gmusicbrowser versus Exaile
Xubuntu Natty (aka 11.04) ships with gmusicbrowser as the default music player instead of Exaile, so I decided to play with gmusicbrowser in my 10.04 system.
gmusicbrowser looks a little raw, especially compared to Exaile, which has a nice, polished look.
gmusicbrowser opens up with just a tiny, unmarked console:
You have to mouse over buttons to figure out what does what. Obviously, play and stop and forward aren’t a problem, but it took me a while to figure out how to see all of my music (via what gmusicbrowser calls the browser area):
And you have to input your music via the settings area, which took me a while to figure out, too.
gmusicbrowser cannot burn music (nor can Exaile), but it has a nice workaround. When you ask it to import a disc, it kicks you into SoundJuicer (or whatever your default audio extraction program is — you can select it) and lets you import the CD from there. It’s a seamless process.
Unfortunately, gmusicbrowser doesn’t seem to index music on the fly, only on startup, so once you burn a CD, you have to shut down and re-open for the music to be playable. Exaile doesn’t index on the fly, either, but has a nice little re-scan button that will re-scan your collection for you.
At this point, I should mention that I usually don’t spend that much time burning CDs. This week there was some old music that I wanted on my MP3 player, followed by my having to buy a CD of an album that isn’t available electronically. So this review is probably a bit more CD-intensive than my typical music player usage would be.
gmusicbrowser also seemed to struggle to find album art. There’s an album art plugin, but I have yet to see any show up. