Finding an iTunes Replacement for Linux: The Quest Begins

When I installed the proprietary ATI/AMD driver for Limited Edition‘s video card, I had no idea that my Linux install would end up severely damaged. Sparing you the details, I now need to reinstall Ubuntu 10.04 (without any proprietary drivers that “utilize your hardware more efficiently”, of course). This is an opportunity in disguise, though, since I’ve gained extra experience in configuring Ubuntu for Limited Edition for the third time (sixth, if you count test installs), so now I don’t panic too much if I break everything (my /home directory is on a separate partition, thank goodness!).

However, the one thing that I’ve found lacking in all my searching was an iTunes replacement for Linux. I really loved iTunes on Windows XP, used it all the time, and got really excited when new features arrived that made music, podcast, and audiobook management easier for me. However, iTunes 9 really, really doesn’t work in Linux, so I’ve been thrashing about for an acceptable alternative.

High on my particular list of necessities are: podcast support (including enhanced podcasts), audiobook (especially m4b) support, and library management. Cover art support, and tag management would be very welcome as well. And I’d like that all in Gnome, please.

So my alternatives that I am going to be reviewing in the coming weeks will include: aTunes, audacious, Banshee, Clementine, DeaDBeeF, exaile, Nightingale (if it comes out anytime soon), Quod Libet, and Songbird (even though they dropped support for Linux, it may be worth a shot). I do not like KDE 4, so as a last resort I may try JuK or Amarok, but don’t hold your breath.

Also, just for fun, the classic Which OS are You? quiz:

You are Debian Linux. People have difficulty getting to know you.  Once you finally open your shell they're apt to love you.

Pretty good, huh?

UPDATE: Posted reviews for aTunes, Audacious, Banshee, Clementine, DeaDBeeF, exaile, JajuK, Miro, Quod Libet, Songbird in Software Reviews. Coming review for Listen.

CONTEST RESULTS: (As of 8/9/2010) Well, there is no clear winner here. There were quite a few strong candidates, but nobody has the Linux iTunes replacement title in the bag. This is what I felt all candidates lacked:

  • Strong, simple tag editing
  • Good embedded album art support
  • Nice album art display
  • Consistency in handling of unsupported file types
  • Chaptering support
  • Good bookmark support

Here are some things that I liked in the Linux players that weren’t available in iTunes:

  • Multiple library views (especially filesystem views)
  • Cover art fetchers
  • Multiple music stores
  • Support for Vorbis files
  • Lyrics fetchers

All in all, Linux really has quite a lot going for it, but people seem to be focusing overall on either making a minimal player that does hardly anything other than playing the files you give to it, or on making a do-all player that has cool cutting-edge features but lacks some of the basics.

I have no alternative now — I have to try out Amarok 2.3, the most beloved of all Linux music players. If Amarok really, you know, rocks, I think I may have to make the move to KDE, despite my resistance to it until this point 😐 .

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4 thoughts on “Finding an iTunes Replacement for Linux: The Quest Begins

  1. Pingback: The Great KDExperiment « Becoming A Glider

  2. Pingback: Some Thoughts on Proprietary Drivers (and Zealots!) « Becoming A Glider

  3. Pingback: Some Thoughts on Proprietary Drivers (and Zealots!) « Becoming A Glider

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