The mp3 audio file format is widely used and was originally entwined in legal issues that discouraged the development of free and open source software tools. The mp3 codec was patented and a license was required to use it, at odds with freely available players. The patents seem to have mostly expired now and the community is more at ease using the mp3 format. The capture of audio in digital form is performed by an encoder. A popular encoder for the mp3 audio format on GNU/Linux is lame.
To address the freedom limiting issues around the mp3 audio format an alternative audio format was developed called Ogg Vorbis (with the ogg extension). Many utilities were developed to support the Ogg Vorbis format.
A third common audio file format is flac.
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