Tag Archives: podcast

Try Vocal, A Podcast Manager Designed For elementary OS

Vocal is a podcast manager designed to integrate tightly with the elementary OS desktop, which supports both audio and video podcasts, with built-in video playback.

The application doesn’t have every feature you can think of and instead it focuses on what it’s supposed to do: play podcasts while taking care of everything automatically, without going through N tabs of settings.
For instance, Vocal can stream episodes without having to download them locally however, if you want to save some episodes for offline listening, Vocal can do that too – it can even automatically check for and download new episodes in the background.
Another useful feature is its library management: Vocal can automatically delete old downloads so you don’t have to worry about doing this yourself.

Vocal elementary OS

Also, since the app was designed for elementary OS, it integrates perfectly with the Pantheon desktop: it comes with native notifications, launcher count and progress bar support, media keys support and Sound Menu integration.

Other Vocal features include:

  • you can assign custom skip intervals for the skip forward and backwards buttons, useful if for instance you’ve missed something or to jump past an advertisement;
  • episode position saving, you can can easily start an episode from where you left off;
  • supports library import/export (can import from iTunes, gPodder, etc.).

For those are new to podcasts, the Vocal website offers “starter pack” which contains a selection of great podcasts which you can add either individually or as a complete .opml pack which you can import into Vocal. Note that in my test, the imported podcasts didn’t show up in Vocal until I restarted the application.

While the app reached version 1.0 recently, there are a couple of missing features: Vocal lacks a search/filter and it can’t download feeds which require authentication, but hopefully they’ll be added in a future release.

It’s important to note that while Vocal was designed for elementary OS, it should work on any desktop environment that supports header bars (also known as client side decorations) and has GTK 3.14 or newer. As far as *buntu is concerned, Vocal should work on the following:

  • Ubuntu GNOME / Xubuntu 15.04;
  • Ubuntu GNOME 14.10 with GNOME 3 updated to version 3.14 via PPA.
  • Ubuntu 15.04 (with Unity) – partially, because the app won’t have any shadows and to avoid various parts of the app being transparent (bug caused by overlay-scrollbar), you’ll need to launch the app like this: “LIBOVERLAY_SCROLLBAR=0 vocal”.

The app should also work on elementary OS Freya (obviously), Fedora 21 or 22, etc.

Download Vocal

Download Vocal (packages available for Fedora and Ubuntu-based distros)

Important: you’ll also need to download the Granite framework packages (available on the Vocal downloads page) if you’re not using elementary OS or Ubuntu 15.04, or else you won’t be able to install the app.

If you encounter bugs, report them @ Launchpad.

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greg: You’re so vain

Everyone named “Greg” out there in the world can now sit up straight and imagine this little program is named in their honor.


I was introduced to greg after yesterday’s note about podcastxdl, and in spite of its lack of color and command-action-target input style, I think I like it better than the latter.

Of course, that screenshot isn’t very interesting, but what you see there is a lot of the way greg works. It maintains a list of podcasts and addresses, and you can wrangle them with fairly straightforward actions.

greg add adds to that list. greg remove drops it off, after you confirm it. greg check sees if anything is updated, and greg sync synchronizes your local folder with what’s available online. Like I said, it’s fairly straightforward.

I don’t see anything offhand that disappoints me about greg. I ran into no errors except when I fed it an invalid link, and it warned me that it wasn’t going to work. And aside from the lack of color and lack of an “interface,” it seems to work perfectly without my empty-headed suggestions.

So there’s greg, which we can add to the meager list of podcast aggregators for the console. Now do you see it? “greg”? “aggregator”? Aha. … 😉

Tagged: audio, download, manager, player, podcast

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podcastxdl: One-shot downloads for your ears

There are not many podcast tools I can mention, in the years spent spinning through console-based software. In fact, I can think of only about four. But here’s one you can add to your list, if you’re keeping one: PodcastXDL.

2015-04-19-6m47421-podcastxdl 2015-04-19-6m47421-podcastxdl-02

PodcastXDL works in a similar fashion to podget, which you might remember from a looong time ago. Give PodcastXDL a url and a file type, and it should parse through the stream and pull down everything that matches.

It can also spit out links, meaning you can use PodcastXDL to supply links to files, rather than download them. There are also command-line options to start or stop at specific points in a feed, which might be helpful for cropping out older files.

I’ll be honest and say I had a few difficulties working with PodcastXDL, most notably that it didn’t accept my target download directory. If you run into issues with PodcastXDL and nothing seems to be arriving, I would suggest leaving off any -d argument.

Other than that small hiccup, PodcastXDL did what it promised, and I ran into no major issues. It has good color, plenty of options and has seen updates within the past month or so, if you shy away from dated software.

If you need something quick and one-shot for podcast downloads, this could work for you and is better looking than podget was. If you’re looking for something more comprehensive and with more of an interface, stick with podbeuter.

Tagged: audio, download, manager, player, podcast

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Linux Outlaws: Going Out With A Bang

Hello everyone, my last post here was to inform you all of the impending retirement of Linux Outlaws, a podcast I’ve produced with my friend Fabian Scherschel for over 7 years now. It prompted many nice messages and comments and that’s really touching. I’m writing today to tell you that our last stand (aka the final show) will be live this Monday Dec 15th @ 7pm UTC.

