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commute-tube is your friend on your daily commute. It will download videos of your interest to your USB pen by night so that you're able to watch the program in bus or train. It is basically a configurable wrapper for youtube-dl.

I made this tool because I was getting a new job with a daily commute via train attached. On that train ride no cellular network nor wifi was available. Despite wifi was introduced to the trains in the mean time, commute-tube still holds up by giving me instant access to the videos I want to watch without thinking about bandwidth and spinning loading wheels.

commute-tube is a tool written in Python and should be run in a headless environment such as a server with a USB pen attached. It will look for your USB pen. The only thing that should be done regularly is to plug in your pen after work and catch it before you leave the house.

Alternatively, it is possible to just download to a folder and synch this folder via rsynch to your laptop or smart device.


End User

Run pip install commute-tube.


Run pip install -e . in the checked out folder.


By running commute-tube commute-tube will look for the configuration file (see below) and start downloading to the configured download location.


See the example config.json file. The configuration is stored in $HOME/.config/commutetube/config.json.

The file already_downloaded.txt will hold all the files already downloaded. They won`t be downloaded in any following run.

pen section

In the pen section you may declare basic settings such as penPath (path to your pen), downloadFolder (the path where files are going be downloaded inside your penPath).

common subsection

The common subsection features settings that should be inheritet by all subsequent sources. Things like maximum download quality should be configured here.

source section

The source section contains all the various sources you want to download from. Besides description which contains a description of the source and shellscript all the parameters are basic youtube-dl options. See the youtube-dl implementation for a detailed overview over the parameters available and how to set them.

Shell script support

In addition to the youtube-dl wrapper it is possible to set the value shellscript which invokes a shell script or command that you specify and takes the output one line at a time for youtube-dl as input. This is helpful if you want to parse a video source that is not yet supported by youtube-dl.

For example, by this approach you can write a shellscript onliner which extracts a list of urls that is supported by youtube-dl.

The output of the shellscript is passed to youtube-dl.

File copy support

Basic files on your host file system are also supported. Use the path element for specifying a file to the USB pen. In order to avoid re copying of already copied files, files are checked for their checksum.

Changes to older versions

Both config.json and already_downloaded.txt are now stored in $HOME/.config/commutetube/. Their location can also be changed via command line arguments.

Best Practices

Here are some best practices listed that I've used on my daily commute ever since creating commute-tube.

Running commute-tube once every night

For my scenario I've created a Jenkins job that will trigger commute-tube every night at 4 am. The job does also do the following tasks and will upload the log file to an internet resource for me to monitor in case of something went wrong.

So far I was using two scenarios:

  1. Synch via wifi
  2. Copy to USB pen

Synching a folder to my laptop every morning

This one is my preferred way since it takes away the need to deal with a USB pen every day.

Instead I'm waking up my MacBook via a launchd job every morning and synch all the contents of the download folder via rsynch.

Working with a USB pen

Prior to the actual downloading, Jenkins also checks if the USB pen has been plugged in using the commute-tube --check command. If not plugged-in, Jenkins will remind me by sending a push notification to my phone.

Deleting contents of the USB pen

Eventually the disk space on your USB pen will run out. In my case I was using a Windows host system for watching the contents on my pen. I wrote a Windows batch file that moves all the contents of the Download folder of the pen to a sub folder called delete.

The nightly routine for starting commute-tube will then delete all the contents of the delete folder. This will also keep the files on the pen in case of error or when I forget to plug-in the pen.

Later I was switching over to a more automated process by writing something like this in my Jenkins job:

find /mnt/commute/Download/ -type f -mtime +7 -exec rm -v {} \;

This will delete all files older than 7 days.

Mount point for USB pen

Best way would be to use a FAT32 formatted USB pen. Since there is a good working and hassle free implementation of FAT32 on almost any Unix machine. At first you should create a mount point with mkdir /mnt/commuteUSB and after that configure /etc/fstab.

In order to do so, extract the UUID of your USB pen and put it into the /etc/fstab configuration. The user flag will allow any user to mount and unmount the pen by using mount /mnt/commuteUSB or umount /mnt/commuteUSB respectively:

[matze@beatle ~]$ sudo blkid
/dev/sdd1: LABEL="KINGSTON" UUID="25E6-B035" TYPE="vfat" PARTUUID="c3072e18-01"
[matze@beatle ~]$ cat /etc/fstab
UUID=25E6-B035    /mnt/commuteUSB  vfat   user,noauto,rw,umask=000              0  0

Mounting the USB pen

In earlier versions commute-tube brang it's own functionality for mounting and unmounting USB pens, I've found this behaviour rather unreliable compared to native mount mountpoint and umount mountpoint commands of the system. You'll be better of runnign something like:

mount mountpoint &&
unmount mountpoint ||
echo "Unable to unmount"

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