Music players again
#169 Henry, Wednesday, 18 July 2012 10:52 AM (Category: Music)
(Tags: amarok atunes xmms)

With all the recent changes and up and down Java access, I thought I would look at the music players on Linux again.

I started up the latest Amarok and checked it out. Amarok 2.5.0 is what's in Slackware now. I used to use Amarok a long time ago, and I really liked it. But then they upgraded it and I did not like the upgraded version so I stopped using it. The latest version is more of the same. I still don't like it. I think they have added back in everything they took out, but it no longer appeals. I used it for a while yesterday, but I'm not going to continue using it. I just don't like it. No real reason, but it just doesn't appeal.

I did get Java working, so I started up aTunes again. It's been giving me problems lately by asking to rebuild the repository every time it starts. The aTunes wiki says that this is often caused by corrupt configuration files and I should delete the $HOME/.atunes directory and start again. Well, if I am going to do that, I may as well try the latest version of aTunes too.

I was using aTunes 1.13.6 for a long time, and then they did a major upgrade. The upgrade brought aTunes into the modern world with notifications. Only problem was, my installation at the time did not have notifications and a system tray, so aTunes would lock up every time it sent a notification. Sure, that's my problem for using an older window manager like FVWM instead of a modern desktop. But that's my choice, so I went back to aTunes 1.13.6. I did see that they fixed those notification problems later on, but I didn't try out the newer versions of aTunes. But now it's time to try it out again.

The current version of aTunes is 2.1.0. Very nice installer, nice looking interface, but there are things I really do not like. I can turn off most of the stuff that I don't like, but not all. I don't care about the lyrics, or about album covers. When I'm at work, I don't want constant Internet access. I can turn that off. I don't want radio or podcast access, no last.fm, nothing like that. It just doesn't interest me. I don't load my devices with music from it either. And that's all fine, I can turn all that off or just ignore it as it's so unobtrusive. It's a nice design and set up so old Luddites like me can ignore all the fancy stuff.

But it comes down to two things I don't like. First, notifications. I don't want a notification popping up every time the song changes. I want it to work in the background and just play the music. I know when the song changes, I can hear it. I don't need to be reminded by a notification. And notifications pop up at other times, very quickly, so quickly I can't tell what they are for. So I have windows opening and closing and hopping and bouncing in front of me and I don't like it. In the Preferences, there are options for Notifications. You can choose Default, Growl or LibNotify. Sadly, there is not the obvious option of None. I wish there was so I could turn them all off.

Secondly, Tooltips. There was a time when allmusic.com introduced a form of Tooltips on their website. If you held the mouse over an album, it would expand with the album cover. It had the effect of when you moved the mouse to click on an album so you could see the track listings, the listing would display the album cover and move things around to fit it, so you would click on the wrong thing. Things just moved around underneath you and you got unexpected results. allmusic.com used to be great till then. That one thing turned it into Suck. I switched to using Wikipedia for my music data. Well, aTunes has introduced Tooltips too. If you move the mouse over the listings, new little windows open up showing artist and album and an image if it can find it. These things pop up and go away all over the place, and they have freaky window menubars that say win0, win1, ... win16. Total suck. And again, I know it's my fault for using FVWM and not some fancy modern desktop, but again, it's my choice. I tried using the new aTunes for a while, and it plays nicely and it handles my repository well, but navigation rapidly became irritating. And as it's my choice, I deleted aTunes 2.1.0 and went back to aTunes 1.13.6. That does not have notifications and it does not have tooltips and it handles my repository just fine and it plays my music well. I'm very happy with it.

I also checked my old favourite XMMS. It works really well still. I use it almost as much as I use aTunes. It still does one thing - play music - and it does it well.

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