Usage information for Jack

This is just the manpage, converted to HTML.


Jack − rip and encode CDs with one command


jack [options]


Jack transforms your audio-CDs to MP3 or Ogg Vorbis files. It uses several helper programs in order to achieve things like ripping, encoding and ID3-tagging. Ripping is either done via cdparanoia (in which case the ripping status is displayed by Jack as well) or cdda2wav. Jack works with several encoders, namely oggenc, lame, gogo, bladeenc, l3enc, mp3enc and xing. Any time during operation (and even when everything is finished and the original CD lost) you can let Jack look up the track names at and rename the tracks accordingly. ID3-tagging of MP3s (or insertion of equivalent comment fields in Ogg Vorbis files) is performed as well.

If no freedb-lookup has been performed, Jack drops all files in a directory ~/jack/jack-xxxxxxxx, with xxxxxxxx representing the CD’s CDDB/freedb disc ID. This directory is renamed by Jack when the appropriate information is known.

Most options like ripper, encoder, preferred freedb-Server, directory and MP3-filename format, etc. can be user defined by changing the defaults in /etc/jackrc or by saving them to ~/.jack3rc.

While Jack is running, these keyboard commands are available:

q or Q


p or P

disable ripping (for example, if you need the CD drive)

p or P (again) or c or C

resume ripping

e or E

pause/continue all encoders

r or R

pause/continue all rippers.


Different options need different data-types as arguments:


can be "yes" or "no", like in −−vbr=yes


can be anything, like in −−rename−fmt "%n.%t"


an integer number, like in −−bitrate 192 (or −−bitrate=192 )


multiple strings, delimited by the final ";". Example: −−guess−toc file1.mp3 file2.mp3 ... fileN.mp3 \;

Jack understands the following options:


if known, append the year to dir in the format " (%y)"

−b, −−bitrate int

target bitrate (in kbit/s, default is 160).

−−char-filter string

convert file names using a python method

−−charset string

charset of freedb data (default "latin-1").

−c, −−check-toc

compare toc-file and cd-toc, then exit. Jack caches the TOC of a CD in a file ("jack.toc"). If you want to know if the inserted CD matches the toc-file in the current directory, use this option.

−C, −−claim-dir

rename directories even if they were was not created by Jack.


continue without freedb data if query fails.

−D, −−create-dirs

tells Jack to create sub-directories in which Jack puts all the files for the current CD. If no freedb data is available, i.e. when not using -Q , these directories will be named "jack-xxxxxxxx" where "xxxxxxxx" stands for the CD’s freedb-id. Otherwise dir_template (see above) will be used. This option is turned on by default.

−−device string

The device-name of your cdrom-drive. The default is /dev/cdrom

−−dir-template string

if directories are renamed, this is the format used (default "%a/%l")

−d, −−dont-work

don’t do DAE or encoding. This may be useful if you only want to do a freedb query.


open an editor to change the CDDB information which has been obtained previously (only useful with -Q).

−−encoder-name, -E string

use which encoder (default "oggenc")

−e, −−encoders int

encode how many files in parallel. If you have a SMP machine or simply want to stress your system, you can have Jack encode several files at once.

−x, −−exec

run predefined command when finished.


the artist is contained in the EXTT fields. The EXTT fields are lines in the freedb file which contain additional data for each track. As it’s the submitting user’s choice what to use them for, Jack can’t determine by itself what they were intended for. You have to provide this information.


the track title is contained in the EXTT fields.


a track comment is contained in the EXTT fields.


do not ask. Like when deleting incomplete files.

−f, −−from-tocfile string

rip from a cdrdao created CD image on hd. The specified toc-file contains the name of the image file. Use −F if jack can’t find the image file.

−F, −−from-image string

read audio data from image file. Like −−from-tocfile, but the image itself is specified instead of the tocfile. If you do not have a toc-file (or don’t specify a toc-file), the TOC is read from the CD itself.

−g, −−guess-toc list

make up a TOC from the MP3 file given in mp3_files. Format is track_01.mp3 ... track_nn.mp3 ; Note that the trailing " ; " is only necessary if you want to append more options to your command line. You can use it to do a freedb query based on MP3s alone - no need for the CD. Very useful if you have no idea which CD the MP3s are from. The MP3s must be given in the same order as they were on their CD. The generated TOC file is similar, but not identical to the TOC of the CD - do not submit these!

−G, −−id3-genre string

set ID3 genre. Use ’help’ to get a list of all known genres. (You can also specify the ID3v1 genre as an int)

−Y, −−id3-year int

set ID3 year.

−h, −−help

Show summary of options.

−k, −−keep-wavs

do not delete WAVs after encoding them.

−m, −−mail-submit

submit freedb entry via e-mail. HTTP submission is preferred. You will have to enter the category of the CD.

−l, −−max-load int

only start new encoders if your system’s load is below (max_load + num_encoders). If the load is too high, encoding operation is suspended until above criterion is satisfied.


try to query freedb for all dirs in searchdirs which have no freedb data.

−−my-mail string

your e-mail address, needed for freedb submissions.

−n, −−nice int

nice-level with which the encoders are started. Default is 12 which shouldn’t hurt your system much.


use this if freedb data says it’s "Various Artists" but you want the normal renaming scheme, e.g. if Jack can’t separate artist and track title.

−o, −−overwrite

overwrite existing files, i.e. do not check if already ripped WAVs or an already encoded file seem to be OK. Use this if you know something went wrong last time. This is off by default.

−O, −−only-dae

only produce WAVs, implies −−keep-wavs. This is off by default.


