back to article Native-Linux music player Amarok gets major overhaul

Linux-native music player Amarok 2.0 was released today, sporting some big changes to the open-source iTunes alternative. Amarok 2's user interface is a major overhaul of the Amarok 1.4x GUI, both aesthetically and functionally. It's also moved from the KDE 3 to KDE 4 framework to hook into the desktop environment's latest …

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  1. Rich
    Thumb Down

    I call bullshit

    "support for portable media players require improvements in the underlying KDE infrastructure"

    KDE is the UI layer, right? Portable media players need protocol support over USB (as storage devices or through their native interfaces) which has sod all to do with the UI.

  2. Pooper Scooper
    Happy

    WIN

    Amarok roks. That's all there is to it.

  3. Alastair

    Meh

    I heard that Amarok was *the* music player for Linux, so I gave it a go while fiddling about with Ubuntu. It's way too heavy, there's crap everywhere (just look at those screenshots!)- I don't care about song lyrics, and I doubt I'm alone in this... I found Rhythmbox much simpler.

    But then i went back to OS X and accepted iTunes, flawed though it may be.

  4. Sleeping Dragon

    No thanks.

    This seems like bad timing to me. KDE4 is still too immature and buggy to make for a solid platform. I'm a keen KDE fan and went over to Gnome for my Ubuntu 8.10. Whilst Amarok 2 is a welcome addition, it's going to be a long time before we see anything like 1.4 functionality on it.

    Definitely a castle built on sand.

  5. Paul
    Unhappy

    be nice if the bloody thing just played files

    I'd just like it to simply play MP3's, not head off to search my drive, my network and god knows what else before doing a bloody thing with the one file I gave it. Sitting watching pretty moving green bars is no substitute for music coming from the speakers, a lesson the Amarok developers need to learn.

    My media is already as organised as I need it, if I can manage hundreds of gigs of media in Windows without a database why the hell can't Amarok?

  6. jake Silver badge

    ::heh:: mea culpa

    TheWifeWhoMustBeObeyed has just pointed out that the new variant of Amarok requires KDE 4.x, which we have already agreed not to invest too much time in at this point in time ...

    I'll go sit in the back, fiddling with Slack 12.2 & kernel 2.6.27.8 ...

    As you were.

  7. Jamie S

    songbird

    is the way forward, surely? apparently the Firefox of music players?

    although, its not released with distros, yet

  8. Neil Barnes Silver badge
    Flame

    Am I the only person left in the world...

    Who keep his music organised by album per artist? And actually quite likes to listen to an album - a whole album, in the order the artist intended it to be listened to?

    What's all this bollocks about playlists? It's fine if you're a radio station, and utterly utterly pointless for any other activity: hell, even my *phone* can't cope with 'play everything in this directory' and cheerfully plays 01_bat out of hell followed by 01_rites of spring if I don't take extreme measures.

    Idiots.

    Er, </rant>

  9. Michael
    Alert

    xine?

    Hope the bloody thing still plays mp3's

  10. John White
    Linux

    The bloody thing *does* just play files..

    I must be making a mistake here - I run Amarok (Kubuntu-Hardy Heron) on 900Mhz SFF PC hooked into my home network, - it DOES play files from my (wired) networked "music folder " just when I ask it to (thr my NAD 302 amp - but that's another story). It also manages to update the folder list in the background. I also don't wait 6 hours for it to load. I tried Rhythmbox - by comparison it was crude - I like the contextual info from Amarok. Also tried Songbird - but Amarok just beats it hands down.

    Not tried iTunes as I have no Windows machine (except the one running in VirtualBox) - my son has/does. Unfortunately he lost all it's tunes recently when an auto update to his XP assignes his keyborad and mouse to the same interrupt and he had to re-install (told him to use network folder but he's 16 so....)

    In summary, Amarok works fine for me; nuff said

  11. Eddie Edwards
    Linux

    Without the fanbois?!

    Have you *seen* Slashdot? It makes the Macsturbators look ambivalent.

