How to Set Up The Ampache Streaming Music Server In Ubuntu


To follow this tutorial you will need:

  1. A PC with Ubuntu 12.04 LTS running LAMP
  2. Your own web address (optional – required for streaming music to external clients like your work computer or cell phone)
  3. Forward port 80 from your router to your ubuntu server (optional – required for #2 above)
  4. SAMBA/SWAT running on your server.

Each of these can be done for free by following each of the three nice tutorials linked below.


NB: The very last step of (4) is to login as a “member of the admin group” – you can ignore this and login to SWAT later when instructed to do so in this tutorial when you actually come to use it.

O.K. I will assume you followed these 4 guides and you now have an ubuntu 12.04 LAMP system running SAMBA/SWAT and a no-ip website address with port 80 forwarded to the ubuntu server.

Create Media directories

Create your media directory and a download directory and give them quite permissive permissions so anyone can access the folders on your network. Please note that you need to exchange <ubuntu username> for your own ubuntu username.

sudo mkdir ~/music
sudo chmod 777 ~/music
sudo mkdir ~/downloads
sudo chmod 777 ~/downloads

The permissions are set with the 777 code and it means that anyone with access to the system can read, edit, and run the files contained within. You could set more restrictive permissions here but I prefer easy access to my media folders.

Setup windows folder sharing using SWAT

On a web browser log in to SWAT as the admin: go to: http://<Ubuntu server hostname>:901 eg: http://amapche:901 Now, login with user name: “root” and your <root user password>.

Click on the shares box at the top. Now click “create share”.

Enter the following into their respective boxes. Please remember to exchange <ubuntu username> to your own ubuntu username.

path:        /home/<ubuntu username>/music
valid users:    <ubuntu username>
read only:    no
available:    yes

Now click commit changes. Now click advanced and set all the “masks” to 0777.

Click “commit changes” again.

Now click basic and “create share”. Repeat the process for your “downloads” folder.

You should now see your ubuntu server on the network and have access to the two shared folders you created provided you remember the <SAMBA user password> you set. Again please note this is quite permissive and gives everyone on the network easy access to the music and downloads folder provided they know the <SAMBA user password> when they try to access the folders.

Now you are ready to download and install ampache. At this point i like to start the copying of my music over to the shared music folder as this will take some time. Hopefully it will be done by the time I’m done installing ampache.

Install Ampache

Download and unpack ampache

Go to your putty terminal and enter

cd ~/downloads

Go to right click the latest tar.gz link and copy the link to the clipboard and paste it into the terminal as in the following line (after typing “sudo wget” then add the “-O ampache.tar.gz” part):

sudo wget -O ampache.tar.gz

Untar the tarball into an appropriate folder:

sudo mkdir /usr/local/src/www
sudo chmod 7777 /usr/local/src/www
sudo tar zxvf ampache.tar.gz -C /usr/local/src/www

Note the name of the root folder eg ampache-3.6-alpha6 use the noted name where you see this in the following text.

Relax the permissions on the extracted folder:

 sudo chmod -R 7777 /usr/local/src/www/ampache-3.6-alpha6

For securities sake, we will, once installation is complete give ownership of the extracted folder to the web-server and tighten permissions up again.

Enable php-gd in apache web server to allow for resizing album art:

sudo apt-get install php5-gd
sudo /etc/init.d/apache2 restart

Create a link from the web-server root folder to the extracted ampache site:

cd /var/www/
sudo ln -s /usr/local/src/www/ampache-3.6-alpha6 ampache

Doing it this way allows us to move websites around and rename them with ease.

Online initial ampache configuration

Go back to your web browser and go to: http://<Ubuntu server hostname>/ampache

If all went well so far you should see the start of the installation process. Note that since you used ubuntu 12.04 LAMP server all the little OK’s are nice and green indicating that the system is ready to have ampache installed.

Click to start the configuration and fill in the boxes as follows

  • Desired Database Name        – ampache
  • MySQL Hostname             – localhost
  • something else I forget        – <leave blank>
  • MySQL Administrative Username     – root
  • MySQL Administrative Password     – <mySQL root password>
  • create database user for new database [check]
  • Ampache database username     – <ampache database user name> eg ampache
  • Ampache database User Password     – <ampache database password> eg ampachexyz123blahblah6htYd4
  • overwrite existing [unchecked]
  • use existing database [unchecked]

Here I recommend that you do NOT use your <ubuntu username> as the <ampache database user name> or the <ubuntu user password> as the <ampache database password> for simplicity. I recommend you use a new username and password here as they will be stored in clear text inside your config file and anyone reading them could gain control over the whole system if you used the ubuntu username and password here.
You only need to remember the database username and password for the next step. They are for ampache to use not you.

