Trying to Play Some Music Files in My Car

I was thinking about external storage about a week ago and thought, “Looks like I could use this in my car.” Not a second later, I said, “Why the hell didn’t I do that before?” For a while, I’ve used CDs and Bluetooth connectivity in my 2014 Honda Civic LE. It had not really dawned on me that the car has a couple of USB ports for hooking things up to it. In between the seats is a USB port for connecting an external storage device such as a hard drive. In this case, I used an external SSD I had lying around. So I threw most of my music collection on that thing, hooked it up to my car, and started listening to some tunes while driving. About halfway through an Aerosmith album I noticed that the songs weren’t in order. This struck me as strange, so I did some digging.

When I put the songs on the SSD, I also put in a “playlist.m3u” file (standard text file for audio playing apps) just in case the music player could read those files. The files are organized into their own hierarchy of directories (artist, then album, and finally songs). Heck, some of the files begin with a number indicating which position they are on the album. Yet my car wouldn’t play them in the order the recording artists intended. So I did some more digging.

Turns out that music players in cars don’t play the files in numerical order, let alone follow a “playlist.m3u” file. It looks like they’re played according to how the files were put on the storage medium. What I had done was formatted the SSD to FAT32, and put the files on to the drive in whatever order I chose. Now I had to remove the files and put them back on to the drive in the play order of the album.

This process took about 20 minutes and it was pretty tedious, especially for the albums which weren’t ordered by number. After I did that, though, they were read in proper order.

Sorted files
Sorted music files in all their glory. Please excuse the dust.

So now that they’re properly sorted, I can listen to the albums at my leisure. Wouldn’t it be my luck (and my penchant to immediately jump on fixing technological things) that there’s a command line program which could fix the filesystem. In the next entry of that forum post I linked above, a user mentions the program and provides a link to the Github page. Surprisingly, the source files compile on GNU/Linux. So the next time I want to put a bunch of music files on a drive and have my car play them, I’ll use this program.

Jason Anderson

Jason Anderson has been hacking up computers for nearly 20 years and has been using Linux for over 15 years. Among that, he has a BBA in Accounting. Look him up on Twitter at @FakeJasonA and on Mastodon on

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