The DistRogue

Friday, April 04, 2008

Why I Really Hate Linux: Substitute Applications

On Windows, most people manage their music libraries via iTunes, the nice, user-friendly music manager that everyone knows about. But here on Linux, we're expected to use some program called Amarok that nobody's heard of. And it sucks. I mean, here are the features:

Tag DatabaseNoYes
Lyrics LookupNoYes
Artist Info LookupNoYes
MP3 Player ManagementiPod OnlyYes
Album Artwork ManagementYesYes
CollectionNoYes RadioNoYes
Music StoreYesMagnatune Only
Plug-in SupportMac Only (via Applescript)Yes

Kidding aside (I know I'm 3 days late), Amarok seriously does have all these features. In addition, I'm running 4 scripts (911tabs, Tag Clouds, BPM Calc, and amaKode), and it still takes up less RAM than iTunes did on Windows. Plus, it has support for dynamic and static playlists like iTunes, along with a tagging system. Everything in it is very tightly integrated, as well. With version 2 (to go with KDE 4), they're going cross-platform, releasing an official Windows port.
Someone said that Amarok's iPod management is better than iTunes's. Not true. Whenever you add a song to an iPod Shuffle in Amarok, for instance, it's appended to the end of the playlist. Even if you drop it into a certain place, it will always be on the end. Maybe I'm just bitter about this because I use a Shuffle, but it's annoying enough to make me use GTKPod instead. On the other hand, Amarok can be used to submit plays from your iPod directly to, which iTunes can't.
The context browser on the left-hand side is also undeniably cool. It has tabs for an online lyrics search, song/artist/album information via MusicBrainz, and Wikipedia-based song/artist/album lookup. Through MusicBrainz, it can even guess the ID3 tags for songs you don't know.

A word on the music store: Amarok has built-in support for the Magnatune Music Store, which sells DRM-free MP3, FLAC, or OGG files, which you can re-download later if you delete them. You can pay $5 or more per album, depending on what you feel like giving them- $5 if you're a cheapskate, $10 or more if you feel generous. Of course, there's a catch- they have a *tiny* catalog. Still, there's something for everyone- I found a great album by a metal band called Utopia Banished and paid $10 for it after hearing the full-length previews.

Of course, if you want more, there's always's music store, which has its own Linux client and also sells DRM-free files.
Thanks to features like tags (which can be assigned to songs), collection browsing, auto-tagging, and an automatic track-scoring system, Amarok is ideal for people with huge music collections. Windows users, when Amarok 2 comes out, try it. You probably won't ditch iTunes, but you might end up not using it for anything other than buying music, if even that.
From SimplyMEPIS 7.0,
The Distrogue.

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Blogger Vincent said...

Odd... If you present it like this, Rhythmbox (and some other players too, I believe) has all the features you mention.
If I'm to believe everybody out there, then AmaroK is supposed to be a gazillion times better than everything.

Ah well, I'm not using it anyway, since I consider it ugly (all KDE apps, that is). Though then again, I almost never see Rhythmbox, as it's always minimized to my tray and controlled through my keyboard.

On the otherhand, Rhythmbox is probably faster on my Xubuntu system, so I guess I'll stick with that.

9:51 PM  
Blogger Rob said...

The first paragraph was all that was published in the RSS feed to tuxmachines. I was about to seriously flame you. :)

I love AmaroK. It's better than any player I used with winblows, and there's little things that I think make it better than rhythmbox and exaile.

10:58 PM  
Anonymous JohnMc said...

No jab, but are you really that lazy? so what if Aramork appends to the end of the list? You then just drag it to where you want on the the list.


11:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have tried:-
Exaile; Nice interface but buggy. Tends to lock up with streams.
Amarok; A bit cluttered but ok. However, radio stream playback is crap (mostly xine's fault I believe).
Rhythmbox; Looks ok but no live stream browser.

Now Use:-
Mplayer backend setup. SMPlayer (qt frontend) for video and Gmusicbrowser (music manager) for audio.
Streamtuner/Streamripper for internet radio and GTKpod for iPOD.

Best all round file support for music and video playback available. (Mplayerplugin - Firefox, w/codecs)

11:37 PM  
Blogger Yochai said...

I too, was on the path to flame until I read the rest of the article. Damn you tuxmachines!
Anyways good comparison report.
May I add one more thing? Itunes only supports 5 users through streaming-daap; that can seriously suck if you're trying to share with everyone!
I recently stopped using amarok after it deleted half my music; I think it was a hardy heron bug but just to stay safe I switched to exaile; then rhythombox, then finally: banshee. Yes, it's mono-centric but I like the fact that you don't have to use a playlist if you don't want to. Once they finalize the new plugins being developed, it'll equal amarok in ability.

1:09 AM  
Blogger DJ Gentoo said...

johnmc: Try doing that yourself, and THEN say that. Or are you really that lazy?
yochai: I tried a stable version of Banshee, but I'll definitely check out the rewritten version. Thanks for the tip.
I realize I didn't mention one really important thing: iTunes plays videos, while Amarok doesn't, and seeing as it's supposed to be an audio player only, this will probably never change.

12:49 PM  
Anonymous Svi Poslovi said...

I will never understand hating Windows but let's put that aside... You are not forced to use iTunes with Windows. iTunes are essentially Apple. What I urge you to think about are Autodesk products...

5:51 AM  

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