuntu-MATE panel menu at System -> Preferences -> Hardware -> Keyboard Shortcuts

In the window that opens you may already see the above keys configured to some other application; usually vlc or some other GUI music client.

The next operation will remove your default media keys configuration from the Keyboards Shortcuts and assign them to a new client. It's the price you pay; Ubuntu-MATE Keyboard Shortcuts doesn't allow you to assign the same key to different applications. So, if you don't want this to happen, stop now. But who needs another music client when you already have the best one in the whole world, ncmpcpp? If you agree, press on!

4.1. Add a new action
You just need to click the '+Add' button to add a new action that will be inserted to the end of the list under the Custom Shortcuts dropdown.

On the "name" field type something meaningful, like "MPD play/pause", or "MPD Toggle".
On the "command" field type the actual command to be issued. On this case, mpc toggle

4.3. Add the shortcut
Once you apply, the action will be added to your custom shortcuts list and you just need to now assign it a new shortcut.

This is as simple as clicking your new action under the Shortcut column. You'll see the text changes to New Shortcut.... Now hit the Play/Pause media key on your keyboard. And voilá!

4.4 The Volume shortcuts
The actual mpc command to control music volume is:

mpc volume +|- value

Volume in mpd is measured as a percentage, from 0% (total silence) to 100% (maximum volume). So a command like mpc volume +2 will increase the volume by 2%, while mpc volume -3 will decrease it by 3%. I have my own volume key shortcuts set to +2 and - 2.

That's it.

I trust you will not have any problems setting the rest of your keyboard configurations for music playback. Enjoy!

1 Like

Tips and Tricks (or the joys of mpd)

In these replies to the tutorial, I’ll be adding a few bits and pieces of information to help you get the most of the mpd daemon and ncmpcpp.

Display current song album art in Eye of MATE (or another image viewer)

The Ubuntu-MATE terminal, like all terminal emulators, cannot display images like the high-definition album cover art that many of us like to store with our music collection. So it is not possible for these image files to be displayed on the terminal. However, we can do it on eom (Eye of MATE) or any other Image Viewer you have installed on Ubuntu-MATE, like feh or eog.

In here I show you how you can display the current song album art in your image viewer. Essentially we are going to create a script that calls the image viewer and the bind it to a keyboard shortcut.

###1. Install mpc (Music Player Client), the companion player to mpd

mpc is a command line-only client to the mpd daemon. It’s small, simple and fast. It can also gather information from the currently playing song, something that ncmpcpp won’t do on the command line. Our script will make use of mpc to get the current song directory.

If you haven’t installed mpc on the previous post, do it now with:

$ sudo apt-get install mpc

###2. Create a script that takes care of calling the image viewer to display the image files in the same directory as the song currently playing.

The way I dealt with this was creating a script that calls an image viewer (by default, Eye of MATE) and displays any image files on the current song directory.

You can get the mpdcover bash script from this project page, along with its man page (instructions for installation are on the project Wiki). Alternatively, you can just copy/paste it from the code below.

#!/usr/bin/env bash
## MIT License
## Copyright (c) 2016 Mario Figueiredo
## Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy
## of this software and associated documentation files (the "Software"), to deal
## in the Software without restriction, including without limitation the rights
## to use, copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute, sublicense, and/or sell
## copies of the Software, and to permit persons to whom the Software is
## furnished to do so, subject to the following conditions:
## The above copyright notice and this permission notice shall be included in
## all copies or substantial portions of the Software.
#: ------------- --------------------------------------------------------------
#: Title        : mpdcover, display MPD current track cover art
#: Date         : 2016-08-29
#: Author       : "Mario Figueiredo" <[email protected]>
#: Contributors :
#: License      : MIT License
#: Version      : 1.0.0
#: Description  : Displays the cover art of the MPD daemon current track
#: Options      : see below
#: Dependencies : none
#: Requires     : mpd, mpc
#: ------------- --------------------------------------------------------------
#: Revisions    : 1.0.0 - initial version
#: ------------- --------------------------------------------------------------

version="mpdcover 1.0.0"

showhelp() {
    cat <<EOF
  mpdcover [OPTIONS] [DIR]

  Displays the cover art of the current track in the MPD (Music Player Daemon).

