October 9, 2007

Control multimedia applications with ReMoot

Author: Federico Kereki

You can manage most of today's multimedia applications easily with ReMoot, a universal remote control program. ReMoot even provides an esoteric way of controlling your PC remotely from your cell phone or PDA, earning it top geek points.

Start by going to the ReMoot site and clicking on Source Download to get the latest version, 0.4. The software consists of Perl and Ruby scripts. After the quick download completes, open a console, go to the directory where you downloaded everything, and type these commands as root:

tar zxf remoot-0.4.tar.gz
cd remoot-0.4
chmod +x re*
cp remoot* /usr/bin
cp rewww00t* /usr/bin

ReMoot comprises three scripts: the basic remoot script itself, which you use to command the different multimedia applications; remoot-remote, which shows onscreen graphical controls; and rewww00t, which lets you govern your PC via a Web interface. You need Perl to use remoot, and you need Ruby to use rewww00t. If you don't already have these available, use your favorite package manager to get perl, perl-Tk, and ruby. You'll also need Advanced Linux Sound Architecture (ALSA), but most distributions already include it, so that shouldn't be a problem.

Begin by checking that ReMoot is actually working. Open your favorite music program, such as Amarok, and start playing something. From a console, try some commands, such as remoot volup and remoot voldown to turn the volume up or down, or remoot next to advance through the tracks.

Remoot commands Description
remoot volup Turn the volume up.
remoot voldown Turn the volume down.
remoot mute Mute (or unmute) the sound.
remoot play Start playing.
remoot playpause Pause (or continue) playing.
remoot stop Stop playing.
remoot next Skip to the next track.
remoot prev Go back to the previous track.

ReMoot supports several different programs, all with the same commands. For example, whether you're listening to music with Amarok or watching a video with xine or Kaffeine, the remoot stop command will produce the same effect in the player program. As long as you're running a program known by ReMoot, you'll get consistent results. This lets you configure the multimedia keys on your keyboard in a single way that will work no matter which program you happen to be using at the time.

Programs known by ReMoot
Amarok Kaffeine Quod Libet
Aqualung KMPlayer Rhythmbox
Audacious KsCD Totem
Banshee Listen VLC
Exaile MPlayer xine
JuK Noatun XMMS

However, some of these programs require tweaks to work properly. Check the ReMoot wiki site if something doesn't work as expected.

ReMoot can control several programs at the same time. If you pause Amarok, for instance, and then want to start it again, the remoot playpause command won't start any other programs that might be running but instead will continue with Amarok. If you want to continue with other programs, you have to reactivate them manually before ReMoot will work with them.

If you are more graphically oriented, the remoot-remote program shows a bare-bones window with all available commands. No matter which program is running, you can click on one of these buttons to command the currently playing program. The company promises that a new version will feature icons instead of text.

If you really want to earn a "geek award," start the rewww00t program (check the name carefully; it usually includes a version number) and navigate to yourOwnURL:14300. You'll see clickable links that operate on your multimedia. With rewww00t, you could use your cell phone or PDA to connect to your server (though you'd have to open firewall ports and do some other things in order to get this to work) and turn the volume up from anywhere in the world. That may be of little use, but it's interesting!

Program the multimedia keys

With the scripts installed and working, you can get Linux to perform certain commands whenever you press a multimedia key. Following the instructions in the article "Customize your laptop keyboard with X and KDE," you should:

  • Open the Control Center.
  • Click on the Regional & Accessibility tab.
  • Pick the Input Actions option.
  • Add a group with the New Group command (give it a name such as Multimedia).

Then, for each key you want to program:

  • Add a new action to the group.
  • Go to the General tab.
  • Fill in the Action Name field.
  • Set the Action Type to Keyboard Shortcut -> Command/URL (Simple).
  • Go to the Keyboard Shortcut tab.
  • Click on the button and then press the Multimedia key (remember, you can use modifiers such as Shift, Alt, and Control).
  • Go to the Command/URL Settings tab.
  • Type in the appropriate command (for example, use remoot volup for the Volume Up key).

That's all there is to it. ReMoot makes handling multimedia keys both simpler and more powerful.

Categories:

  • Graphics & Multimedia
  • Desktop Software