Click “insert database” and then fill in the boxes for the next section as follows:

  • Web Path         – /ampache
  • Database Name         – ampache
  • MySQL Hostname         – localhost
  • MySQL port (optional)     – <leave empty>
  • MySQL Username         – <ampache database user name>     or root
  • MySQL Password         – <ampache database password> or mysql root password

Click “write”.

Note that the red words turn into green OK’s.

Click to continue to step 3.

Create the admin user passwords
Ampache admin username    – <apache admin username>
Ampache admin password    – <Ampache admin password>
Repeat the password

Here I usually use a password I can easily remember as I will need to use this to access the ampache site whenever I want to use it.

Click to update the database.

Click return.

The main ampache login screen should open and you can log in with the ampache admin username and password you just set.
DONT forget this password as its quite a pain to reset it.

Now you should see the main ampache interface. Ampache is up and running but needs some more specific configuration before you can use it.

Ampache user specific configuration

Back to the putty terminal.

First we’ll create a space to drop the error logs so you can locate any issues later:

sudo mkdir /var/log/ampache
sudo chmod 7777 /var/log/ampache

Now we’ll create a temp directory to store zip files for users to download songs, albums, and playlists.

sudo mkdir /ziptemp
sudo chmod 7777 /ziptemp

Now we will start editing the ampache config file:

sudo nano /usr/local/src/www/ampache-3.6-alpha6/config/ampache.cfg.php

Scroll slowly down through the file and edit each set of the appropriate lines to read as follow. I have titled the sets to help split up their use.
To speed things up You can use ctrl-w to search for specific config parameters

Network access – allow access from offsite:

require_localnet_session = "false"
access_control  = "true"

Allow zip downloads of songs/albums/playlists etc:

allow_zip_download = "true"
file_zip_download = "true"
file_zip_path = "/ziptemp"
memory_limit = 128

Aesthetic improvement:

resize_images = "true"

Allow comprehensive debugging:

debug = "true"
debug_level = 5
log_path = "/var/log/ampache"

Transcoding settings

Arguably transcoding is simultaneously the most powerful and most frustrating feature of an ampache install but please bare with me because you’ll be thankfull you got it to work. I’m going to explain a little about transcoding then I’m going to give MY version of the configuration file lines as they are in my file and the commands you need to run to install the additional transcoding software that’s required.

The way transcoding works is that ampache takes the original file, which could be in any format, and feeds it to a transcoding program such as avconv, which needs to be installed separately, along with a selection of program arguments depending on how the transcoding needs to be done and into what format the final file needs to be. The transcoding program then attempts to convert the file from one format to the next using the appropriate codec which also needs to be separately installed.

Since the ampache team has no control over the programs and codecs that carry this out there is only minimal help available for the correct syntax of the transcoding commands. I think the idea is that you should read the manual that comes with each program… Anyway, if any of your music is stored in anything other than mp3 you will need to get transcoding to work. Firstly the transcode command tells ampache the main file to use to start the transcode process. Next the encode args are what ampache adds to the main transcode command in order to modify the output format to suit the requested output format. With the new HTML5 player different browsers will request output in different formats for example, Firefox will request ogg, and chrome will request mp3 hence your encode args lines must be correct for both requested formats if you expect the player to work on different systems. At the time of writing the latest version of explorer was not capible of using HTML5 players, the bug is at there end but hopefully they will fix it soon. Until then you will need to use firefox or chrome to access the HTML5 player.

Here are the config lines for my transcode settings you will need to find the lines in the config php file as before and edit them to look as follows:

max_bit_rate = 576
min_bit_rate = 48
transcode_flac = required
transcode_mp3 = allowed
encode_target = mp3
transcode_cmd = "avconv -i %FILE%"
encode_args_ogg = "-vn -b:a max\(%SAMPLE%K\,49K\) -acodec libvorbis -vcodec libtheora -f ogg pipe:1"
encode_args_mp3 = "-vn -b:a %SAMPLE%K -acodec libmp3lame -f mp3 pipe:1"
encode_args_ogv = "-vcodec libtheora -acodec libvorbis -ar 44100 -f ogv pipe:1"
encode_args_mp4 = "-profile:0 baseline -frag_duration 2 -ar 44100 -f mp4 pipe:1"

I may come back and edit these later to improve video transcoding but for now they’ll do for music at least.

