Site Map - skip to main content

Hacker Public Radio

Your ideas, projects, opinions - podcasted.

New episodes every weekday Monday through Friday.
This page was generated by The HPR Robot at

hpr2115 :: Apt Spelunking 3: nodm, cmus, and parecord

Windigo wades through the Debian repositories and brings attention to some of the good stuff.

<< First, < Previous, , Latest >>

Thumbnail of Windigo
Hosted by Windigo on 2016-09-09 is flagged as Clean and is released under a CC-BY-SA license.
linux, pulseaudio, music. 1.
The show is available on the Internet Archive at:

Listen in ogg, spx, or mp3 format. Play now:

Duration: 00:13:21

Apt Spelunking.

"Apt spelunking" is a silly term I made up for the act of searching through your package manager, App Store, Code Repo, etc with vague terms, and trying out random applications therein.
A public series started by Windigo.

Hello, this is Windigo, and Welcome to the another episode of apt spelunking! If you missed the first episode, then you probably missed the second episode as well. I assure you, they were fantastic; no need to go back and check.

This series (and yes, it’s official now) is about finding uncommon packages that are buried in the Debian repos. It could very well be about finding packages in other repos, but no Arch, Fedora, Ubuntu or OpenSUSE users are smart or handsome enough to contribute an episode.

In no particular order, here are a few more packages I’ve discovered.


nodm is a very small, very specific utility that is used to start an X session automatically.

On Debian, you configure nodm with the configuration file located at /etc/defaults/nodm. You can specify whether or not nodm is enabled, which user to run as, and what x session to run.

While hugely insecure, nodm is a great way to avoid the hassle of a full display manager like gdm or lightdm. It’s extremely lightweight, which is perfect for my Mini 9, and kicks things right into my custom i3 session.


cmus is a very comprehensive, console-based music player. cmus stands for “C* music player“.

I received cmus as a recommendation from chalkahlom (Gavin) while looking for a media player suitable for the Mini 9. It is a very light application (1.5M uncompressed), which suited my needs well.

The interface of cmus is slightly strange, and may take some getting used to. It is broken up into seven “views”, which can be accessed using the number keys. The views are “Library”, “Sorted Library”, “Playlist”, “Play Queue”, “Browser”, “Filters”, and “Settings”.

To be honest, I still haven’t given cmus a fair shake. It seems like an excellent music player, but I’m still unable to break away from the familiarity of audacious. I’m once again reaffirming my commitment to trying cmus out; it seems like a really good player, if given the time of day.


Pulseaudio comes with a selection of very handy command-line utilities that can be used to play and record audio in various formats. The one I’d like to discuss is “parecord”.

Ordinarily, I do all of my podcast recording with the arecord utility, which talks directly to ALSA. Last time I tried this, it very badly broke audacity when I tried to import the audio. I sounded like a chipmunk, and then audacity crashed.

parecord is a nice alternative to arecord, because it also does encoding on the fly. There may be an ALSA equivalent that also encodes your audio as you’re recording, but I don’t know about it. At best, you’d have to pipe the output of arecord to avconv or a similar utility.

Using parecord, I can specify the file format using the --file-format flag, and record directly to FLAC, which is what HPR prefers. Other formats are available, but I think FLAC is a good balance of quality and compression.

If you prefer the raw recording style of arecord, there is a utility called parec which will record raw audio data, but it’s a bit outside of the scope of this podcast. Also, I don’t really know much about it.

I hope someone can find some use in the applications I’ve mentioned here. If you have some other packages that you find indispensable and/or useful, I’d love to hear about them in your very own episode.


Subscribe to the comments RSS feed.

Comment #1 posted on 2016-09-11 04:42:20 by b-yeezi

Thanks for parecord

Thanks for parecord. I will try it when I record my next episode.

As for cmus, I can't recommend it enough. I have a nas with a nfs share full of a few thousand songs. Must graphical music players choke when updating the library, but cmus handles it like a champ. I agree that the controls take some getting used to, but it's worth it in the end. Plus it fits an I3 workflow perfectly.

Leave Comment

Note to Verbose Commenters
If you can't fit everything you want to say in the comment below then you really should record a response show instead.

Note to Spammers
All comments are moderated. All links are checked by humans. We strip out all html. Feel free to record a show about yourself, or your industry, or any other topic we may find interesting. We also check shows for spam :).

Provide feedback
Your Name/Handle:
Anti Spam Question: What does the letter P in HPR stand for?
Are you a spammer?
What is the HOST_ID for the host of this show?
What does HPR mean to you?