  12. Colin Guthrie
    Thumb Up

    Rokin'

    @Rich: KDE is not just a UI, it adds several systems for interacting with you hardware. The KIO system allows filesystem like access to various systems - e.g. remote mounted filesystems or media devices that use obscure protocols etc. Also the Solid system provides an abstracted system for looking at the hardware attached to your computer. These systems are needed to aid cross platform capabilities and thus your call of bullshit is pretty much bullshit in itself ;)

    To the others that don't like amarok because it's "bloated" etc. that's fine, that's your choice. Personally I like it. The tag line is "Rediscover your music". When I'm listening to music I'd do so in one of two ways - I'll either hit play and then minimise and not look again, or I'll look through my tunes and browse the web about the artist and generally *appreciate* it. Amarok works best to *appreciate* my music. It's for people who love their tunes and like to do more than just sit back and listen.

    So if you want something to give you background music while you work or whatever, then arguably amarok is overkill. But if you want to *rediscover your music* it's perfect!!!

  13. ray hartman
    Flame

    KDE ?

    KDE what's that? The new Gnome DVD players ??

  14. Antidisestablishmentarianist
    Heart

    Wow, looks stunning

    No really. Those Linux boys have got UI's all sown up. Yep. Awesome.

    Shall I stop now or do you get the picture....

  15. Poopie McStinklestein
    Unhappy

    No title, pointless.

    "Some features, such as the player window or support for databases other than MySQL, have been removed"

    Oh, fuck no. I despise MySQL - it's just junk. Amarok devs - please keep support for Postgres.

    I never run anything that requires me to use MySQL as the backend.

    The differences in the SQL language between the two are tiny - it can't be hardly any work to make it play nicely with both.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Paul

    >I'd just like it to simply play MP3's

    Whatever you do then, stay away from iTunes. A bloated pig is still a pig no matter how much lipstick you put on it.

  17. Wolf Clostermann

    hm

    @Paul: then use XMMS, you berk.

  18. Adam Williamson
    Thumb Down

    Wrong

    "KDE is the UI layer, right?"

    Wrong.

  19. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    No Good

    I guess I'll be sticking with XMMS then. Simple, no frills and just works (tm)

  20. Andy
    Stop

    The worm turns

    As ever, developers try to push more and more functionality into applications whilst forgetting that the simple to use applications are the most accepted. I'll stick to 1.4 - it does exactly what I need and works with all my portable devices, it's clean and intuitive... no need to change.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Oh no

    Just what I don't need.

    Amarok works just fine as it is - mainly because I've worked out how to turn off all that crap and just get the music. Learning how to do that all over again doesn't appeal I'm afraid.

    And I do rather value the ability to talk to certain portable devices - there being few Linux programs that do this without problems.

    If they really want to piss around with all that fancy stuff that no-one uses, at least retain a "classic mode" option so people with better things to do (like comment on El Reg, obviously) can use that.

    Amarok is getting so many features I'm sure the developers must all be emacs users.

  22. Jach
    Heart

    I love Amarok

    But I'll hold off the upgrade; maybe when it's not masked in Portage I'll consider it more. (Plus I imagine there's a bunch of dependencies I'd need to compile as well.)

    @Paul: You can easily configure where it looks for your music; on this craptop of mine I never have speed problems because I turn off the annoying GUI stuff and if I put a music file in my music dir I usually see it right away when I switch to the Amarok window to add it to the playlist.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Heh

    I use audacious, which is very nice, does what it says on the tin.

  24. Seán

    Fuck kubuntu

    It's just broken.

  25. Player_16
    Gates Halo

    @Alastair

    I too must agree with Alastair. It looks like something Autodesk or MS Office designed; shit everywhere! Mouse heavy.

    Bill: 'It looks great! ...`especially for an open-'sauce' which I actually disapprove of.'

  26. James Le Cuirot

    @ Rich

    KDE does a hell of a lot more than UI. I won't go into the details here because I'm tired and I'm not a KDE user but go read up on it.

  27. James Le Cuirot

    @ Paul

    So don't use it then? There are plenty of other players that are closer to what you want. I find Amarok overbearing too so I use Audacious.

  28. MattCasters
    Thumb Up

    Amarocks!

    Unlike the other commenters complaining I use Amarok every day to listen to the radio or play music from my collection. Amarok 1.x already is very very nice so I can't wait to see version 2 mature and grow. The fact that there is a stable release out there is nice and the fact that they are continuously improving is promising.

    As for KDE 4: I'm using version 4.1.3 every day now and calling it "buggy and immature" is really a bit of a stretch. Missing small features here and there: sure, but very usable and enjoyable to work with. KDE4 like KDE3 is of-course more than just a thin UI shell, it contains many frameworks for multi-media, database and network connectivity, etc.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    typical linux rubbish

    in order to install this singular app, you have to install the complete KDE environment.

