Is Gathering Speed

Recently I wrote an article about the creation of a new web service called, I’d like to fill you in on some of the developments since then. I was fortunate enough to get some input at the time from Matt Lee, instigator of the project. is a free network service aimed at replacing initially but also going beyond that to develop unique features of it’s own. The service is still in alpha at the moment but it’s developing really quickly. I’ve been impressed by it’s progress and the developer mailing list is packed with action every day. There seems to be a real appetite for an AGPL web service of this kind. In the short time since I first wrote about it the project has picked names for it’s components. The server back end will be called GNUkebox and the client is to be dubbed Nixtape (sorry for the terrible pun). Slightly odd names perhaps but I particularly like Nixtape. According to the development road map as of May 4th (Star Wars day) the service has 4000 users and 3 million plays have already been submitted. That’s pretty staggering for something that only began a few weeks ago.

On a personal note, I’ve managed to get everything set up on my desktop and I’m now reporting tracks to I’ve also imported all of my data from You can see my account at and marvel at my eclectic musical tastes. I use Rhythmbox as my primary music player and in order to submit tracks to I had to do a little hack on my hosts file. Now, this may seem daunting but really it’s pretty simple. I do hope more user friendly tools will be developed for in future but it’s still in it’s infancy and for now this works. Here’s what you need to do (these instructions are for Linux users but there are tips for all operating systems in the wiki):

  1. Sign up or an account with by going to the website
  2. Next you need to modify your hosts file to point at the scrobbler, it’s located at /etc/hosts
  3. Open a terminal and type sudo nano /etc/hosts to edit the file with Nano EDIT: new users may prefer to use gedit or kate like so sudo gedit /etc/hosts
  4. Add the lineΒ Β Β near the top, the exact position doesn’t matter but below the 2 localhost entries is a good spot
  5. Save the file and close the terminal
  6. Make sure you have your plugin or whatever you use to submit to now set with the right username and password for your new account
  7. Listen to some music (the best step)
My Profile
My Profile

You should see your track list being populated on the website. Not too difficult but as I said an automated tool to fix this in future would be great. Most end users don’t want to have to edit config files it seems. It’s being worked on and the developers are doing a great job.

The other thing I did was to export all my listening data from with the tools suggested on the ideas wiki, the instructions there are very clear and I recommend them. The basic process involves using to copy all your plays out of into a text file. From there you can use another script called to send them to in batches of 50. The whole process took a while for me with over 10,000 plays to export but after about an hour it was complete.

So now all my tracks are going to and I’m pretty happy with that. The project is taking shape really quickly and new features are being added all the time, I think exciting times lie ahead. When I told a friend recently tat had only been going for just over a month they didn’t believe me, that says it all hehe πŸ™‚


  1. Problem is, it seems daunting and it *is* to a regular Joe Blo user…yes, without a doubt plugins like ones for Rhythmbox, etc will be mainstream in a couple of a weeks, but a regular user who is afraid of the command line won’t bother to edit his/her hosts file.

    I was recently complaindenting about my friend’s Ubuntu upgrade which went sour. I ssh’d and tried to fix some stuff, but in the end he decided to just reinstall with ext4, and would ask me like 5 times what the command was even when I sent him the instruction in a text file…Takeaway? He preferred Ubuntu’s graphical installer as the solution to his problems. πŸ˜€ So when all the popular media players such as Rhythmbox, Audacious (using it in my Debian setup), et al have librefm plugins that just configure with username/password, that’s when you’ll see it really pick steam as new users automatically get in on the librefm shebang. Rock on, kids m/

    • @edy – Yes that’s what I was saying about the need for easier tools to be developed. Most people do not want to edit a hosts file to submit tracks but I still think when you consider this whole idea is 6 weeks old, it’s pretty amazing. I hope the improved tools will come soon and we can see more of the general public get in on this. Make no mistake though, development has been rapid. It will continue I think, it’s still in alpha but I’m always an optimist πŸ˜‰

  2. Could I suggest changing nano to gedit/kate in your instructions?

    explaining a text editor in the terminal is difficult, even if it is a simpler one like nano.

    doesn’t a service like this really depend on artists joining? even more so than users? I just signed up for an account.

    • Saleel – Yes that’s a good point. I didn’t think of that as I often use Nano but I can see how it would be tricky for new users. I’ll add instructions for gedit as well. I’m a Gnome fanboy πŸ˜› On the point about artists, I think this will make a difference and there are already artists interested. Once I get some new music made I’ll add it there myself. There’s already Jamendo integration I believe.

  3. Rhythmbox now supports it in the latest version — still not quite exposed in the GUI, but we have a one liner people can use now, to edit the required part of Gconf.

    Soon, I am confident that the players will catch up and support us.

