Simple mpd+ncmpcpp setup tutorial

23 Nov 2022


This tutorial does not cover any advanced features of mpd including streaming over a network. This is to help set up a local instance of mpd for a single user.


  • Your distro’s default repository ships with both mpd and ncmpcpp. (or you are able/willing to compile from source)

  • Your current audio server is Pipewire (run pactl info to confirm)

  • You’re using SystemD as your init system


Install required packages:

First you’ll need to install both mpd and ncmpcpp with your distros main package manager. Since I am on Arch Linux, I just have to run:

sudo pacman -S mpd ncmpcpp

If for some reason they’re unavailable, you may have to compile them manually. Additionally, you can install mpc to control mpd via command-line.

ex: mpc volume -2, mpc random on, etc.

This is useful for mapping mpd controls to keybindings.

Configure mpd

Now that mpd is installed, you’ll want to configure it. The system-wide config file for mpd can be found in /etc/mpd.conf. Since we’ll be running it as a user daemon, the config file must reside in your home directory. (specifically ~/.config/mpd/mpd.conf) First, make a directory for the mpd config:

mkdir ~/.config/mpd/

Then copy the config file over.

sudo cp /etc/mpd.conf ~/.config/mpd/mpd.conf

Now open that file in your favorite text editor (for simplicity sake I’m using nano in this example):

nano ~/.config/mpd/mpd.conf

Make sure your music and playlist directories are set correctly.

music_directory    "~/Music"
playlist_directory "~/mpd-playlists"

The next thing you’ll want to do is find the list of audio outputs in the config and add the following:

audio_output {
    type         "pipewire"
    name         "Pipewire Multimedia Service"

This creates an audio output for pipewire. Feel free to name it whatever you’d like.


ncmpcpp has this really neat music visualizer feature. For that, you’ll need to add this as an output:

audio_output {
    type                    "fifo"
    name                    "Visualizer"
    path                    "/tmp/mpd.fifo"
    format                  "44100:16:2"

That should be it for configuring mpd. Now to start it!

Starting/stopping mpd

You can start mpd (as a user daemon) with the following command:

systemctl --user start mpd

If you’d like mpd to autostart at login:

systemctl --user enable mpd

If you’d like to stop mpd:

systemctl --user stop mpd

Once mpd is started, open a terminal and run: ncmpcpp

Voila! You now have mpd running with ncmpcpp as a front-end for it. To show the keybindings for ncmpcpp, press F1.

This may be a simple tutorial, but I hope it can prove to be useful!


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