Gradio - a Neat GTK3 Internet Radio App
By Andrew Powell, published 17/05/2017 in Overviews
It's not often that I use internet radio applications, or even internet radio itself, but when a situation arose recently where I was seeking some online radio streams, I also then went delving into seeing what internet radio applications were available on Linux. Running a GNOME desktop, a GTK3 app like Gradio made sense.
So, with that said, I won't pretend to be a connoisseur of internet radio applications or try to make out that Gradio is the best of them all, because quite frankly, I wouldn't know. But being that I was specifically seeking an app that would blend in well and play nice in a GNOME-y kind of way, I was pleased to find Gradio.
I actually went looking for a radio streaming program in a bit of a hurry - trying to find a sports broadcast, after a particular website was insisting on Flash for online radio playback (looking at you, AFL.com.au) and therefore my attempts at streaming a radio broadcast through the sports website wasn't going to be possible on my computer, unless I went and installed that horrible Flash thing that many of us don't even bother with anymore. Even worse, I use to look in the web inspector to find the raw radio URL and just stream it using something like MPlayer or MPV like I normally do. But somehow, they seem to be hiding the URL now. Oh joy! Thanks, corporate suit guys.
Thankfully, in the case of my Arch Linux machine, Gradio was easy to find in the AUR and was installed in less than a minute. Even better, it let me find what I was looking for and provided with the exact radio stream I was seeking. All in all, huge success.
The interface is your typical GTK3 fare, love it or hate it. Big Client Side Decoration header bars with integrated controls, dynamic and animated elements like the playback bar that slides in and out depending on whether something is playing, and a select range of buttons that stand out in the interface that do the most used functions, like search or marking an item as a favourite and so on and so forth.
Searching for a radio station is quite easy - you can use the global search, which will search pretty much literally globally. The search is quite fussy, I found, as I had to type some station names pretty exact, sometimes even down to being case-sensitive, to get exactly what I expected, but it does work and no doubt has to go through quite a number of online stations. Considering that last point, the speed that Gradio fetches results is fairly impressive. Not lightning quick, but generally decent.
Even better though, you can in fact list all stations by country instead, giving you an extensive list of stations you'll no doubt recognise (and some that you won't, I'm sure!) all from your own country, or whatever country you choose.
Simply clicking on a station will start playback, while alternatively, right clicking on a station in the list will reveal one of the funky little integrated animated slide menu things that GTK3 applications make use of, giving you extra menu items including Play/Stop, Like or Favourite. And yes, once playback commences on a stream, you'll get a playback progress bar and "album art", for lack of a better term, at the bottom of the app similar to most GNOME-oriented audio applications. You also get nifty MPRIS audio integration, so again, Gradio will integrate itself well into a GNOME environment by making itself available to the audio indicator.
Other than that, the app just does what you would expect: gives you a list of radio stations and, well, plays them. As sneekylinux from YouTube would say, it "just does what it says on the tin".
I didn't find too many bugs or issues with Gradio, though once or twice using the Favourite feature the app seemed to freeze momentarily, but did come back to life. Streams using the AAC codec would also complain about missing codecs every now and again, despite my system absolutely having that codec available, and even stranger, despite complaining about it being missing, the stream still played! But no matter.
The GitHub page for Gradio has a list of packages that are available for some of the typical distros, such as Ubuntu, Fedora, openSUSE, Arch Linux and Solus. It's easy to get Gradio on any of those distributions, though Ubuntu needs to be version 16.04 or higher to satisfy GTK3 requirements. Same with Fedora, needing to be at least Fedora 24 and up.
Or try from Source and cross your fingers...
For the unsupported distros or if you just want to be like, totally more hardcore, you can install Gradio from source:
cd ~/Downloads git clone https://github.com/haecker-felix/gradio.git cd gradio ./autogen.sh make sudo make install
The Gradio GitHub page does also list Flatpak as an option as well, but as far as I could tell, that's only a Work In Progress at the moment.
Speaking of works in progress...
While the version referred to here is Gradio 5.0, there is a new development version (6.0) in the works right now.
According to the 6.0 development GitHub page, the interface will be shaken up a bit compared to what we've seen already with a new Discovery Page, easier selection mode, new settings page and basically a whole new station view page as well. For testers and the aforementioned hardcore crew, feel free to test out the gradio_6 branch, but of course beware of bugs, incompleteness and potentially setting your house on fire! Well, at least bugs and incompleteness.
Anyway, that's my look at Gradio and it's certainly serving my needs as a desktop online radio app. What's your favourite online radio app and why?