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Sunday, August 30, 2015

Installing the Asunder CD Ripper in Linux Mint with support for MP3 and AAC

When I decided to ditch Windows for Linux, I knew I would have make compromises.

For instance, you cannot run iTunes in Linux. Apple doesn’t make a Linux version of iTunes and trying to run the Windows version using the WINE translation layer yields mediocre results at best.

So I decided to forget about iTunes when it came to ripping music CDs.

Ripping audio CDs

Linux offers a plethora of options for ripping audio CDs. I wanted one, though, that used the same CD database that iTunes did, cddb, and could rip CDs to Apple’s .m4a format as well as the ubiquitous .mp3 format. I found those options in Asunder. 

You have two options for installing Asunder, the fully graphic installer and the quick command-line installer. I’ll start with the graphic method.

I’m using LinuxMint 17.2, the latest version of it, in these examples. Any Linux distribution derived from Ubuntu that draws its installation files from Ubuntu’s deep reservoirs of  programs can be used, though.

In Linux terms, these deep reservoirs of installable programs are called repositories. You can access them in several different ways. For Mac and Windows 8.1/10 users, the LinuxMint Software Manager resembles the App Stores in both of those systems.  You can also access them through the Terminal with command-line software.

The following screenshots show how to install Asunder with basic functionality from the Software Manager.

You find the Software Manager in the Administration section of the menu.

Annotated picture showing Administration and Software Manager

You have to enter your administrative password to use the Software Manager.


Recut Administrative password shot


You see the various categories of apps within the Software Manager.

The Software Manager interface

If you know the name of the app you want, just enter it in the search box and press the Enter key.

Now I came up with two instances of Asunder. One is for 64-bit systems and the other, the i386, is for 32-bit system. I chose Asunder for 64-bit systems.

I Found Asunder in two versions



Install Asunder from Software Manager



Just click on Install and Asunder and the other apps it depends on are installed.


Ausnder is installed

So far this seems as easy as installing from the App Store. Now comes the problem with Linux. Since a lot of the media encoders/decoders, called codecs, have legal entanglements, you may have to separately install apps to gain additional features. As I said, this is more of a legal problem, but it makes life more complicated for you.

Asunder  only installs the codec for the open-source Ogg Vorbis lossy format. You have to install the codecs for the other formats yourself.

So how do you install the codec for .mp3? You can go through the Software Manager, or you can go straight to the heart of the matter through the command-line.

Install LAME from the command line revised

So what does “sudo apt-get install lame” mean?

“Sudo” gives you temporary root access. It’s like 15 minutes of superpowers. 

“Apt-get” is the command line program that installs, removes, and upgrades apps. Software Manager is just a convenient way to install software with as little typing as possible. It uses “apt-get” to do the heavy lifting.

“install” is the command-line switch that tells apt-get what specifically to do. 

“lame” is the name of the software package you want to install.

“[sudo] password for thomas:” is where you enter your administrative password. “thomas” is just my user name, your user name would appear in its place. 

Now you won’t see the password when you type it, not even a line of placeholders. So type carefully!

Press the Enter key and the app’s installation begins. You’ll see text scroll down the Terminal. You may be asked whether you want to continue with a “y/n” question. Just press “y” and the Enter key to continue.

You would install the FLAC lossless compressed codec by entering this command line:

sudo apt-get install flac

Enter your password and press the Enter key. In a moment, you’ve installed FLAC.

Now for installing the Nero AAC codec for .m4a files.  (This will require some typing, but it’s worth it.)

As you see from Figure X, Asunder wants you to use the Nero AAC encoder. How do you get it? Does it cost any money?

Nero AG, the German developer of various CD/DVD burning programs, makes this AAC codec available for download for free! It makes a Windows and a Linux version.

Here’s the instructions, which I cribbed from this article. It gives instructions for both Ubuntu and Fedora, but I’m only using the Ubuntu instructions. 

Screenshot of instructions for installing Nero AAC

So set up a Terminal session. You will have to type in this installation, but just once.

mkdir AAC  Here you make a new folder in your Linux Home directory called AAC.

cd AAC/ Here you use the cd (change directory) command to move from the Home folder, indicated by the tilde (~) symbol, into your new AAC folder. Don’t forget the forward slash immediately following AAC.


 Now you get into the nitty-gritty. This command downloads the Nero AAC codec ZIP package into your AAC directory.

unzip -j

This is the command that unZIPs all the files to dump them into the AAC folder. The “-j” switch tells unzip not to follow the internal folder organization of the ZIP file. Just dump them into the folder in a pile.

sudo install -m 0755 neroAacEnc /usr/bin/ This command installs the Linux AAC Encoder in the proper folder. 

sudo apt-get install gpac This installs additional multi-media frameworks. 


Now if you use the 64-bit version of LinuxMint or another Ubuntu distribution, you need to follow this last step. I cribbed it from this article.

sudo apt-get install lib32stdc++6

You need this because the Nero AAC software only comes in the 32-bit version. You need that extra bit of software to make it work with a 64-bit system.

Now a shortcut in case your typing isn’t the best. Open this article in FireFox on your Linux machine. Now copy the code for each entry and paste it into the Terminal. Use the mouse’s right-click menu to paste in the code. Now press the Enter key and you’re good to go. 


Problems with Asunder

Asunder didn’t generate a valid .m3u playlist for .m4a. If you depend on playlists when playing or streaming music, then use another app to generate the playlist for AAC/.m4a files or stick to .mp3 when using Asunder.

The music quality for AAC using the Nero encoder was great! 

The Tangerine music streamer, which I wrote about here, works great with these .m3u playlists generated by Asunder when ripping CDs to .mp3 and streaming them to iTunes.


ITunes playing George Gershwin from Tangerine



The first playlist came from my ripping of this album in AAC format. The .m3u playlist file showed nothing and was only 8 bytes in size.

The second playlist came from my ripping of this album in mp3 format. The .m3u playlist file showed all 24 tracks and was 2.2 kilobytes in size.


Tom Briant

Editor, MacValley Blog


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