We’d like to get as many people on board as possible for the final live recording and take your questions via IRC, Twitter and email. We’ll also be accepting audio questions and comments before the show if you want to send us an email with an audio file attached. Please keep it under 2 minutes long as we’ll have a lot to get through and we can’t accept anything over that. Around a minute would be perfect. Ask us anything you like, related to the show or not. Anything goes. Simply email linuxoutlaws@sixgun.org before Monday Dec 15th.

Linux Voice issue 11 front cover

Linux Voice issue 11 front cover

Rather fittingly today I opened my mailbox (physical not IMAP) to find the latest copy of Linux Voice magazine waiting for me. As I looked at the front cover I noticed the image above and was pretty surprised. My good friend Les Pounder has written a 2 page retrospective on the show and it’s really humbling. When I tweeted him to say thanks he replied “look at the back cover”, I turned over and saw this…

Linux Voice issue 11 back cover

Linux Voice issue 11 back cover

Thank you to everyone who’s sent such nice messages and good wishes. Also a big thanks to Bytemark for their support over the years. Don’t forget to join us live on Monday Dec 15th via Youtube or Icecast. You can also join in with the party via IRC chat or Twitter and follow along. We want this to be a party and not a funeral, plus we really need your questions and comments so join us if you can.

I’ll get back to blogging more regularly as soon as I can once the podcast winds down. In the meantime have a wonderful holiday season if I don’t post before.

See ya,


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Linux Outlaws – Nothing Lasts Forever

Old LInux Outlaws cover art circa 2008 or 9

Some Classic LO Artwork

Hello everyone, damn it’s been a long time since I wrote here hasn’t it? Sorry for that. A quick look at the previous post shows it was back at the end of February. A mere 8 months ago. It’s been a busy year and I wish I could say I was returning today to bring you good news but I’m not really. Don’t panic, I’m not dying or anything (at least I hope not) and it’s nothing to be apprehensive about. I just wanted to share some news with you.

As some of you will know I’ve been hosting a podcast called Linux Outlaws with my friend Fabian Scherschel for many years now. Since September 2007 to be precise. Over the years we’ve had amazing fun, met great people and it’s personally afforded me many opportunities I simply wouldn’t have had otherwise. I’ve been to different parts of the world and met up with people who listen to Linux Outlaws, I present on the TWIT network because of the exposure LO has given me, I met Linus Torvalds on my first ever trip to the USA in 2009 and all of this is directly attributable to this funny little podcast.

When we started the show I never dreamed that more than 100 people would ever hear it. I don’t think either of us did. Somehow though over the years it became popular and seemed to have an impact. I am profoundly proud of that. I always will be. However my friends as the title of this post proclaims, nothing lasts forever, all things must come to an end eventually. It is with a heavy heart that I say Linux Outlaws will be ending in December of this year. It’s a decision Fab and I have come to together and far from the end of our working relationship or friendship, it’s just time to close one chapter and begin another. We didn’t want to just sign off suddenly one day and be gone. So here’s the plan…

We will record 5 final episodes leading up to December (the last being ep 370) and in those we’d like to wrap things up, talk to some previous guests, discuss the odd topic or two and respond to listener feedback. I decided we should title this effort “the last stand”. It’s an obvious term to use for a show with the word “outlaws” in the title I know, but I think it works. As you read this a podcast has just been released which explains more. Episode 365 of Linux Outlaws, 365 episodes WTF?!! How have we made that many? Anyway, it explains the decision and the thinking behind it from me and Fab. Have a listen if you’re interested. We need your input on what you want to hear in the remaining episodes. I would like people to use the hastag #OutlawsLastStand to send us feedback if possible and discuss anything to do with this announcement. You can of course always email the show via linuxoutlaws AT sixgun DOT org as well.

I expect a mixed reaction to this news. Some people will be upset, some pleased and others won’t care either way. That’s fair enough and I respect each position.

It’s been an amazing 7 years and I’d like to say a heartfelt THANK YOU to everyone who has listened in that time, sent a message, said hello at a conference or anything else really. It’s been a blast and I wouldn’t change that for the world but at this point our lives have changed dramatically, both of us, and we just can’t keep Linux Outlaws going. We will return at some point with a different podcast in 2015 probably. A different format, more hosts, not Linux focussed, we’re not 100% sure yet. If you want to know about that then we’ll announce it on Twitter and other places.

Make no mistake, this is not us going out with a pathetic whimper from some dark corner. As far as I’m concerned these last few episodes (the last stand) is Ned Kelly and his gang facing down the law with tin buckets on their heads and fire in their hearts. Let’s go out with a bang!

I thought I’d share a song to finish off. A song from a band based in my own town of Liverpool, Echo & The Bunnymen. As the song says nothing ever lasts forever, things come to an end. As one chapter ends another begins and I hope to see many of the friends I’ve made doing this podcast as the journey continues.

Who knows, perhaps with some additional free time in 2015 I can write a bit more, do more music and even become a proper software developer again. I hope so.

Thanks for reading this. Best wishes to you all,


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