Rhythmbox and USB mass storage sync

In openSUSE, Rhythmbox has become my friend for managing my music collection. I couldn’t “sync” my music with my mobile easily as the Memory Stick (Pro) Duo card reader in my laptop isn’t operateable due to the proprietary transfer protocol for Memory Sticks. Today I got a USB all-in-one card reader stick and voila, the mobiles card got mounted fine. There was no sign of it in Rhythmbox, though. Checking the removable media option in the file menu didn’t help either. I then found the info that creating/touching a file called “.is_audio_player” could help Rhythmbox to detect the removable device. And it actually succeeded. Yikes.

The next hurdle to take was the placement of the files when you drag them onto the removable device shown in Rhythmbox. By default, the files would be placed in the root of the device. As the folder for mp3s is actually “mp3” on the Memory Stick, we have to open the prevoiously created “.is_audio_player” file and place the following content into it:


This tells Rhythmbox to place any files into the “mp3” folder of the Memory Stick and create a “<Artist>-<Album>” directory where the songs are stored. Specifying “folder_depth=2” would actually create a folder for the artist and below that one a folder for the album. But that’s not my preference.

So, all in all I am quite confident with this now. But the question remains why one has to search the net for such information, hand craft a file and put obviously undocumented – or at least not easily findable – configurations in there? Rhythmbox has support for the Media Transfer Protocol (MTP) which could make live easier, but this doesn’t account for pure USB mass storage devices. So at least that part should be configurable within the music management application itself. Room for improvement.

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10 Responses

  1. atla says:

    Seems you finally also got caught by linux 😉 funny how things work out.

    Concerning the audio player hassle you can not really expect linux to recognize a *memory stick* as a usb audio player (at least i would not, and i don’t think other systems treat them as audio devices by default).
    On the other side it’s nice to know how to configure it, i didn’t know before, so nice info!

    Greetings from southern germany,


  2. emwe says:

    Hey Marcus,
    I am not caught, but I mostly have everything I need in an easily maintainable and extensible fashion 😉 But it’s a good base, yes. And when it comes to a good combination between UI and console, a Linux distribution is the way to go, when you keep any BeOS-derivate out of scope. Privately, I have no other way of building Haiku, so there is no option left. Except I follow Maurice’ and Karstens crazy adventures with cygwin and mingw 🙂

    When it comes to USB mass storage, well. The device should have at least been listed in the UI so that one can drag stuff onto it. That was my main point of complain. Nevertheless, I think I am going to have fun with Banshee on the long run…

    Was nice to have heard from you again, Marcus!
    Greetings from the upper areas 😉


  3. Luca says:

    Ehi, thank you very much! It works smoothly now with my Nokia N73! Great!

  4. malex says:

    Very useful tip, thanks a lot!!

  5. PeterJCLaw says:

    I was looking for a sync tool when I found your post. You might find http://blog.kevinmehall.net/2009/syncing-rhythmbox-with-portable-player interesting (I’ve not tested it yet though – I only just found it)


  6. Passy says:

    Y no sería más fácil crear en el usb que quieras meter música la carpeta “MTPMEDIA” ( crearla ) y ya así te lo detecta como un dispositivo MTP???. Es lo que yo hago para ello y me funciona XD Si a alguien más le funciona se puede ahorrar todo eso 😛

  1. 23/06/2010

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    […] my Droid as a mass storage device, I had to create a file in the root directory of my SD Card. Really. Magic! (The file in question is “.is_audio_player”). This does nothing, really, except make […]

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