FM radio is not gone. In any case, it has evolved. Now you can listen to some of your local radio stations anywhere in the world. These stations are available to stream online, in a browser, or from a dedicated app.
Linux has a handful of high-quality, modern apps for streaming internet radio. If you haven’t developed a habit of listening to the radio on your computer yet, now might be the time to start.
Shortwave is an internet radio app designed for the GNOME desktop. This means that it has the advantages that generally apply to GNOME software. It’s easy. It is slippery. And it has an adaptive design that feels just as at home on a phone as it does on the desktop, if not more.
Shortwave has more than 25,500 available stations. The homepage pushes you in the direction of many popular options to start with. You can play them or add them to your own personal library for easy access later.
In the desktop format, the currently playing stations appear in a panel on the right. In a mobile format, the station appears at the bottom. In those times when you are listening to a radio station that plays music and it provides metadata for the stream, then Shortwave also offers the option to download the song.
GNOME is the default desktop interface for many of the most popular versions of Linux. This includes Fedora and Ubuntu. So if you are a new Linux user and landed on a GNOME based distro, Shortwave is probably the most well integrated and versatile option.
To download: shortwave
Tuner is an app for basic operating systems, although you can install it on any Linux distribution you want. The basic OS dock keeps the app close by and the sound indicator lets you pause and play your station without leaving the current app. If you have fallen in love with elementary OS then Tuner is a bit of a no-brainer.
But what about the app itself? Tuner’s search box does a great job finding stations, but if you don’t know what you’re looking for yet, Tuner puts an emphasis on helping you find new stations.
There’s a ‘Discover’ section that serves as your home screen, plus a section for ‘Trending’ and another labeled ‘Popular’. And if you didn’t find what you’re looking for after searching, there are music genres like “classical,” “electronic,” and “jazz” in the sidebar. If you know exactly which station you want, mark it with a star and return to it whenever you want.
Tuner is similar to Shortwave in features and feel. It is also one of the more approachable options to consider. But for those of you who dig a little more barebones or technical, what you’re looking for is further down.
To download: tuner
3. Good vibes
For some people, the above options are fine, but they are a little extra. Where is something simpler?
Goodvibes is a standard internet radio client intended for GTK based desktops. It will not be the first choice for people who are new to computers because you need knowledge of Internet radio M3U format. That’s because, although Goodvibes comes with a few baked-in stations, you’ll need to manually add new stations using an M3U URL. Goodvibes does not help you find new channels. You have to do that yourself in a web browser.
But there is a certain audience that prefers this type of app. This is a KISS like app in the same way Arch Linux is KISS. Goodvibes comes with the essential functionality to play and manage internet radio stations with absolutely nothing extra.
If Shortwave feels too GNOME and Tuner too elementary, that alone might be a reason to give Goodvibes a try. It’s a bit more desktop agnostic.
To download: Good feeling
4. GNOME Radio
Okay, so Goodvibes leaves you wondering what radio stations are out there. And even with Shortwave and Tuner, you may still need help weeding due to the sheer number of options. That’s where GNOME Radio comes in.
GNOME Radio, originally known as GNOME Internet Radio Locator, helps you find Internet radio stations based on their location on a map. This can help you find stations near where you live now, what’s going on in the area you moved from, or just pretend you’re living on the other side of the world for a day.
Once you’ve found a station, you don’t have to switch apps to start listening. You can click the channel or enter a channel name in the search box to start playback.
This isn’t the most mature project, but it’s one to watch. The developer has a blog that you can keep an eye on as the app grows. GNOME Radio’s approach is fun and different from the others on this list.
To download: GNOME radio
5. Advanced Radio Player
On KDE Plasma, you don’t need a full app to stream a radio station in the background. You can do that using a widget instead.
KDE makes it easy to download new components, such as widgets, to your Plasma desktop. Check out our general overview of how KDE’s “Get New” buttons work.
Once you’re all set, your internet radio stations will be available on your panel, where you can start or stop them at any time. As with Goodvibes, you have to manually add links to internet radio from a preferences window. The widget itself slides out of your panel and contains minimal information. The idea here is not to be distracting, but accessible.
To download: Advanced radio player
Didn’t find what you’re looking for?
There are many ways to listen to the Internet radio from your Linux desktop. If you don’t want a full app or a dedicated widget, you can choose not to install anything extra. Instead, go to the music player you already have installed.
A lot of music players like Rhythmbox and Clementine have the option to add internet radio streams. Or, if you prefer, you can head to quite a few websites to stream radio stations in your browser.