Sunday, November 9, 2008

Review of two best audio player of Linux System

I always try to keep audio and video player separate from each other. Most people don't care until their system gets jammed about memory stuff. But some are too concerned and try to execute whatever takes less memory on their system and still get their job done. I will list two applications (one is not quite single application, it's a collection).

a. Amarok: (Version Memory: 21.6MiB)
b. Esperanza: (Version 0.4.0, Memory: 3.1MiB)

(These statistics are of Ubuntu 8.10 intrepid ibex

a. Amarok: One my friends introduced me to Amarok when I started to use Fedora 3. And from then whatever version or system I have jumped Amarok has become my choice of applications I install at first. There are many things that make Amarok the best music player ever, although it is a kde application and I prefer Gnome for Kde. Every player may play lastfm, list the cover image, play rss beautifully, make smart playlist, listen to huge collection of radio have the greatest search features, support many plugins, connect media devices easily, read lyrics of songs from different sources(preinstalled scripts for Astraweb, Lyrc), find full articles of artists on wikipedia, make beautiful collection, make dynamic collection, buy songs from Internet, collect statistics of your play and habit, make queues (Tools), collect favorite songs, bookmark directories, great drag n drop etc and last but not the least plays song beautifully, but Amarok does all of these with great easiness. It does not even go and scan what ever you may not like to be scanned.

As all of we Linux users know that some applications don't perform best for our particular version of Linux, or hardware or our configuration. I have had many instances when how hard I try I cannot get some applications running without me reinstalling the distro. But with new ways of installing applications and great forums, tutorial, good package managers (synaptic, rpm based etc) these things which might or might not work some days ago works perfectly with a simple search and click on these package managers. I have watched how Amarok at times have incorporated with all the audio backend that bets it's the best e.g oss, alsa, pulseaudio(new). With all these backend Amarok has grown stronger than ever before. For some of you who don't know what it is, it is next Firefox for music players. Another thing that might bother users might to not know how to use some features. E.g

To connect your favorite music player which lists as flash drive
Step 1: Open a terminal and type
sudo fdisk -l
Step 2: After it connect your music player and then re-run the above command. You will find the new added drive.

Note: New terminology is mount point (mount point is a point in the directory hierarchy in unix (starting from /) where another similar hierarchical device may be added. E.g if you add cdrom to somewhere in the hierarchy you can browse the cdrom as normal directory etc.

Step 3: Type in the previously opened terminal
sudo df -h

Step 4: Find out where your device (e.g /dev/sdb1 is attached).

Alternatively you can find the mount point by just clicking the icon of your media player and pressing up arrow in nautilus (window manager). This will browse you to /media directory which will say you are connected to e.g /media/disk (for this new media).

Step 5: Now at Amarok at Devices(Left panel) press the wrench icon(configure) and put your mount point e.g mount /media/disk. If this does not work you can say /dev/sdc1 (as shown previously when we did a sudo fdisk -l). If you are on a fedora based system you may not permission to mount from normal user. So while you want to transfer media you may want to run Amarok from root permission.

At terminal type (For fedora based users)
su -

Step 6: Now press the connect button just to the left side where configure button was situated. If you want to copy your latest favorite playlist to the media device just select all and drag by mouse the whole active content from current list to the browsed media device.

Another Tip:
I cannot list every feature of Amarok in such a small article. Just install using your favorite package manager or

from terminal by typing (Ubuntu)

sudo apt-get install amraok

(Don't forget to get also the xine library as dependency)

Once you get used to it, listen great rss etc you will surely explore more. One thing I find users complaining is the fonts seem very lean and thin. For that you can just go to Settings → Configure Amarok → Appearance. And use custom fonts (Bitstream Versa Sans 9, Bitstream Versa Sans 10, AquaBase 10 respectively from top to bottom) (Now don't ask how to install these fonts on Ubuntu or fedora), and Custom color scheme. Foreground “#3167D2”, Background “#FFFFFF” and Color for new playlist items “#6196FF” was best for me in Ubuntu interepid ibex with MurrineDust Blue theme, and Gnome-Brave icon from “GNOME_Colors_by_perfectska04” collection.

b. Esperanza: From the instant I started using Mandrake every Linux article I read did not miss how to install Xmms. So why are new users not listening about Xmms very much. Actually xmms looked an old generation audio player. It did however support many features one music player must have. When I started using ubuntu (starting seriously from 8.04, previous did not quite make me any impression), I found ubuntu does not include xmms. However they include Xmms2. Finding similar name I wanted to gave it a try, thinking it was similar to Xmms. I was totally disappointed when it was console based and it did not act how we all except certain applications to act. So the very next hour I totally removed anything that named Xmms2 from synaptic. After upgrading to 8.10 I thought of giving it a second try (I always loved what Xmms was). Now I found that I should think it not as a music player what I have always used but the approach was quite different. It is server client based music player. What does this mean? It means xmms2 process runs in the background as a server, it contains all the songs you have initially fed to it. Now you are free to choose what ever client you want. It can be web based, one from lan, or some desktop clients. It promises to be the best music player (as what xmms was to Linux some years back). Esperanza is just another client to play what is listed on Xmms2 server. Once the server is initiated to play from esperanza it does not matter whether you close it or leave it on the notification bar. One fact I must reveal of esperanza is it is not easy for anyone to use but provides some promising features. I did not find any client that is quite up to the mark. This client even does not support most important features like multi-playlist, repeat feature but contains global shortcuts that does great job and supports on-line radio and as we all have seen it uses very less memory. This client seems to be ahead as a client of Xmms2.

Downside: All the Xmms2 clients are poor in feature actually all of them are very pre-release as Xmms2 is not complete with all of it's features. Clients are even poorly made. Many features on Esperanza also seems to be hidden(e.g configuring Internet radio, login feature to lastfm etc). You don't actually feel they all exists in this player. I really want to use all the features of Xmms2 and a great music player client. Till now I did not find even other two clients listed in synaptic quite promising or even easy to use. You may find a good client for me.

Tip: To install xmms2 we may type in terminal
sudo apt-get install xmms2 xmms2-plugin-airplay xmms2-plugin-alsa xmms2-plugin-ao xmms2-plugin-asf xmms2-plugin-asx xmms2-plugin-avcodec xmms2-plugin-cdda xmms2-plugin-cue xmms2-plugin-curl xmms2-plugin-daap xmms2-plugin-faad xmms2-plugin-flac xmms2-plugin-gme xmms2-plugin-gvfs xmms2-plugin-ices xmms2-plugin-icymetaint xmms2-plugin-id3v2 xmms2-plugin-jack xmms2-plugin-karaoke xmms2-plugin-lastfm xmms2-plugin-m3u xmms2-plugin-mad xmms2-plugin-mms xmms2-plugin-modplug xmms2-plugin-mp4 xmms2-plugin-musepack xmms2-plugin-normalize xmms2-plugin-ofa xmms2-plugin-oss xmms2-plugin-pls xmms2-plugin-pulse xmms2-plugin-rss xmms2-plugin-sid xmms2-plugin-smb xmms2-plugin-speex xmms2-plugin-vocoder xmms2-plugin-vorbis xmms2-plugin-wma xmms2-plugin-xml xmms2-plugin-xspf esperanza