I’ve been looking for a media player/manager for Linux for some time. And during that time, I’ve become increasingly frustrated. Isn’t there _one_ such application that doesn’t suck fiercly?
In this first part of a two-part blog entry, I’ll cover the requirements for a media player/manager.
I have a few very simple requirements:
* The application must be able to manage a database of considerably more than 8000 songs (roughly the size of my current library). And by
manage here, I mean:
** Must not choke on importing
** Must not choke during startup or shutdown
** Must not choke if the database changes when the application is open.
* Must *absolutely not* have a toy-like user interface. Read: It *must* feel integrated with my choice of desktop enviroment, Gnome in this case.
* Must *absolutely not* alter any of my music files, except when asked to. And when I ask it to change a file, it should actually change the file, and not just its own database. If I (or rather the person who submitted it to FreeDB/CDDB) mistagged something, I actually want it corrected everywhere. Not just in the media player I happen to be using when discovering it.
* It must absolutely have a proper search.
* Quick filters are not search, but it should have them too.
* It should be able to play just about anything I throw at it: Ogg Vorbis, MP3, FLAC, WMA.
** Except DRMed content. I “don’t have any DRM-infested media”:http://virtuelvis.com/archives/2006/05/why_no_drm on any of my computers, and I don’t plan on adding any.
* Must support Audioscrobbler. Either natively, or as a plugin.
* It must have meaningful playlist managment.
** Multiple playlists.
** Automatically generated playlists based on search criteria is a bonus.
** Dynamic playlists based on my “last.fm profile”:http://www.last.fm/user/arvebersvendsen/ is a huge bonus. I’d love for this one to be combined with the previous feature.
* Must be keyboard navigable.
* Must *absolutely not* have a toy-like user interface. Read: It *must* feel integrated with my choice of desktop enviroment.
* Should support my Rockbox-enhanced iPod as a regular mass storage device. No. Make that a _must._ I don’t ever use my iPod with the original firmware, because — well — Rockbox *rocks* and *Apple’s own firmware sucks.* Fiercly.
** Playlist syncing with removable mass-storage devices is good.
* Should support all common tagging formats for MP3 (ID3v2, ID3v1, APE)
* Meaningful mass-tagging features, on-par with “EasyTAG”:http://easytag.sourceforge.net/ is a huge plus, but if it doesn’t have them, tagging support for manually tagging multiple files is required.
* Need not have support for ripping CDs, but if such a feature is there, it should work every bit as well as for instance “Grip”:http://nostatic.org/grip/ — Paranoia support and external encoder support is a must. Further, if there is a ripper without such features, I should be able to remove it from the UI.
* Lyrics support is a nice bonus. Same with cover art and Wikipedia integration. But none of these features are on the list of musts or shoulds.
* If there is podcasting support, it should be meaningful:
** It needs to actually _work_ — a number of the players I have tried fails to download the podcasts automatically. Other players I have tried fails to even download the podcasts. One player (that I will identify in Part II) deleted the podcast subscription itself when I tried to delete old episodes.
** Automatic deletion and expiry policies is a huge plus.
** Podcasts are timeshifted radio. A media player should be able to automatically sync podcasts to removable mass storage devices (such as the aforementioned Rockbox-iPod.
* Regarding radio: Yes, support for streaming media is on the must-list. Integration with “Streamripper”:http://streamripper.sourceforge.net/ would be an added bonus, but it’s not a must as I already use cron to timeshift the shows that are on when I’m sleeping.
If you have a suggestion for a media player, make it here, and I’ll try to include it in the planned follow up, where I comment on a number of media players.
*Update:* I’ve posted “part II, with reviews”:http://virtuelvis.com/archives/2006/11/media-managers-part-two.