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If this should be marked Community Wiki, please let me know.

I'm switching from XP to Ubuntu, and I have been very disappointed with the selection of media players available. I'm primarily interested in an audio player, but integrated video and library management is OK, too. My criteria:

  • Must be able to play audio CDs (I'm shocked how many apps this does away with, right away)
  • Must be able to play MP3 & WAV; OGG, SHN, FLAC are all bonuses
  • Repeat and Shuffle modes are a must
  • FreeDB / GraceNote through a proxy is a must (if it can read a PAC file, that would be awesome)
  • It needs to be really small, e.g. skinnable or an applet
  • Ability to execute a playlist is a plus
  • Gapless MP3 playback a plus

I'm running Gnome, but I'm not totally adverse to a KDE app. Command-line only is also a viable option.

Some that I've tried:

  • RhythmBox - probably the best of the lot that I've tried; I don't like its mini mode (doesn't show the song being played) and I can't figure out how to get it to hit FreeDB/GraceNote through a proxy
  • Songbird - can't play CDs, playlist management is atrocious
  • Banshee
  • Jajuk

Maybe a couple of more.



I tried out VLC, Amarok and Songbord (again). VLC I eventually got to work (I had some kind of bad configuration). It seemed way more involved than I was looking for out of a music player, and in general more geared to video than audio. I couldn't fathom its library management, which I think it has; maybe it doesn't, and that's why I couldn't figure it out.

Amaork looked very promising but the library management was not to my liking, and the way it handled a playlist with both MP3 and WAV is inexplicable at best. I did like some aspects of the UI, but not enough to keep it.

Songbird is very finicky, but I like the library management. Sort of. It kept telling me my Watch folder was invalid, even thought it clearly was accessible. Playlist management is bizarre, and the message that it was deleting source files whenever I deleted a playlist had me too worried to keep using it. Had it been able to play CDs, maybe I would have persevered.

Audacious, while a bit odd at times, does seem to do what I want. If it had a library manager, I wouldn't have bothered trying any of the others.

Thanks for the help, everyone!

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I would have recommended Amarok, can you tell me why you have discounted it? – jwaddell Jan 11 '10 at 5:23
Exaile is very good, did you try that? – user155695 Jan 11 '10 at 8:58
I believe I misspoke -- I did not yet try Amarok. – Joe Casadonte Jan 11 '10 at 16:24
I became annoyed enough at Audacious that I've continued my search, Trying the latest version of Exaile (among others). It's now my player of choice -- thanks James & grawity – Joe Casadonte Mar 10 '10 at 16:31
up vote 4 down vote accepted

I use an "heir" of XMMS: Audacious

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Not as robust as I'd hoped for, and it has some really annoying quirks to it, but it seems to be the best out there so far. Thanks! – Joe Casadonte Jan 13 '10 at 21:53
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A few thoughts. If you (mostly) like RhythmBox, you might want to know there is a command-line tool (RhythmBox-client) you can use to access that info using another tool that could give you the info you want. A popular system monitor program is conky. I use it to display my music state like so:

conky music monitor

You produce it with:

${if_running rhythmbox}
${alignr} ${color lightgrey}${exec rhythmbox-client --no-start --print-playing-format %aa}
${alignc} ${color lightgrey}${exec rhythmbox-client --no-start --print-playing-format "%te of %td"}
${execbar rhythmbox-percent}
${alignr} ${color f1aa0e}${scroll 50 ${color lightgrey}${exec rhythmbox-client --no-start --print-playing-format "%tt  -  %at"}  }

I tend to use rhythmbox because I'm lazy and I use hardly any features that most music players have. I had to get the status to conky the hard way, but conky knows how to talk to BMPx, moc, mpd, and xmms2. Every single one of these is very lightweight - so lightweight that concepts like skinnable cease to even apply - moc is a terminal app & mpd is a daemon only.

I really liked Amarok before they went to their 2.0 design. I might go back, but I don't know. Exaile is a GTK+ based player inspired by Amarok that has kept to the 1.4 UI. My favorite feature is the wikipedia integration. I was one of may favorite things about Amarok, probably the main thing I miss. It's considered lightweight, but I wouldn't call it that lightweight.

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I have always been a big Fan Xmms, pretty compact and not resource hungry. Essentially behaves/looks like an earlier version of Winamp.

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I'm also on the same mission, and also tried those in your list.

Rhythmbox is my current choice since it has okay support, but I'm looking for more.

One I recently found is Ncmpcpp, a UI for Music Player Daemon. I still have to try it though.

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Foobar2000 has a large following.

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Interesting idea, but you have to run it under wine on linux. Not the lightest weight approach for a music player... – DaveParillo Jan 12 '10 at 4:36

In three letters: VLC.

VLC is a free and open source cross-platform multimedia player and framework that plays most multimedia files as well as DVD, Audio CD, VCD, and various streaming protocols.

  • Simple, fast and powerful media player.

  • Plays everything: Files, Discs, Webcams, Devices and Streams.

  • Plays most codecs with no codec packs needed: MPEG-2, DivX, H.264, MKV, WebM, WMV, MP3...

  • Runs on all platforms: Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, Unix...

  • Completely Free, 0 spyware, 0 ads and no user tracking.

  • Can do media conversion and streaming.

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I'm going to keep plugging away at VLC, because it seems to be exactly what I want. But I can hardly get the thing to work at all....thanks for the tip, though. I'm not sure why I discounted it initially. – Joe Casadonte Jan 13 '10 at 21:52
What seems to be the problem? For me, it works without a flaw. If you share your problem, maybe we can help you further. – Yuval Jan 14 '10 at 8:16
I spent a few hours this afternoon trying to get VLC to play. I think the problem was a bad skin; I deleted all my preferences and restarted and it worked finally. I found the library management to be a bit lacking for my tastes, and I couldn't figure out for the life of me how to get FreeDB to work. I just gave up :( – Joe Casadonte Jan 24 '10 at 1:35

My choice is Rhythbox, primarily because it actually has some IR remote (lirc) support while Amarok (still) does not.

Sure, you can do some things with DBUS, but nowhere near enough—I’ve got all the useful Rhythmbox functions controllable with my remote—including shuffle and repeat toggles.

My second choice is probably Banshee—I just prefer the UI to Amarok (either version)—though I have to say I prefer the Rhythmbox UI to both. Just the fact that I can filter the library with three separate boxes (genre, artist, album) alone counts for a lot in my opinion.

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