  30. jake Silver badge

    Wonderbloodyful :-(

    Not only do I have to graft 2.6.27.8 into the newly released Slackware 12.2, I'm going to have work on the new Amarok for my wife on the same platform.

    Bloody computers ...

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    KDE4?

    Bad move. KDE4 is - at least as far as functionality's concerned - still in very early beta. I Installed it with Kubuntu 8.10 and gave it a really good try, eventually giving up in disgust. I'll try again in a year, perhaps, when it works. It's a big mistake for Amarok to tie itself to such a premature technology. Bad Amarok. Bad.

  32. Tim Bates

    Re: Meh

    Of course Amarok is bloated. It's trying to be iTunes. Can't do that without a good solid amount of bloating.

    I quite like XMMS/Winamp... Though I do use MPD at work because sometimes I need to restart X or log off, and MPD keeps the music running.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    What's it for?

    I can type "ogg123 -z *" at the command line and get every useful function this bloatware performs. I don't *want* to watch my music.

  34. Greg

    What the hell is all this shit?

    Lyrics? Album art? I know what the bloody CD looks like! Half of this crap doesn't need to be there. Hope you can turn it off. The thing about 1.4 that made me love it was how fast and simple it was - big list of tracks, type your search in at the top, done.

  35. Edward Miles
    Linux

    Hmmm...

    Having started to run it, not sure I see where it's an improvement over 1.4... the UI is uglier, the default settings are less intuitive (Although that might just be my vast experience with 1.4 coming through) and there doesn't appear to be anything new (to me who uses it as a straight up album player).

    I may roll back!

  36. Mark

    re: I call bullshit

    Nope, because KDE isn't just the UI (like Gnome) but an entire system (like Windows). Kparts and KIOSlaves are inherently part of KDE and these allow (especially KIOSlaves) access to a device (such as iPod) or other stream (such as iPlayer and iTunes music store) as if it were a disk (like file:/) or website (like http:/) See the fish protocol (fish:/ KIOSlave) which allows an SSH login to look like a normal file system to Konqueror (or anything that uses a KIOSlave).

  37. Mark

    "I'd just like it to simply play MP3's,"

    that's a problem with software patents and mathematical patents that have been abused.

    Or do you demand that KDE and amaroK break the law?

  38. Mark
    Paris Hilton

    re: typical linux rubbish

    And in order to use the singular app "Word 2007" I have to install a complete Operating System (in 4GB).

    Shite, I tell you, all shite.

  39. Stephen Usher
    Alert

    MySQL?! A bit over the top for a music library.

    I nearly coughed when I read that it used MySQL as a database. Why?!

    For a music database (which is most likely to be used by one person at any one time) such a database engine is severe overkill and a potential security nightmare (as the audience for a music player won't known how to secure MySQL properly).

    Surely, using a small, light, single user database engine would have been ample?

    As for KDE 4, it looks pretty. I've got a Mandriva 2009.0 box running it. I wouldn't call it production ready, there are too many every-day things missing. Maybe in a year or so, when the basic functionality's been written I'll go beck to it.

  40. Ferry Boat

    Is it just me?

    Or is it still just so much easier to stick a CD in the CD player and press play. Easier to use controls too. Horses for courses.

    I agree with the comment above about listening to full albums as they were intended. I'd never turn off a song half way though either. An interruption of the 'musical message' is bad.

  41. Dai Kiwi

    One step forwards, two steps back

    ... I'll check back after 'a few releases'.

  42. Mark
    Paris Hilton

    re: What's it for?

    It's for the people who wanted Windows Media Player (which lets you watch your music, but doesn't have a command line) or iTunes (ditto).

    It's for them.

    This is why "Why is it so confusing! Pick ONE application and use it, don't ask me which of twenty several versions of the same thing I want!!!" is wrong.

    Because left to one of them, you won't have ogg123. Left to you, they can't use ogg123.

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Whats it for?

    Well, when you get tired of the ogg123 bloatware holding your hand and spoon feeding you toffee coated bite sized music nibbles, you can unhitch the training wheels and join the real men cat'ing raw data straight to the audio device.

