Recording Audio & Playing Encrypted DVD's

Sound problems will generally be corrected with the installation of pavucontrol. If pavucontrol doesn't immediately work, then check Synaptic to make sure pulseaudio, pulseaudio-utils and libgtk-3-0 are installed. With an audio player playing something that you know makes sound, simply try the available choices offered by PulseAudio Volume Control until your sound hopefully becomes functional.


Perhaps not so well known is VLC player can record and save streaming audio and video, albeit, the set-up is rather hidden. First, you will need the URL of the stream. One way to get it is to go to the station's website and play the audio output on VLC. Right Click the station title on the VLC playlist and select Information. Copy the station URL from the ensuing information.

The procedure to set-up recording is as follows (see photos):

The VLC convert tool also applies to changing the file type for any audio and video file recognized by vlc, which is just about everything when the proper codecs are installed. Follow the 5 steps above replacing step 2 with "click convert". Leave the "Display the output" box unchecked and check "start". When the file shows in the output directory, the conversion is complete. The only fault with using VLC as a recorder is the time required to set-up the recorder. If you are using a radio stream, the desired audio may be playing by the time you get to clicking start. [Addendum: Recent versions (2.2.1 +) include a red record button on the vlc interface, which allows instant recording of whatever is playing.]

Another excellent recorder for streaming radio is streamripper, which by itself is a terminal application. Streamripper can be installed from synaptic or by using sudo apt-get install streamripper. To rip online audio put

   streamripper url-of-stream

into the terminal and press enter.

Several front-end GUI's are available for Streamripper. The one I like is streamtastic, which is java based but still fairly light. I like streamtastic because any station whose broadcast URL is known can be easily added to the playlist (see the photo). Once added, it is automatically saved. Double-clicking a station will play that station using your associated audio player, which can be set-up in Preferences. Clicking the red record button at the bottom starts the recording which will be automatically saved in the directory that you designate in Preferences. Thus, streamtastic is not only a recorder GUI but also works as a radio menu. It can be added to any of the main menus by using exec=java -jar ~/bin/Streamtastic.jar, provided you put Streamtastic.jar in ~/bin. Streamtastic - simple, functional, reliable and quick!

sox submenu
sox menu

Sox (Sound eXchange) is an excellent terminal audio editor and recorder. It has the advantage over vlc and Streamtastic in that it can record sound regardless of source. It is very easy to set-up a menu launcher for just recording purposes. The image on the left shows my entry in an Openbox Root Menu that produces the menu pictured on the right. It is set for 5 recording modes based upon recording time: 1 hour, 2 hours, 3 hours, unlimited hours, until 2 seconds of silence occurs. Of course, you can change these numbers to any other time intervals that you may desire. The commands are set to save the recordings in ~/Music as a .flac file. A name scheme for recorded files is a bit of a challenge, because if a fixed name is stipulated and you do multiple recordings each recording will overwrite the previous one, since they will be given the same name. So to reduce the chances of an overwrite, I assigned as name an integer randomly chosen from 1 - 10,000: $(shuf -i 1-10000 -n 1). To get a unique name, you could use a date name designation: $(date +%Y-%m-%d_%H-%M-%S), but these are clumsily long.

Sometimes, especially with older CD's, audio players cannot find where to go to play it. The file browser may show the CD contents in /Media/cdrom but the audio player won't play it, because the version it needs is in another directory. To find it with VLC player, first try the playlist skin of VLC (click the appropriate icon on the bottom of the regular VLC skin). Click Devices>Discs. If CD is on the list, right click it and choose "play". If it isn't there, then go back to the regular VLC skin and follow the path Media>Open Disc. Check "Audio CD" and choose a track other than 0. Then, click the drop-down arrow associated with "Disc devise" and choose one of the listed directories and then click "play." Repeat until you find the directory containing the CD audio. The most likely candidate is /dev/sr0, so try it first. This will only play the chosen track. If you want to play without interruption the complete CD, then go back to playlist>Devices>Discs. The CD should be now on the list.

Sound Juicer is an excellent Linux app for ripping CD audio. Not so well known is that it is also an excellent audio player that seems to be able to always find the CD regardless of where it is mounted. A good alternate to VLC for video playing is mpv, an offshoot of mplayer2 and mplayer.

Computer alert sounds can be turned off by changing the two iNet entries in ~/.config/lxsession/LXDE/desktop.conf from 1 to 0, provided you have this file.

Playing Encripted Dvd's

Playing encrypted DVD's requires the installation of libdvdread4 and libdvdcss2, which are not in the Debian repositories, but are in the Sparky Testing Repositories. So to install from the Sparky repositories:

sudo apt-get install libdvdread4 libdvdcss2 libdvd-pkg libdvdnav4 libdvdcss-dev.

After installing these packages, do

sudo dpkg-reconfigure libdvd-pkg.