Angetestet: Audio transcription with f4 (Linux)

Some news for all those who are doing qualitative research and who are working with Linux: There is a Linux version of „f4“, a software to transcribe interviews with. f4 is no free software, but at least, there is a Linux version and it is free of charge. But let me mention it right on the start: There are still problems with the available audio players depending on the player and exact versions you are running, especially under Ubuntu Lucid (10.04).

As the online documentation is poor / outdated / German only or given in personal e-mail support (helpful support, as I was told), I will show the installation process of f4 here. In the first paragraph, you can read what I found out about non-working media players/versions. If you have a possibility to run VLC 1.1.4, in the second part, you’ll see how to install f4 without using the command line. Further down: how to install it using a terminal.

Media Players

Under Linux, f4 will recognize mplayer and VLC media player. Want you want is VLC version 1.1.4. Those who are running Ubuntu Lucid LTS (10.04), will encounter the following problems (at least right now, 2011/02/08):

  • mplayer 1.0 (default version in Lucid) does actually work, but it can only start and stop the audio player (with the F4 key). Neither will you be able to control the play back speed, nor to pull the cursor a few minutes forwards (this can cause a complete crash of f4), nor to use the F4 key if you are writing in a program other than f4 itself (like OpenOffice or LibreOffice) as described in the f4 tutorial.
  • VLC media player 1.0.6 (default version in Lucid): does not work at all.
  • VLC media player 1.1.7 (current version in this ppa does not work at all.

You can consider to upgrade to Maverick (10.10) with VLC media player 1.1.4. At the moment, this is a working combination. (Do not try to force the Maverick version into Lucid!)

Installation (graphical user interface)

  • Ask for a download link by leaving your e-mail address here:
  • Save the file F4_lin32.tar.gz (for example in your home directory /home/user).
  • Open the file manager, find the file and right-click on it. There should be a possibility to „unpack“ the archive „here“. Choose it.
  • A new directory called „F4“ will be created. Inside, there is a (among others) a file named „f4“. Double-click on it, and the program should start.

Create a launcher for your Gnome panel or desktop

If you prefer a graphical launcher:

  • Right-click on the panel or desktop to add a new launcher. Choose the point that lets you customize your own one.
  • The type of your launcher is „application“. Fill in the path to your f4 file (the one you used to launch the program). You can use the button next to the field to find the file. There even is an icon in the F4 folder („icon.xpm“). The whole thing might look like this:
  • Create a launcher for your panel
  • You should now see the orange button in your panel or on the desktop and be able to launch f4 with it.

Installation (command line)

  • Ask for a download link by leaving your e-mail address here:
  • Save the file F4_lin32.tar.gz (for example in your home directory /home/user ).
  • Open a terminal, change to the directory you saved the file in (cd /home/user).
  • Unpack the archive: tar -xzvf F4_lin32.tar.gz
  • If you run ls next, you’ll see the new directory called „F4“.
  • Start the program with ./F4/f4

The people of uploaded nice video tutorials (in German) to youtube: and

We could summarize: f4 is still quite unreliable for Linux users, as it depends very much on the VLC version. Not long ago, the working version was in the ppa for Ubuntu Lucid, a simple upgrade made it stop working. But of course, hopefully one day…

3 Antworten zu „Angetestet: Audio transcription with f4 (Linux)“

  1. Miriam

    As an alternative to f4 I use Amarok to transcribe.

    Though it has not as many features as f4 like looping and so forth, I like to work with it, cause it has customizable global shortcuts so that i can control it when writing in an editor, and the ability to jump a few sec. forth and back while playing an audiofile. That’s basicly all I need for transcribing 🙂

    1. silke

      Thanks for this advice! I actually never tried it with Amarok (through I used it as a music player for quite a long time). Fine!

  2. Christoph

    Actually, F4 works with VLC or GStreamer. Select the Player, which F4 should use in the File->Preferences->General -menu. If theres no GStreamer available, you should update your F4 (Help->Check for updates) – then you must install the gstreamer-plugin (help->install addons) and restart F4.