Installing Audacity MP3 export support on Linux

Audacity icon Audacity is a very good free and open source audio editing application for Windows, Linux and Mac OS X.

Unfortunately, due to patent restrictions, it is unable to import, export and manipulate MP3 files in the default install and this problem is usually present in the Linux version.

It is quite easy however to get the MP3 support up and running however, with a simple install of the LAME MP3 encoder and then providing Audacity with the correct location of the library it needs. Once you have this in place, MP3 support should work across the board.

I'll be showing this process on my Fedora 7 system, using Audacity 1.3.2 beta from the Fedora repositories but it should work with other Audacity installations on Linux (and other Unix-like operating systems too).

If you try and open an MP3 file at the moment, you'll probably be greeted with a message such as this one:

LAME error message

So let's get some LAME. You might be able to get this from your distribution, but that will usually involve enabling custom repositories, so it's often easier to compile yourself.

Head over to the LAME site and download the source code for the latest version (that's 3.97 here). Now it's pretty much a standard compile install.

$ tar xzvf lame-3.97.tar.gz
$ cd lame-3.97
$ ./configure
$ make
$ su -c "make install"

That final step will be sudo make install for Ubuntu and other distributions that use sudo.

Now that we have LAME installed, it should be a simple case of pointing Audacity back in the right direction. Back in Audacity, head to Edit > Preferences.

On the File Formats tab and under the MP3 Export header, click the Find Library button. Provided you installed lame in the default locations and didn't change any options, the library you need should be located at /usr/local/lib/

Choosing this file in the file selector should enable MP3 export (although I did have difficulty importing MP3 files and this may unfortunately involve a recompile of Audacity or finding a third-party package built with MP3 support enabled).


Avatar for peter Peter Upfold -

Peter Upfold is a technology enthusiast from the UK. Peter’s interest in Linux stems back to 2003, when curiosity got the better of him and he began using SUSE 9.0. Now he runs Linux Mint 9 on the desktop, runs a CentOS-based web server from home for his personal website and dabbles in all sorts of technology things across the Windows, Mac and open source worlds.

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Discussion: Installing Audacity MP3 export support on Linux

  1. # Posted on 05 October 2007 at 07:49 AM

    [...] our sister site, explains how to install Audacity MP3 export support in Linux. Especially helpful if you’re trying to release a podcast. [...]

  2. # Posted on 09 October 2007 at 08:23 AM

    [...] Mission one! Audacity is available from Mission two! (following the Beyonce theme here), get the MP3 plug in. There’s no need to waste hard drive space exporting to .wav when you can use MP3. For Windows or Mac OS X, follow the instructions on the Audacity web site to get something called the LAME library file and enable Export To MP3. For Linux users, you’re just a lucky little ducky. Our sister site FOSSwire has the skinny on installing it for Linux. [...]

  3. Lindstrom (guest)

    # Posted on 27 April 2008 at 09:13 PM

    This little post saved my day. Thanks man!

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