Encode and sync music to your portable music player in linux

Ok so today turned out to be a not so good day for me, and like all not so good days I try do something which would distract me, something i love doing. Hence this post. Nope I don’t want to talk about it.

So some months ago I got me an E71 Nokia phone, among other things I was hoping to use it as a music device so I slammed in an 8gb memory card, and was all set but for one factor: 60% of my music collection are in ogg format and nokia default music player does recognize ogg. Sure there are some 3rd party music apps for E71 which can play ogg files out of the box but they all lack the kind of integration which you get with the Nokia default music player. While in confused mode I decided to call up a friend nucco and he gave me the tip about .is_audio_player.

What is .is_audio_player

If like me, you have a music library made up of different music formats, and you want to be able to sync them to your portable music player in one music format say mp3. Example, my music collection is composed of different formats, .mp3, ogg, aac but I want to sync everyone of them as mp3 to my Nokia e71. This is where .is_audio_player comes in handy. Nope its not an application, nope its not a codec, its not a library either. Its just a file (yeah file) its a file you place in the root directory of the storage of your music device from where it does its magic.


First you open your favorite text editor (gedit, kate, emac, nano, vi whatever). Then you place in the following entries:





audio_folders = Here you indicate the relative path of the music folder on your portable device. On my Nokia its in Sound/Digital

folder_depth = Here you indicate the folder depth of the music folder (remember that every storage device attached to your Linux computer is mounted on /media/ hence you will start counting from the device mount point. In my case it was.


Since our final destination ™ is Digital (in my case that is) which is 3 step away from /media I indicated the value for folder_depth to be 3

out_formats = The last parameter is quite straight forward it’s asking what media format you want your files to be encoded in before sync. In my case i want them encoded to mp3 hence i added audio/mpeg

Now configure the file the way it meets your needs and then save as .is_audio_player remember the . (dot) in-front of is_audio_player. Once the file is saved, place it at the root of your music device (Nokia, Sony Erikson, China Mp3 device etc). In my case i placed it inside the memory card of my nokia phone (make sure you are using a mobile phone that can be seen as a mass storage device)

Note: Any file with a . (dot) in-front of its name is hidden by default in Linux hence you may not see the file after saving it until you tell your filemanager to view hidden files (ctrl +h) for (gnome) and (alt + .) for (kde)

Below is the .is_audio_player file inside the memory card of my nokia.

Once all is set, you can now plug your portable music player to your Linux computer and open Rhythmbox.

If all goes well Rhythmbox will detect your audio device. (in my case my nokia.)

All that is left is for you to select the tracks you want to sync. (you can always create a playlist) Drag and drop them into your portable music player’s icon. (You can also drag from your portable music player into your Music library.)

Transferring from your music library in rhythmbox to your portable music device might be slow, especially if it has to encode them to another music format before the transfer.

In the end I was able to encode all my ogg to mp3 files and sync them with my freedom hating E71 on the fly. I hope this helps someone out there.


  • I don’t know if this method would work with ipods.
  • Legends have it that Amarok supports .is_audio_player I can’t tell since I have not been able to get it to work in amarok 2.1. If you have been able to please let me know.
  • The Original ogg file on my music computer library is unaltered.

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23 comments on “Encode and sync music to your portable music player in linux

  1. wow, that’s nice! thanks for information 🙂
    I have sony ericsson walkman-series phone and it recognize mp3 files only, so It’ll be very useful ^^

  2. thank you very much. This is the best advice I’ve seen ina while! I was looking a way to ”mount” e63 in rythmbox

    BTW amarok 1.4.x (only amarok that is good) supports automounting SD or generic players.

    Again tnx for advice!

      1. It worked on Generic USB key to! So it helped to load music for incar listening 🙂

        Thanks a bunch 🙂

        The only problem that I have is no USB cable for E63 but I think I will buy one now that I can efficently use rhythmbox.

  3. With large collections, my experience with Rhythmbox was that it cannot digest a huge collection (~120 GB…). So I had to use Amarok 1.x (in Ubuntu Hardy Heron) which works flawlessly – for me. I never tried sync’ing my SDHC card by the way of Amarok, though, I always copy directly to card… from the filesystem.

    Interesting idea you gave me here, I’ll try it out. Thanks!

    1. Yeah you are right, i used to use amarok when ran hardy on my system. i used it with postgres as db. worked really well with large music collections and had a good support for portable music players

  4. This is an awesome post. Thank you. I wondered why I needed .is_audio_player on my mp3 player (Sony Walkman 8gb; works flawlessly with Rhythmbox). This is a great explanation.


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  6. maaaan thanks, i googled it and it helped me a lot
    my moto w223 with mp3 was not recognized as audio player like my china mp3p and now i can sync them two as well as my mini flash drive

  7. No need, just sync by USB cable, and when asked about connection mode, choose Media, so the phone talks MTP and Rhythmbox too!

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