    Of course, everyone will understand if you are too nervous to move away from ogg123's eye candy and its "do it our way, or no way" command line options. If I wanted an app to get in between me and my music i would damned well write it myself in assembler, carefully hardcoding in all my preferred options, including the disk sector locations of the music files I wanted played. If I changed my mind I would start from scratch - and I MEAN scratch. I would reinstall my OS (Gentoo, without all that namby-pamby "portage" fluff) and recreate my audio files, transcribing the originals with a hex editor.

    By all accounts I must have one hell of a big willy.

  44. Matt Bryant Silver badge
    Happy

    RE: Eddie Edwards

    SHUSH!!! Throwing flamer comments at the fanbois on /. is almost as much fun as winding up the Sunshiners here!

    Anyhooooo. Will I use Amarok - no. Not because I don't think it's a good bit of work, but becasue I have other tools that do the job for me. But what really cheers me is the amount and quality of a lot of the Linux apps like Amarok popping out all over the Web. Ten years ago there were a few forums (including /.) which, if you read, you could be pretty sure of staying about 99% up to date with Linux development. Yes, Amarok is over-engineered and could be described as bloatware, but so could 90% of Windows or Mac apps. It's a sign of the growth of the Linux arena and its wider appeal that apps like Amarok get air-time on sits like The Reg, and that will REALLY wind up the Sunshiners and Mactards!

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just... why?

    There is no logic on using MySQL for a database - if you have hundreds of thousands of songs then maybe perhaps a full blown RDBMS is what you're after. The rest of us either manage via a regular file structure and *maybe* something in SQLite if you want to do any clever. Tying it to something as heavy-duty as MySQL (which a number of users won't necessarily need to install) is senseless.

    I still use XMMS on Linux and XMplay on Windows - this is just too big and overbearing, and I don't need to see the album cover, if I want to do that I can either look it up on Wikipedia (hah I tell thee!) or go downstairs to where my CD collection is and have a look.

    I only have Windows Media Player installed because MS installed it with XP, and some of the other software I have depends on it under Windows.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Oi! Belt up!

    Remember the OSS mantra, "We have choices."

    If you don't like Amarok, then fine, but provide some useful criticism to the developers or shut F up and find a different player! With comments like, "too much crap included" and "I don't want no green shite and wavy stuff", "the devs need to learn", it's no wonder we can't get decent OSS software for some areas. As soon as someone makes an effort all they get it whiny planks going on about what's rubbish and not providing anything useful!

    I find Amarok very useful. I turn off all the bells and whistles day to day, but once in a while I like the fact that I fancy seeing what the singer is screaming and yelping about. Once in a while I like to know that I have listened to the same crap song 65.5% more times than any other from that band. The thing I like most is, I have the choice!

  47. Cameron Colley
    Linux

    RE: "What's it for" et al...

    As someone who likes to listen to full albums some of the time, and a "random" mix others I find it to be ideal. Most players that would allow me to play a "random" mix of my files would then not allow me to add to the playlist as I feel. So, for me, Amarok works -- and I'm sure there are others out there it works for too.

    If I "just want to play a music file" then I'll use something else less bloated.

    Sometimes it's nice to have a choice.

    That said -- my first thoughts on seeing KDE4 and Amarok 2 are "Nooooo!" and "Nooooo!", Hopefully I will grow to know and love them as I have my present KDE/Amarok setup.

  48. Ian Johnston
    Unhappy

    @Will Godfrey

    xmms? Have you seen what happened to it? Last year - a nice, neat, small, just-works player. Now it's xmms2, a bloated, unreliable, pain-in-the-neck client server architecture which is deservedly dying on its arse.

    A classic example of what happens when development is driver by developers: bells and whistles for the sheer programming joys of it, while usability and users evaporate like the morning dew.

  49. Mark

    An interruption of the 'musical message' is bad.

    Yet radio is still used to sell music.

    Individual files shared on P2P is still "killing the music industry" (though you don't get the whole album, or liner notes, etc).

    Some people like the album.

    Some don't care.

  50. David Hagan

    One step forward....

    Sounds like they've taken out lots of features for no real benefit. Look pish too...

  51. Jonathan

    1.4 is fine...

    1.4 is fine for me, all I do is navigate through the music tree, choose an artist/album, and click play. Occasionally I move files to my MP3 player... and thats about it! Version 2 doesn't really offer me any benefits whatsoever!

    Not that I'm blaming Amarok, because as other's have pointed out KDE4 isn't nearly ready for this sort of thing!

