Amarok to aTunes
#6 Henry, Tuesday, 10 November 2009 12:23 AM (Category: Linux)
(Tags: amarok atunes)

Ever since I installed Slackware 13.0, I've been using Amarok 2.1. This has been a struggle.

I've been used to Amarok 1.4 and it's been fun to use. It let me find my music, find patterns in the music, and it just let me enjoy it. My needs are not great. I want a music player to play the music I have on disc, and show me ways of combining it. I don't want to listen to Internet radio, I don't want to do podcasts, I don't want to connect to my iPods (that's what I use the Mac for, and that silly iTunes), I don't want to play cdroms. Amarok 1.4 did a lot of this extra stuff that I am not interested in, but it also let me play my music in ways I liked. The most impressive feature was the duo of Smart Playlists and Dynamic Playlists.

I used those two features to create fun ways of listening to music. I could set up a Smart Playlist of "Rock and Jazz with a date greater than or equal to 2000". Or just Folk Music. Then I would create a Dynamic Playlist to point to one of the Smart Playlists and it would play random tracks from that list. If I added more cds to the collection, they were automatically included because they met the criteria of the Smart Playlist. The Amarok home page describes how to set up the Smart and Dynamic playlists.

Then they released Amarok 2.1. And wasn't that pretty. It looks really nice. But it's slower. It loads my collection much slower than version 1.4. It does really weird things very slowly when the collection changes and it has to refresh its memory map. Sometimes, when all it's doing is playing a track, it decides to do "something", I don't know what, and it jams all my CPUs up to 100%, and thrashes the hard disk. When it does this, all I can do is walk away and get a cup of tea and wait for it to finish whatever it was doing and relinquish control. It's expanded all the things I don't care about. More Internet radio and great support for, and more support for podcasting and cds and stuff. Great. I can ignore it.

But they dropped the things I used the most - Smart and Dynamic Playlists. There is something called a Dynamic Playlist and it does something but I don't know what. I do know that it does not do what I want. And, oh look, they've removed the Help that was built into Amarok.

So it's slower and it doesn't do what it used to do that I liked? Okay. I have no loyalty. I'll go looking for alternatives. At the very least I can always fall back to XMMS (which Patrick has decided to include in Slackware again). That's fast and lightweight, but the Smart and Dynamic Playlists are done in your head.

I went looking for alternatives and found this website. I am working my way through these applications and seeing if any of them will suit me.

Right now, I am using aTunes. This is a Java application. And it runs considerably faster than Amarok. I would never have believed that a Java app would run faster than a native Linux app, but there you are. It does. It's as ugly as most Java programs, but I'm rapidly getting used to it. It almost does what I want with Smart Playlists, but not quite. It's better, for my needs, than Amarok so I am going to keep using it while I experiment with other Linux music players.

And just in case the Amarok programmers ran out of time to include Smart and Dynamic Playlists, and hadn't quite optimised it, and hadn't written the Help, and now that it's been released they will have time to add these extra features back in, I will continue to monitor Amarok's progress and hope they get it together again.