One of the big things a lot of folk want in Linux that really is easier in Windows is music. I’ve used two programs extensively, and they had to do a few things. First was obviously be easy to work with to just listen to music. The second was playlist handling, how they handle them and how easy it is to make them. Organization of my library is another big issue I needed to be sure of. I use grip to rip my music most of the time, but a way to transfer in the program is nice. And the biggest thing for me, I have to be able to use my iPod easily in the program. I don’t like using GTKpod even though it does work rather well. I want to be in the same program.
Which brings me to the two programs I stated above. They both have good and bad to them.
First Up, Amarok. This program is one that relies heavily on KDE libs, and is in fact the KDE default media player. It has a great organization system for your music library. It can sort them by the usual criteria like album, artist, genre, or combinations of those. It’s easy in this program also to plug in an iPod and sync between your library and your music player. The program can also handle Nomad Jukebox type devices so I hear, but I have none to test with so you will have to enlighten me.
The one thing I wish Amarok did in the program is importing CD’s. It doesn’t do it at all and is a function I would like to see added in instead of left to Konqueror or some other program.
Which brings me to Banshee. This program has a layout that will be familiar to a lot of people, because it looks a hell of a lot like iTunes. You can import your music directly in the program, which makes use of gstreamer. Banshee is a program written in .Net so you will need Mono installed, and as it is a GTK based program all the requisite dependencies are required. The downside to Banshee however is that for now you can’t do anything like you could with the browser in iTunes. You can use your iPod in Banshee and sync between your computer and library, however I have found it difficult to get playlists over to the iPod from Banshee. Also, sometimes Banshee doesn’t exactly handle a sync operation too well.
For now, I’d say Amarok is the best of the two, but both are always being worked on. I want to see Banshee support a browser similar to iTunes and an easier way to transfer playlists from your computer to the iPod. Amarok needs a built in way to import CD’s, but that is the smallest issue I’ve found so far. With that being the only issue, sticking with grip for now isn’t a bad option.
We’ll see how both projects develop over time.