RadioEarlier this week I blogged about the lack of Linux support for the radio streaming services offered by Antfarm. As part of my effort to find out as much information regarding the service as I could, I mailed Antfarm to engage them regarding my concerns. They responded, and an interesting development followed.

Below is a brief transcript of the mails, and how you can help make this service better for Linux users in South Africa.

The e-mails

Here is a condensed version of the emails that were exchanged:

From me to Antfarm:

I am in the process of reviewing streaming radio stations for my blog and
ran into difficulties playing any of the audio streams with Linux. I could
play them when using Win7 and Windows Media Player, but even after making
sure I have the correct codecs installed I could not play them while using
Ubuntu.

Do you have any suggestion how I could resolve this and play streaming radio
from your services on my laptop with Ubuntu?

Antfarms reply:

Please note that you can use the MPlayer-Browser,
http://mplayerplug-in.sourceforge.net/ ,  plugin (for Google Chrome and
Firefox) to listen to the radio streams without any commandline
intervention.  The package is available from most  Linux distributions.

I tried, and their link to mplayer was to an old sourceforge project. The version of Mplayer I got via my package manager proved to largely do the trick. I had another idea, however.

My Reply:

Thank you very much for your reply.

Playing the streams directly works from mplayer command-line and Rhythmbox and other media players for Linux as well.

Would you guys agree to making the urls for the streams available to allow the Linux community to create a how-to on adding these audio streams to popularly available media players like Rhythmbox or Amarok?

I would definitely chip in with compiling the how-to, and would gladly make it available to Antfarm to place on their website.

Would You guys be open to such an idea? It will definitely expand the online listenership for many of the Radio stations.

Please let me know what you think of this idea.

The response was surprising, since I thought I was asking for a lot.

Hi Quintin

I am sure we can arrange for something like this to happen. Would a url linking to an asx file be good enough for rythmbox and amarok? Something like this:

http://www.antfarm.co.za/clients/5fm/5fm_22.asx

The asx file is a playlist file with references to the media servers that serve the stream. This allows us to update the file rather than have to update all the listeners with any amendments made to the streaming setup.

I will be happy to furnish you with all the asx urls we have and use for the how to page.

And there you have it. Apologies if mail transcripts bore you…

Now I need your help!

I need some of you okes to test the provided asx url with as many Linux media players as possible. I will test a few of them on Ubuntu, many eyes will make sure the Linux community provide as complete and well-compiled a how-to as possible to Antfarm.

One idea I am playing with is compiling all the urls into a “South Africa Radio Stations” pack for Rythmbox and Amarok. I am not entirely sure that is even possible to do.

Step 1, testing the URL with Rhythmbox

I am glad to report that adding the url to Rhythmbox works a charm. It recognizes the asx stream and plays it. That is about all that can be asked for.

All you do is click on FILE, ADD RADIO STATION and enter the URL.

Done.

Below is a quick step by step, to give whoever decides to contribute a general idea of what I have in mind:

  1. Open Rhythmbox and Go to Radio Stations are by clicking on “Radio” on the left.

    Step One

    The "Radio" area.

  2. Click on “File” and “New Radio Station”

    Step 2

    Add your URL here.

  3. Enter the URL provided by Antfarm

    Step 3

    Adding the new URL

  4. Once you clicked on “Add”, your Radio Station will be displayed in the list of available stations

    Step 4

    There is your station!

  5. Now you can RIGHT CLICK on the new station, select “Properties” and edit its, uhm, properties

    Step 5

    You can give you station a name and genre

  6. And now you can find your station under its proper name in your playlist. Ready to play.

    Step 6

    There you are. Radio Station Added and Ready.

And it is as simple as that!

Scripting this badboy

My scripting skillz are legendary for their mediocrity. Nevertheless, I shall endeavor to hack together some kind of script to add these stations to Rhythmbox. Result, or lack of, to follow.

Summary

There you have it. This is an opportunity for the Linux community to prove its mettle. We can add something of value to the services Antfarm provides, and also, in our small way, promote Linux and its users.

Any ideas and your own how-to’s are welcome in the comments. I will add them all to a page on my blog.

Looking forward to your ideas!

Related posts:

  1. South African Radio Streaming