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Lightweight podcatching client targets Linux users
Dec. 20, 2005

There's a new, minimalistic -- and reportedly fast -- podcatching client for Linux now available for free download. BashPodder is a podcatching client written in bash code that requires the bash shell, wget, and sed -- all three of which are typically installed on any Linux system.

This script will download the multimedia files from the sites named in the bp.conf configuration file and store them in a local directory for you to peruse at your heart's content with any audio player, the software's creator said.

A podcast is a method for distributing multimedia files using the RSS (Really Simple Syndication) standard. Podcatching clients, which receive podcasts, exist for Windows and Mac OS X, and now Linux.

Designed to be small but fast

The one we're spotlighting today, BashPodder, is currently licensed under the GPL and was written and maintained by creator Linc Fessenden with "the generous code contributions and great ideas of many of its users, some of whom have contributed modified scripts of their own," he said.

"BashPodder was written to be small and fast, and most importantly, to conform to the KISS rule (Keep It Simple Stupid)," Fessenden said. "That way, anyone can add to and detract from the script to suit their own needs (and they are welcome to do so)."

Fessenden said that BashPodder is listed in many places as strictly a "Linux" podcatching client, and that is what he wrote it for initially. But it transcends the Linux genre, he said.

"It should be noted that I have dozens of emails telling me how well it works on everything else, including -- but not limited to -- Mac OS X, Solaris, AIX, Net Open and FreeBSD, even Windows and many other OSes I have forgotten," he added.

BashPodder encompasses only 44 lines of shell scripting code.

"Well, to be really fair, it could be a lot less," Fessenden told via email. "There are some comment lines in there, and some of the code was left expanded so it would be easier to read and follow. Back in its infancy, enclosures in rss feeds weren't particularly difficult to isolate, and since they are basically URLs, I figured there had to be a way to parse them out quickly and download them."

Works with all distros

Does BashPodder work with all distros? "Every one of them with the necessary software packages," Fessenden said. "Thankfully, all default Linux installs I have used have the things you need (like bash and wget and sed)."

Fessenden said he wrote BashPodder because "I wanted to try getting these podcasts, and I tried two other Perl-based clients that didn't work, so I wrote my own. Since I was familiar with doing some bash scripting, I thought it would be fairly easy to do that way, and an hour or so later it was all working.

"I figured I would make it available for other people to use and adjust as they wanted, and the response has been almost overwhelming. Even the user contributions are fantastic. People have written different things into BashPodder that will do almost anything you can think of -- from GUI clients to BitTorrent downloads to automatic uploading to their favorite mp3-playing device.

"I have even gotten letters from people using it to keep their software mirrors up to date," Fessenden said.

Once you've got your client, finding interesting podcasts is a breeze. Some of the more popular podcast aggregation sites include,,, iTunes or any number of others.

You can download your copy of BashPodder here.

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