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How to convert media files on Linux with Curlew

Tired of fussing with the command-line to convert that MP3 file to a different format? Sick of reading guides to learn how to transcode a video file into a slimmer, smaller format? Look no further than Curlew: the simple media conversion tool that lets you convert media files on Linux with ease.

Install Curlew

Before we go over how to use the Curlew media conversion tool to transcode music and video files on Linux, installation is required. Follow the instructions below that correspond with your Linux distribution.


To get Curlew in Ubuntu, you’ll need to download the Deb package from the official developer website.  Unfortunately, because Curlew is hosted on SourceForge, it’s not possible to download it with a terminal command. Instead, to get it, head over to the download page and grab it. Then, launch a terminal window and use the CD command to move into your ~/Downloads folder.

cd ~/Downloads

Installing Curlew on Ubuntu requires the dpkg terminal package installer.

sudo dpkg -i curlew_0.2.5-1_all.deb

When you install a DEB package in the terminal, it’s very likely that errors will appear. These errors are dependency problems, and they happen when the dpkg program cannot correctly resolve the programs the package needs to run on Ubuntu. Luckily, this issue is quickly taken care of with the apt install command.

sudo apt install -f


Curlew has a DEB package (presumably for Ubuntu users). However, as Debian and Ubuntu are the same, you’ll be able to get it working! Start by going to the official Curlew SourceForge page and downloading the latest version. After downloading it, open up a terminal window, and use the CD to the ~/Downloads folder.

cd ~/Downloads

Run the dpkg installation tool and load up Curlew on Debian.

sudo dpkg -i curlew_0.2.5-1_all.deb

Curlew is set up on Debian. The next step is to correct the dependency issues that may arise by running the apt-get install command.

sudo apt-get install -f

Arch Linux

The Curlew media converter is available to Arch Linux users via the AUR. To interact with the AUR, use the Pacman package manager to install Git and Base-devel.

sudo pacman -S git base-devel

With the packages working, use the git clone command to download the latest version of the Curlew AUR snapshot.

git clone https://aur.archlinux.org/curlew.git

Move the terminal window from the home directory into the new curlew code directory.

cd curlew

Build an installable Curlew package with the makepkg command. Keep in mind that when building the program, dependency issues may arise. If this happens, check Curlew’s official AUR page.

makepkg -sri


To get the Curlew media converter on Fedora Linux, you must add the RPM Sphere third-party software repository. To add it, open up a terminal window and create a new repo file with touch.

sudo touch /etc/dnf.repos.d/rpm-sphere.repo

Open up the new RPM Sphere repo file in Nano, with root privileges (via sudo).

sudo /etc/dnf.repos.d/rpm-sphere.repo

Paste the code below into the Nano text editing program:

name=RPM Sphere

Finally, install Curlew on Fedora with the DNF packaging tool.

sudo dnf install curlew -y


SUSE users can install Curlew via the Packman software repository. Enter the command below to add it to your system.

LEAP 15.0

sudo zypper addrepo https://packman.inode.at/suse/openSUSE_Leap_15.0/ packman

LEAP 42.3

sudo zypper addrepo https://packman.inode.at/suse/openSUSE_Leap_42.3/ packman


sudo zypper addrepo https://packman.inode.at/suse/openSUSE_Tumbleweed/ packman

Install the program with:

sudo zypper install curlew

Generic Linux

Those that can’t get the Curlew media converter application for their Linux distribution need to build the program from source. Open up a terminal and follow the step-by-step instructions to get it running on your Linux PC.

Step 1: Install the dependencies needed to build the program. Specifically, you’ll need python, python3-gi, python3-dbus, gir1.2-gtk-3.0, libav-tools (or ffmpeg), xdg-utils, mediainfo, librsvg2-bin, intltool, and gnome-icon-theme-symbolic.

Step 2: (https://sourceforge.net/projects/curlew/files/curlew-0.2.5/curlew-0.2.5.tar.gz/download) Download the Curlew source code from SourceForge.

Step 3: Extract the source code with tar.

cd ~/Downloads
sudo tar -xvzf curlew-0.2.5.tar.gz

cd curlew-0.2.5

Step 4: Build and install the program on your Linux PC.

python3 setup.py install --prefix=/usr

Curlew – convert audio files

Curlew is excellent at converting audio files into different formats. To convert an audio file, open up the app and select the “add files” button.

Use the file browser to locate the audio file you’d like to convert. Alternatively, open up the Linux file manager, browse to the location of the audio file you wish to convert, select it with the mouse and drag it into the Curlew window.

Click on the button at the bottom of the page and choose your audio format. When you’re satisfied with the format, click the “Convert” button at the top to start the conversion process.

The transcoded audio file will appear in the same directory as the original one.

Curlew – convert video files

Need to convert a video file on your Linux PC? Curlew can do it! Launch the program on your desktop, then click the “add files” button (you can also drag the file into the program window from your file manager, like with audio files).

With the video file added to the Curlew queue, you’ll need to select the format to transcode to. Click the button at the bottom and use it to browse for the codec.

When everything looks good, you can convert the video file in Curlew by clicking the “convert” button at the top.

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