The Opinionated Media Center

posted may 20, 2012 at 6:00pm

Downloading, organizing, and playing media are three separate tasks. I don't need a torrent client that has a built in video player like vuze, and I certainly don't need a media player that looks up album information and moves my files around like xmbc.

This guide will walk you through how to download, organize, and play your music and television shows the sensible way—with the best linux tool for each task.


I wanted a simple bittorrent client that could handle:

All this insistence on configuration sounds excessive, but I wanted to run one bittorrent client per tracker I use. Keeping their files separate will make later steps simpler, and tuning throttling limits and minimum seed ratios per-tracker makes lot more sense to me than per-file.

The tracker that best fit the bill for me was…


To install on ubuntu, it's as easy as:

$ sudo apt-get install rtorrent

For each tracker, I created a watch directory for .torrents, a data directory for the completed files, and a session directory for rtorrent state.

Next, I wrote an rtorrent config file for each tracker:

Note that the port-range line should be different for each client, so they don't step on each other's toes. To starting rtorrent with a given config:

rtorrent -n -o import=~/incomplete/music/rtorrent.config

To add a torrent to the client, simply copy the file into the watch directory. For example, if your browser had downloaded a number of files from a tracker named

grep -l -Z ~/Downloads/* | xargs -0 -I f mv f ~/incomplete/music/watch


Next, the program you use to organize your recent download will depend (as it should!!) on the type of media.

beets is for music

beets is a command-line program that uses the musicbrainz database to tag files. Imagine if musicbrainz picard would shut up and get out of your way, and you've got beets.


$ sudo apt-get install beets


And run:

beets import -q staging/music/

filebot is for television and movies

filebot is pretty simple and fast. It guesses the series and episode number based on the filename, looks up the metadata for that episode, and then renames the files using a format you specify.


$ sudo apt-get install filebot


find ~/staging/television/ -type f -print0 | xargs -0 filebot --action move --format '/home/foo/library/television/{n}/Season {s}/{n} {sxe} - {t}' -non-strict -rename

Playing Files

I dunno broheim, just use whatever old player you like. VLC is nice, but maybe you'd rather have something with more or different buttons.


One thing all of the tools I have listed have in common is that they do not require user interaction to do their thing. That means they can work seamlessly with cronjobs, makefiles, scripts—your current automation stack.

Tools that each do their own thing and work with your current workflow instead of forcing new ways of doing things on you. What a concept.