You may note the strange encode_args_ogg line. This is because at the time of writing the libvorbis library cant handle outbit sample rates less than 42 or so. For this reason I’ve added a bit to the line to force at least 42K bit rate.

OK save and exit the config file and we will install the missing programs and codec libraries.

If at any time you think you’ve ruined any particular config parameter you can open and check the distribution config file.
Do this with the command

sudo nano /usr/local/src/www/ampache-3.6-alpha6/config/ampache.cfg.php.dist

Transcoding software

Add the repository of multimedia libraries and programs:

sudo nano  /etc/apt/sources.list

Add the following two lines to your sources file:

deb /
deb-src /

Save and quit (ctrl -x then hit y).

Add the repository:

wget -O –|sudo apt-key add –

Install the compiler and package programs:

sudo apt-get -y install build-essential checkinstall cvs subversion git git-core mercurial pkg-config apt-file

Install the audio libraries required to build the avconv audio transcoding:

sudo apt-get -y install lame libvorbis-dev vorbis-tools flac libmp3lame-dev libavcodec-extra*

Install the video libraries required for avconv video transcoding:

sudo apt-get install libfaac-dev libtheora-dev libvpx-dev

At this stage support for video cataloging and streaming in ampache is limited so I have focussed mostly on audio transcoding options with the view to incorporate video transcoding when support within ampache is better. I’ve included some video components as I get them to work.

Now we’re going to try and install the actual transcoding binary “avconv” which is preferred over ffmpeg in ubuntu.
This part will seem pretty deep and complicated but the processes are typical for installing programs from source files in ubuntu.
First you create a directory to store the source files, then you download the source files from the internet, then you configure the compiler with some settings, then you make the program and its libraries into a package, then you install the package.

Note that the “make” process is very time consuming (and scary looking) particularly for avconv. Just grap a cup of coffee and watch the fun unfold until the command line appears waiting for input from you again.
Note also that some online guides suggest “make install” rather than “checkinstall”. In ubuntu I prefer checkinstall as this process generates a simple uninstall process and optionally allows you to easily specify the package dependancies if you so choose enabling you to share the packages with others.

(required) Get the architecture optimised compiler yasm

sudo mkdir /usr/local/src/yasm
cd ~/downloads

You could also go to and check that there isnt a version newer than 1.2.0 if you so choose and replace the link above with its link.

Unzip, configure, build, and install yasm:

tar xzvf yasm-1.2.0.tar.gz
sudo mv yasm-1.2.0 /usr/local/src/yasm/
cd /usr/local/src/yasm/yasm-1.2.0
sudo ./configure
sudo make
sudo checkinstall

Hit enter to select y to create the default docs.
Enter yasm when requested as the name for the installed program package.
Hit enter again and then again to start the process.

(optional) Get the x264 codec – required to enable on-the-fly video transcoding

sudo mkdir /usr/local/src/x264
cd /usr/local/src/
udo git clone git:// x264
$cd /usr/local/src/x264
sudo ./configure –enable-shared –libdir=/usr/local/lib/
sudo make
sudo checkinstall

Hit enter to select y and create the default docs.
Enter x264 when requested as the name for the install.
Hit enter to get to the values edit part.
Select 3 to change the version.
Call it version 1.
Then hit enter again and again to start the process.

(Required) Get the avconv transcoding program

cd /usr/local/src/
sudo git clone git:// avconv
cd /usr/local/src/avconv
sudo LD_LIBRARY_PATH=/usr/local/lib/ ./configure –enable-gpl –enable-libx264 –enable-nonfree –enable-shared –enable-libmp3lame –enable-libvorbis –enable-libtheora –enable-libfaac –enable-libvpx > ~/avconv_configuration.txt

Note the bunch of settings we have set in build configuration – the most important for audio transcoding are –enable-libmp3lame –enable-libvorbis
libmp3lame allows us to transcode to mp3 and libvorbis allows us to transcode to ogg, which is required for the firefox HTML5 player.

Now we’ll build avconv which takes ages. I’ve added the switch -j14 to runn multiple jobs during make. You may or may not have better luck with different values after the j depending on your own cpu architecture. 14 was best for me with my dual core hyperthreaded 8Gb RAM machine.

sudo make -j14
sudo checkinstall

Hit enter to select y to create the default docs.
Enter avconv when requested as the name for the installed program package.
Hit enter again and then again to start the process.

sudo ldconfig
sudo /etc/init.d/apache2 restart

Set up API/RPC access for external client program access

Next, in order that your iphone, android phone, or pimpache device  can access the music we need to set ACL/RPC and streaming permissions. NB: pimpache is not a typo but a “raspberry pi ampache client” project. It’s currently under construction and located on github under “PiPro”.

