The problem

I'm trying to use dbus to control multiple instances of VLC media player from the terminal.

Using dbus for a single instance of VLC is no problem: as soon as VLC is started, commands like Play/Pause,

dbus-send --dest=org.mpris.MediaPlayer2.vlc /org/mpris/MediaPlayer2 org.mpris.MediaPlayer2.Player.Pause

work as expected. However, if I start a second instance of VLC, no dbus-send commands are ever registered by it. The first instance still register all commands fine, but the second instance does not react.

What I've tried

dbus-launch vlc

I've tried using dbus-launch vlc. Using only dbus-launch creates a session bus instance and prints its unique identifying address. You can even see the instances running using ps -aux | grep dbus. Using the address, you can send commands with dbus-send --address=X.

However, when using dbus-launch vlc, it will not print the information about the new bus to standard output (including its identifying address). So even if I could send commands to it using dbus-send, I have no idea what address to use. There isn't a way to specify what address the news session bus instance should use either.

If I could somehow get the address of the new instance created by dbus-launch, the problem would (theoretically) be solved.


Similarly to dbus-launch, you can use dbus-daemon to create a session bus instance, but you can also specify its address with the --address=X flag. Using dbus-send --address=X gives me a "Failed to open connection [...]" error though, and even if I were to solve that I have no idea how to hook a VLC instance to that specific session bus instance. I don't know how to proceed here.

1 Answer 1


Found your question while looking for an answer to my own problem. The guys over at dbus IRC channel helped me out with the answer.

dbus-send --print-reply --dest=org.freedesktop.DBus /org/freedesktop/DBus org.freedesktop.DBus.ListQueuedOwners string:org.mpris.MediaPlayer2.vlc

That will give you the destinations that you can loop through. It lists them like :1.25 :1.26, so your dbus-send will look like this (note the colon is needed!)...

dbus-send --print-reply --dest=:1.25 /org/mpris/MediaPlayer2 org.mpris.MediaPlayer2.Player.Pause
dbus-send --print-reply --dest=:1.26 /org/mpris/MediaPlayer2 org.mpris.MediaPlayer2.Player.Pause

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