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:

airtunes

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:

airtunes

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.

Quirks

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.

Conclusion

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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Comments (31)
  • Stewart

    This does not work. The instructions are clear and it all looks onscreen as you say it should. After following the instructions through, it is possible to choose the Bose device from the Pulse audio setup. It is also possible to successfully choose the Bose Airlink device as the output sound device from VLC etc. However, there is *no sound* on the Airlink device. The built-in audio works just fine, so if you switch back from Bose to built-in speaker, you can hear the sound file just great. Then switch over to Bose and *nothing*.

  • Doof_rider

    Does not work. I can select the Airplay and it connects because my running stream from the Ipad drops, but no sound.

  • itsmo1

    Does not work. Everything ok up to the point of choosing bose device for output of sound – loks like bose device is selected but no sound! (No I haven’t got it on mute)

  • Kasati

    thanks a lot, this saved our day! tried to make AirTunes work from Ubuntu last year, pretty frustrating experience. This worked like a charm!

  • ernest

    You can also start paprefs in the Ubuntu “System” menu -> Preferences -> PulseAudio Preferences. That might be even less scary than alt-f2..

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Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.