Go to a browser and login to ampache.

First we’ll create an external user. In the web interface click the gray “admin” filing cabinet on the left.
Click the “add user” link.
Create a username such as <external user>.
Give it a GOOD password <external user password> but also remember that you may well be entering the password for it on your phone.
Set user access to “user”.
Click “add user”.
Click continue.

You can create users for different situations as well as different people. For example I have a “work” user with a lower default transcoding bit rate and a home user with a very high transcoding default bit rate.
Set the transcoding bitrate for a given user by going to the admin section (gray filing cabinet) then clicking “browse users” then the “preferences” icon.
The default transcoding bitrate is then set in the “transcode bitrate” section.
Logged in users may also set there own default transcode bit rate by clicking the “preferences” icon in the menu tab then streaming.

Now we’ll add the API/RPC so the external user can get at the catalog.

In the web interface click the gray “admin” filing cabinet on the left.
Click the “show acls” link.
Now click the “add API/RPC host” link.
Give it an appropriate name such as “external” (no quotes).

  • level “read/write”
  • user external
  • acl type API/RPC
  • start end

Click create ACL.
Click continue.
Now click the “add API/RPC host” link AGAIN.
Give it an appropriate name such as “external” (no quotes).

  • level “read/write”
  • user external
  • acl type API/RPC + Stream access
  • start end

Click create ACL.
You may get the message “DUPLICATE ACL DEFINED”.
That’s ok.
Now click show ACLS and you should see two listed called external with the settings above – one for API/RPC and one for streaming.
You may see 4, thats ok as long ans external (or all) can get streaming and API access).

Now you can install and use many and varied clients to attach to your ampache server and start enjoying its musical goodness.
NB: The phones, viridian clients, etc will ask for a username, password and ampache url. Above, you setup an external username and password to use in just such a situation and the URL is the URL to your server from the outside world + /ampache.

If you want to use an internal network address you may need to specify the ip address rather than the server host name depending on your router DNS system.

Catalog  setup

Finally after all that your music will hopefully have finished copying over and you can create your ampache music catalog.

Click on the gray “admin” filing cabinet in your ampache website.
Click “add a catalog”.
Enter a simple name for your catalog eg “home”.
Enter the path to the music folder you’ve been copying your files across to ie if you created a shared folder and copied your music to it as described above the path is: “/home/<ubuntu username>/music”
(watch out for capital letters here, swap out the <ubuntu username> for the username you used, and dont use the quotes ” ).
Set the “Level catalog type” as local but note that you could potentially chain other catalogs to yours – how cool is that.
If you keep your music organised like I do then leave the filename and folder patterns as is.
Click to “gather album art” and “build playlists” then click “add catalog”.

Final security tidyup

In the putty terminal. We’ll restrict permissions to the extracted ampache folder to protect it from malicious software/people.

sudo chown www-data:www-data /usr/local/src/www/ampache-3.6-alpha6
sudo chmod -R 0700 /usr/local/src/www/ampache-3.6-alpha6/

That should do it.
If you need to move around in that directory again for some reason you will need to make the permissions more relaxed.
You can do this with

sudo chmod -R 0777 /usr/local/src/www/ampache-3.6-alpha6/

Dont forget to do

sudo chmod -R 0700 /usr/local/src/www/ampache-3.6-alpha6/

after to tighten it up again.

Now, go and amaze your friends and family by streaming YOUR music to THEIR PC or phone.


The best help I can offer is to look inside the log file if you followed the how-to above then you can find the log file at /var/log/ampache/.

cd /var/log/ampache

Note the latest file name then access the log file with (for example):

 sudo nano /var/log/ampache/yyyymmdd.ampache.log

Please, if you have any advice re: transcoding commands feel free to leave helpful comments. I think help on this is really hard to come by.

For starters the best info I can find for avconv in general is at

If you get permission errors when trying to copy to the music folder try again to relax the permissions on this folder with

sudo chmod 777 ~/music

Messed it up and want to start again from scratch?

Instead of reinstalling  ubuntu and LAMP and SAMBA you can delete ampache and its database with:

sudo mysql -u root -p

Enter your mysql password:

drop database ampache;


sudo rm -R /usr/local/src/www/ampache-3.6-alpha6
cd ~/downloads
sudo tar zxvf ampache.tar.gz -C /usr/local/src/www
sudo chmod -R 7777 /usr/local/src/www/ampache-3.6-alpha6  

That should get you reset with all the default settings and ready to try again from the intial web logon.


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