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Old 04-14-2008, 01:30 AM   #1
Registered: Nov 2005
Location: California
Distribution: ubuntu 10
Posts: 162

Rep: Reputation: 33
xargs, mplayer loses key controls

ls -1 *mp3 | tail -n2 | xargs -I{} mplayer {}
So I'm looking for just about any excuse to learn the cli. This lists mp3's in the dir, selects the last two, and feeds them one by one into mplayer (correct me if I'm wrong..). It works, as far as hearing the right music come out of the speakers. But none of the keyboard controls work when I use this. If I just run 'mplayer track11.mp3', all's well. I can mute, seek, stop, etc.

Anyone know what's wrong?
Old 04-14-2008, 03:45 AM   #2
Senior Member
Registered: Oct 2003
Location: UK
Distribution: Kubuntu 12.10 (using awesome wm though)
Posts: 3,530

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The difference is that when you run with xargs, the program you are running does not get connected to the terminal in which you are running it. Consider this example:
$ cat
echo "The terminal is: $(tty)"

$ chmod 755
$ ./
The terminal is: /dev/pts/1
$ echo "oh hai" | xargs ./
The terminal is: not a tty
It seems mplayer behaves differently when connected to a terminal compared to when it's not. I can replicate this. What's weird is that with movie files it is not the case. I suspect that when playing video the key press events are handled by the X-window which is created where as with audio only files there is no X-window, and so keypress events can only work if the process is attached to a tty from which to get input.

One solution if your file names do not have spaces in them, try this:
mplayer $(ls *mp3 | tail -n2)
By the way the -I{} and {} are not necessary in your original command, and the -1 option to ls is also not necessary (when ls is not connected to a terminal, it always lists in a single column format, assuming that it is part of a pipeline.
Old 04-14-2008, 04:16 AM   #3
Registered: Nov 2005
Location: California
Distribution: ubuntu 10
Posts: 162

Original Poster
Rep: Reputation: 33
That certainly explains things. Thanks!


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