Thursday, November 15, 2012

Bulk adding iradio stations in Rhythmbox

Every time I upgraded my system fresh installing a new Ubuntu release, I had this habit of taking a backup of my config files/folders, like for example..
~/.mozilla for retaining bookmarks, browser preferences and settings, etc
~/.xchat2 for retaining irc logs, autoconnect channel listings, channel settings, etc
Some more like these have really saved me all those hours of reconfiguring some of my software after reinstalling them on my new system.

Now, I never really cared which particular configuration file was used for what as long I ensured backing up and restoring the complete configuration folders. Rhythmbox, which is an awesome music player for GNU/Linux systems, has been my choice of music player since I switched from Windows. Awesome it is and so I had to maintain my config files so that I didn't have to re-rate my favourites, create all my playlists over and over again every time I re-installed it on an upgraded system.

But this one time, while switching from Ubuntu 12.04 to 12.10, I took backup of all my config folders as I do, and as I think I did, I somehow missed out Rhythmbox. So after re-installing, I couldn't find my Rhythmbox backed up files. Re-rating and creating playlists began. After 3 days, I was done, except for one thing.. recovering my list of favourite radio stations that I had added to the default listing Rhythmbox provides.

I remember the first time I added my own bit to the list. Hours spent searching for Internet radio stations of specific genres and sub-genres, adding them, one by one on Rhythmbox. It was only a one time headache, of course if the files were backed up.

Now what to do?
Should I go back to the old way of repeating my configuration or do I do something more optimized?

Firstly, I searched around for the file(s) which had information about the radio stations. I used "gnome-search-tool", which is a lightweight searching tool with optional parameters. The parameter I needed was - search string in content. I picked up one of the default listed radio station which had the name - "University of Wisconsin", searched for any files in Rhythmbox folder locations which had this name in its content.

If you sneak around in your file system, you will find multiple locations where Rhythmbox resides for different purposes..


each having many files in them. I triggered the search in these locations. Found 2 files containing the mentioned string in their content..

/usr/share/rhythmbox/plugins/iradio/iradio-initial.xspf and,

So I found the files where I could add my list of radio stations. But which one is the useful one?

The first one seemed like a useless file to me. I moved the file to another location and restarted Rhythmbox. As opposed to the expectation of finding the default list empty, I saw no change in the default listing.

Then I started exploring the 2nd file - rhythmdb.xml. As the name suggests, it is the maintained database of Rhythmbox mapping each and every song in the library to their location on the disk. If you scroll down, you will find the default list of radio stations appended at the end.

Now, each radio station had an entry of the following format as depicted using the example of one of the default stations:

 <entry type="iradio">
    <title>WSUM 91.7 FM (University of Wisconsin)</title>
    <genre>College Radio</genre>

Next, the tags, in a structured format, which matter here are:

 <entry type="iradio">


The genre is picked up automatically when you play the particular station.
Okay, so now I needed to get a list of my favourite radio stations with the information about their name and location.

Okay, now you must be wondering, "What the hell! It's the same bullshit over again. What's new in this?". Be patient. The donkey work is just an illusion. I have about 60 radio stations to be added. Instead of adding a new radio station the traditional way via the Rhythmbox interface, and then right clicking on it and then copy pasting the name/title of the radio station, I did the following..

1. I created a new text file containing the list of my favourite radio stations with their title and location.
Mind that, I haven't yet added the XML tags, only created a simple list of radio stations.

An excerpt from my stations.txt file:

Each Entry has the title followed by the location of the radio station.

2. Next, and the most important step is to append XML tags at appropriate locations. Now, I would, in fact anyone would, lose their head if they'd sit down and add the tags for each entry element; like I said, I have about 60 stations in the list.
That's where the power of vim comes in to picture. Edit one entry in a macro and apply the macro x@a where -
x: number of remaining entries and,
a: name of the macro

3. Before this step, ensure rhythmbox is not running in the background. Copy the revised contents of stations.txt files and paste it in the end of rhythmdb.xml file, but just before the closing "</rhythmdb>" tag (that's the last line of the file)

4. Save it
5. Open Rhythmbox
6. Voila!
7. Ok, enough of unnecessary steps.

8. (!) Watch this screencast I uploaded showing how each of the above steps (except steps 6-8) are executed including how to make and run a macro in vi.


Comment in the section below.. your thoughts, if you faced the same problem, what did you do, etc, etc

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