How To Use Apple’s AirTunes in Ubuntu

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airtunesI’m a Ubuntu guy at heart, but the team over at bicycle-based IT company iSupportU, my home away from MakeUseOf, includes a couple of real Mac types. As such, a recent company memo stated that music can now reach our stereo over something called “AirTunes.”

First, I grumbled about the typical Apple naming scheme, then I wondered if it was possible to use such a thing from Ubuntu, then I heard my fellow Linux user ask the same question out loud.

Then, and only then, did I begin Googling for more information. What I found was useful, and with typical, super-helpful Ubuntu-forumites to boot, but I think there’s a gap in the Internet here that needs to be filled. Let’s fill it then, shall we? This guide is written using Ubuntu 10.04, but may apply to other Linux distributions as well.

Step 1: Install Necessary Software

To begin, you need to install two packages: “pulseaudio-module-raop paprefs” and “paprefs”. The first package allows Ubuntu to use the remote audio output protocol (raop); the second, configure Ubuntu to enable it. To install the packages, simply open the command line and type this command:

sudo apt-get install pulseaudio-module-raop paprefs

If the command line scares you simply click here to install the packages.

Non-Ubuntu people, your mileage may vary here in terms of the package names. Sorry about that!

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Step 2: Enable AirTunes Detection

Now that you’ve installed what needs installing, you need to open the program “paprefs”. Do this from the command line, or click “Alt” and “F2” and type “paprefs” there. Don’t worry; you’re most of the way, and everything will be GUI-full from here on out. Here’s what the window should look like:


Simply click the “Make Discoverable Apple AirTunes sound devices available locally” checkbox and you’ve enabled it.

Step 3: Switch to AirTunes

Now that AirTunes detection is enabled all you need to do is switch your speakers from your local computer to your remote one. Click the “Volume” icon in your tray, then click “Preferences”, as seen here:


Click the “Output” tab and you should see your Apple AirTunes device listed here, like this:

apple airtunes

If you don’t see such an option, don’t panic. Simply restart Pulseaudio (if you know how) or reboot your computer. It should show up for sure now.


Of course, this entire process being a little bit of a hack, there are a few quirks to be noted. For example, I noticed a six-second delay. This isn’t a big deal if you’re listening to music, but don’t plan on using this from watching movies.

The second problem I’ve noted is that, while switching back to my computer’s speakers is as easy as re-opening the output selection, this apparently doesn’t log me off on the server-side. This means that, if one of my Apple-using collegues decides to reconnect to AirTunes after I’m done using it, they see a message about someone already being logged onto the device. This is frustrating, but nothing that a reboot of the Airport Express can’t fix.

If I find a fix to either of these problems you can expect to find it in the comments below, but please also feel free to share if you have any of your own.


I was happy to find a way to stream my music to the AirTunes device at work, and hope this guide is useful to at least a few other people. If it does, please leave me a note in the comments below. Also leave me a note if you’ve found a way to decrease lag or log off without restarting the AirPort.

Finally, as I cannot use every Linux distribution simultaniously, please let me know how these steps work on other systems such as Fedora or SUSE. It’s always good to know!

Photo credit: Jared C. Benedict

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