  52. David Hicks

    I have no objection to Amarok but....

    Does it support the latest generation of iPods yet?

    Apple did some sort of crypto hash on index files on the new gen nanos, I think specifically to stop any other programs interacting with the player. Maybe it hurst their iTunes revenue model to have competition. Miserable feckers.

    Either way, a friend plugged his nano into my eee 901 just to charge it, nothing dodgy, and up pops Amarok, reads the index and then wrote it back on, without the appropriate Apple magic-hash. The iPod then got very confused and said it was still full but couldn't actually see any files.

    Shame on Apple for pulling this stunt, but also shame on Amarok for writing to the device without asking.

  53. Saul
    Stop

    @Neil Barnes

    No, you're not the only person in the world. Playlists are the devil's work. I seem to spend as much time fannying about with ID3 tags and mp3 files as I do listening to the feckin' music these days. And when I want decent quality I still have to give up on the computer altogether and go back to my Arcam CD player.

    The album view on my iPod Touch is about as close as I get to browsing my old collection. But I can still scan my shelves of CDs quicker than it can scroll the covers.

    Bloody computers. I thought they were supposed to make things better?

  54. Anonymous Coward
    Linux

    Amarok is like marmite

    You either hate it or love it :)

    No comments about Amorak since I have it installed but don't tend to use it much.

    I don't see any problems with having another GUI for playing music and also having it installed.

    We all hit issues with software from time to time so to have multiple versions of one thing is a good thing specially when testing quality of an mp3/output

    Linux users should only really thank its developers for providing us with all these cool tools for FREE so what if it doesnt look like a glossy windoze package at least its free and does not require keygens to get it working :)

  55. Dave

    Hmm

    Amarok 1.4.X was absolutely my favourite player. I loved the features and the way you could navigate through large collections with ease. Yes it had to parse your file structure but then you get all the ID3 tags into the db so you more easily find stuff.

    I've been trying Amarok 2 since the first beta and while it's not bad; it's not as good as 1.4.X. The missing things like queuing within a playlist should not be missing from the first stable release IMHO. The look is pretty crappy with too much information crowding the program window. It's almost like the music library has taken a backseat where as the playlist and library where the major features in 1.4.X. The collection navigation and searching is still not great. I am sure it will improve in time, but it's just not as good right now. Mind you it's still better than the bloat that is WinAMP 5 or iTunes!!

    Re: MySQL; not sure if anyone has pointed this out yet or not, but Amarok 2 uses MySQL embedded not the full blown server. From my understanding that is like a "better" (subjective) SQLite. You do not need a full blown mysql server installation just for Amarok 2. To be honest, I have no preference on this myself - so long as it works!

  56. Richard Neill

    Grey?

    Why do KDE4 apps looks so ugly? What's with the enormous expanses of grey? I've been a great fan of KDE since the early days of KDE2, but it seems to get buggier, less unix-y[1], and now it's really ugly too! I'll stick with the 3.5.9 as long as I can, but I think my next upgrade will be to XFCE.

    Also, anyone who releases a new version of an app without including the majority of the key features of older versions deserves to be slapped with a wet fish. I like Amarok, but a higher priority ought to be making it run long-term without crashing...

    [1]In my view, a "desktop environment" should be a collection of self-contained apps, sharing a toolkit and a design view, but not "welded" together, i.e. respecting the Unix philosophy of small simple tools. What don't get is the need to have so many KDE-specific "frameworks". Eg sound should be handled by alsa or (maybe) by pulseaudio, but not by yet another daemon.

  57. Dave

    Update to my Hmm post re: MySQL

    Amarok devs posted a great article discussing why they used MySQL. Seems that my understanding of "embedded" was a little of the mark (naive more like) and TBH I CBA to look further but here ya go:

    http://amarok.kde.org/blog/archives/812-MySQL-in-Amarok-2-The-Reality.html

  58. Gilbert Wham

    @Neil Barnes:

    Nope: me too. Is there, anywhere, a FOSS music player where I can click on a folder and a context menu comes up & says 'play in (X)/enqueue in(X)'? If not, why not?

  59. BioTube

    Overkill

    I don't see the reason for all this. I've never used Amarok, but recently moved from Kaffeine to MOC for my background noise. The only feature I miss is the ability to sort and easily search the playlist(which isn't a problem most of the time anyways).

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