    • @Matt – I heard Rhythmbox has been patched in SVN and I think support is coming for a lot of other players quickly. As I said the speed of development has been incredible in my opinion. Keep up the good work πŸ™‚

    • jakswa – The instructions on the wiki are very good, I just wanted to give my own version. The documentation is pretty solid but if I can help to give it more publicity and get people on board I’m keen to do so. Thanks for reading

  4. Hi Dan, thanks for making a little more known. the more users it gets, the faster it will be developed.

    btw, I see an interesting trend in the digg vs. reddit vote for this post…

    • @hezy – Reddit usually wins from what I’ve seen because it’s open source and stories relating to FLOSS do better there. I guess we’ll see. I’m really just a publicity whore at heart but I hope it helps the service to gain visibility too πŸ™‚

  5. @Hezy @Dan – It’s all about where you submit. Dan’s original submission only has one upvote, but the one in /r/linux has 120something. Obviously, the technologically inclined fine folk at /r/linux are more likely to edit their host files to participate in

  6. hey dan, I appreciate your articles a lot and give big thanks for them. There is one more thing you can do, and I wouldn’t mention it except you do it so much it drives me nuts– don’t say “it’s” when you mean “its.” It’s easy to test when “its” or “it’s” is appropriate– “it’s” is a contraction of “it is.”

    For example, try “I’ve been impressed by it is progress’. Oops! So now we know the correct way is “its progress”.

    Sorry for the nitpick, I know it’s a common error, I just couldn’t take it anymore πŸ™‚

    And thanks again, is a cool project that deserves more attention.

    • @benfrank – I take your point but I was always taught that “it’s” is a shortened version of “it is”. That’s the same as what you’re saying. I also thought it could be used to imply ownership though, so “it’s progress” would make sense. Maybe I’m wrong. I write as I speak which is not even close to the Queen’s English. I’m no fan her and her institution anyway. I try my best to get things like grammar and spelling right, but I will never succeed all the time

  7. lastscrape doesn’t like beautifulsoup in Debian/unstable I think. Is there some other way to download tracks from I really don’t want to manually download the 5000+ pages of tracks I have (getting really close to 300,000 songs). Perl would be wonderful!

    • @gord – I don’t know of an answer for this sorry. I only know about the lastscrape Python script. Perhaps one of the developers or someone more knowledgeable will see this and chip in. I’d suggest asking on the mailing list to get the best help. You could always try the IRC channel as well for a quicker response. Good luck, hope you get it sorted πŸ™‚

  8. @jezra — I’m with you, but Dan already knows that. I’m just amazed at the amount of music people listen to! It’s like a peak into an alien world.

    • @lostnbronx @jezra – We discussed this on the forum. Music is massively important to me. Sharing it, finding new artists and so on. I’ve always spent a lot of time swapping records (sorry RIAA) and discussing music with friends, since before the days of the Internet. This just expands the network for me. Clearly I’m a boring bastard… but we already knew that πŸ˜‰

    • @shii – Really? That’s strange. With the host files hack it should just work with any client, it’s just redirecting the name to a new IP address. I don’t use Banshee so I don’t know much about it but I think other users do. Might be worth checking on the wiki, they have instructions for different clients. You could also ask on the mailing list, I’m sure someone will help. Good luck!

    • @Aengus – Hmm, that doesn’t look right. All my stuff should be tagged properly but lately I’ve been testing out different media players and I’ve noticed some strange things. Some of the tags have been changed to things like “unknown artist” when they were fine before. I think some of the programs have been trying to automatically update tags and messing them up. It’s gonna take ages to sort out. I hope Easytag can do most of it automatically. Thanks for pointing it out though

  9. FYI, there’s a Rhythmbox plugin that works for both and It’s called Scrobble Free. I’m using v0.3 and it works well. For things to work properly, you have to disable the plugin.

    • @cam – Thanks for the reminder. I’ve seen plenty of people talking about Scrobble Free on the developer mailing list but not had chance to try it yet. I’ll give it a go πŸ™‚

  10. I really hope doesn’t just try to copy I think it needs to focus on promoting “free” artists and music.

    I’d definitely use it more if instead of recommending me commercial artists it scoured jamendo, magnatune et al for free music similar to what I’m listening to.

    • @antonio – I think that’s the plan. They already have their main artist tag cloud only showing Free Culture artists, and there are little green icons next to all CC artists and tracks on the site.

  11. […] and build a social network for music lovers based on free software and open data. The teamΒ made great strides at implementing this in the first few months and got a working prototype up pretty quickly. But then development stalled and although the […]

  12. I noticed you haven’t scrobbled to for a while Dan. Do you still follow development? My guess would be that your scrobbling got mucked up with all the distro hopping…



    • @MoLE – Hi, thanks for reading. I haven’t scrobbled in a very long time it’s true. There are many reasons for this I think. My listening of talk podcasts has gone up and I tend to do that through my phone. I’ve only recently upgraded to a HTC Desire and I hope to find a good scrobbling solution on Android. That should bring activity up. I’ve been busier than expected this year and haven’t kept up with development at all. That’s my own fault. Distro hopping and having to set everything up each time probably doesn’t help either. I still see a fair bit of activity on the mailing list but I don’t know if the overall project has advanced much. I hope so.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.