On-the-fly operation. Only on some encoders/rippers. Do not create WAVs, pipe ripper output through the encoder. Default is no as it’s a torture for the CDROM drive.

−o, −−overwrite=bool

overwrite existing files.

−−quality int

vbr encoding quality. -1 is lowest, 10 highest (default 6). You can also specify a float.

−q, −−query

do freedb query when all is done. This is useful if Jack was previously run without a freedb query. If all tracks are done you don’t even have to have a CD inserted as the TOC is cached by Jack. After having finished ripping and encoding, Jack will rename the files and tag them.


like −−query-now, but only if freedb data hasn’t been successfully queried before.

−Q, −−query-now

do freedb query when starting. Use this if you are connected to the Internet when starting Jack. Know that the query may need user-interaction. After having finished ripping and encoding, Jack will rename the files and tag them using Ben Gertzfield’s module.

−a, −−read-ahead int

read how many WAVs in advance. At most read_ahead + num_encoders WAVs are ripped before a track has completely been encoded. Default is 99 which will read the whole CD, provided there is enough disk space.


have Jack remove its temp jack*-files. Be careful - don’t delete them too early!

−R, −−rename

rename and tag files according to freedb file. On startup, Jack creates a blank freedb entry file (except if −−query-now is used, then the file is queried from your freedb server). If you have changed its contents (e.g. because the CD was unknown to freedb) and want to rename and tag your MP3s accordingly, use this option. Give all other needed options too, like −t , −E , ...


rename directory as well (default).

−−rename-fmt string

format of normal files (default "%n - %t")

−−rename-fmt-va string

format of Various Artists files (default "%n - %a - %t")

−r, −−reorder=bool

optimize track-order for disk space. This can save you some peak disk space during the encoding process; this may make it possible to do a CD which would otherwise fail to be encoded.

−−replacement-chars list

unusable chars are replaced by the corresponding list item (default "%").

−−ripper string

which program to use for extracting the audio data (default "cdparanoia").


save options to ~/.jack3rc file and exit.

−−scan-dirs int

Scan this many levels from the current working directory for a matching toc-file (0 to disable, default 2).

−−search list

add these directories to the list of directories searched when looking for the workdir (default ".").

−−server string

which freedb server to use. Don’t forget to set your HTTP proxy. Currently either "freedb" (default) or "freedb-de".


be quiet (no screen output).

−s, −−space int

forcibly set usable disk space, in bytes. This option lets you limit the disk space Jack uses, maybe you need it for something else? Be careful: if set too high or too low, ripping and encoding will probably fail. The default is to look how much is free and to use this value.


submit freedb entry via HTTP. You will have to enter the category of the CD.

−S, −−swab=bool

swap byte order from image file. As cdrdao momentarily only outputs "raw" .cdr files, you quite likely want to swap the byte order. Try this option if your WAVs and encoded files contain only noise. This is on by default as cdrdao currently generates .cdr files that are "wrong".


print what would be done and exit.

−t, −−tracks string

limit ripping and encoding to the specified tracks, use comma to separate tracks. Ranges are also possible; 5-9 is equivalent to 5,6,7,8,9; 12- is like specifying track 12,...,last_track. The default is to process the whole CD.

−u, −−undo-rename

undo file renaming and exit. If you don’t like how Jack renamed your files, use this option to restore the previous state. Several levels of undo are possible. Note that ID3 tags are not restored.

−−unusable-chars list

characters which can’t be used in filenames (default "/").


have Jack re-create its temp files. Use this if you deleted them too early.

−−update-freedb, -U

update the freedb info and exit.

−v, −−vbr=bool

Generate variable bitrate files, only on encoders which support this. Default is no.


when parsing freedb data, Jack assumes that if the disc´s artist is set to "Various" the track titles have the format "[artist] - [title]". If the disc title is set to something else and you still want the above behaviour, use −−various.


exchange artist and title, many freedb entries have them wrong.


wait for key press before quitting.

−w, −−workdir string

where to create directories and put the files.


write a smart id3v1 tag to the encoded file.


write an id3v1 and an id3v2 tag to the encoded file.


create a playlist in .m3u format. This has bugs, don’t rely on it.


Insert a CD, fire up jack:


Now watch it work. It’s fun for a while. After having finished, you have the following files on your HD: track_01.mp3, track_02.mp3, ..., track_nn.mp3 plus jack.toc, jack.freedb, jack.progress. The last three are used to store the state jack is in so it can resume work when interrupted.

Jack will create a directory called jack-xxxxxxxx for you, there it stores all the file for the CD whose id is xxxxxxxx. After a freedb query this directory is renamed to something human readable, like "Artist - Title".

When jack is interrupted, call it again using the same command line as before to resume work, in this case


Now let’s try a freedb query:

jack -q

when successful the files are now renamed to something more readable and have been ID3 tagged accordingly. jack.freedb contains the queried freedb entry, the original file has been backed up to jack.freedb.bak.

All in one: query, rip, encode, cleanup:

jack -Q --remove-files

Editing / normalizing / stripping the WAV files before encoding:

jack -O --remove-files ; gnoise *wav ; jack -g *wav ; jack

Just replace gnoise by the operation you’d like to perform.



Site-wide configuration file.


User-specific configuration file. Use the −−save option to save your configuration to this file.


Arne Zellentin <> is the author of Jack.


cdparanoia(1), cdda2wav(1), oggenc(1) and lame(1)

"All trademarks are owned by their owners" or whatever I have to state.
© Arne Zellentin,
(changed: Sunday, 28-Nov-2004 18:43:38 CET)