  DIR is the path to the MPD music library root directory, as defined in its
  music_directory variable. Defaults to \$HOME/Music.

            Print usage information and exit

  -i filepath
            Image Viewer to be used. Defaults to eom (Eye of MATE)

  -o 'options'
            Command line options to pass to the Image Viewer

            Print version number and exit

while getopts :hi:o:v opt; do
    case $opt in
        h)  showhelp; exit 0 ;;
        i)  if type -P "$OPTARG" >/dev/null; then
                echo "invalid viewer: $OPTARG" >&2
                exit 1
        o)  optargs="$OPTARG" ;;
        v)  printf '%s\n' "$version"; exit 0 ;;
        *)  showhelp >&2; exit 1 ;;

shift $((OPTIND -1))
(($# > 0)) && wdir="$1" || wdir="$HOME/Music"
#shellcheck disable=SC2015
[[ -d "$wdir" ]] && cd "$wdir" || { echo "invalid directory: $wdir" >&2; exit 1; }

type -P mpd >/dev/null && type -P mpc >/dev/null || exit 2
mpc >&/dev/null || exit 1

location=$(mpc -f '%file%' current)
[[ -n "$location" ]] && ${viewer:=eom} "$optargs" "${location%/*}" || exit 0

###3. Copy the script to a suitable location and make it executable

You will want to place the script on ~/bin if you wish for only you to have access to it, or on /usr/local/bin, if you wish for all users of this computer to be able to use it. I have mine installed on the latter directory.

Then you need to make it executable. If you placed it on ~/bin, you only need to:

$ chmod +x ~/bin/mpdcover

If instead you placed it on ~/usr/local/bin, then:

$ sudo chmod +x /usr/local/bin/mpdcover

###4. Test the script

To test the script you should now run ncmpcpp and start a song. The mpdcover script needs to be told where your music collection root directory is located. By default it assumes it’s located at ~/Music.

The following will start mpdcover with Eye of MATE (eom) as the image viewer and will assume your music collection is located at ~/Music:

$ mpdcover

The following with tell mpdcover the music collection is located at /media/marfig/Musicpen/:

$ mpdcover /media/marfig/Musicpen/

If you use a different image viewer, just run mpdcover with the -i option. For instance, if you wish to use feh, just type mpdcover -i feh. You can also pass command line options to the image viewer with the -o option. See the script manual page if you installed it from the project page I linked above. If instead you just copied/paste it, you can read the script documentation here.

Note: The image viewer will only show if there is a song playing or paused. If the player is stopped, or the mpd daemon is not running, mpdcover will not launch the image viewer.

###5. Create a keyboard shortcut to call the script.

Instead of calling the script manually, we can just create a keyboard shortcut that helps us avoid having to start a terminal. It’s much more convenient.

Follow the instructions on the previous post on how to create terminal shortcuts on Ubuntu-MATE. I personally use CTRL+ALT+I to call the mpdcover script.

1 Like

Well 6 years later here I am still(!) referring to your tutorial which stood pretty well over the time.
So kudos and thank you for that!

If I may, I would have suggestions:

  1. In your first post under changelog: "HTPPS" should read "HTTPS" I believe:
  2. Both the Github URLs are 404. Luckily the project also seems to have evolved: GitHub - ochurlaud/mpdcoverserver: A server that serve covers from music files

Now on to the original reason of why I am posting this is that, for me, mpd never worked natively on any of my UM systems and always spewed back le "status=17".

Such as this:

Aaaand this:

$ mpc play
Artist - Track
[paused]  #7/15954   0:18/1:43 (17%)
volume: n/a   repeat: off   random: off   single: off   consume: off
ERROR: Failed to enable output "default detected output" (jack); Failed to connect to JACK server, status=17

Since today was a Saturday of a waning moon then I thought impressively that this would be the perfect moment of glory for me to tame mpd. Being in such high spirits I managed to find what then seemed like the only ever existing reference to this problem(plus dating from last month!1!!): [Solved]Debian 11 MPD output fails - Debian User Forums. Yet that [Solved] implied the user made the switch to Cinnamon.

Now since we´re in MATE territory around here I thought that was pretty sad and that the History needs to be written for us "MATEeins" hence me doing some necro-threading.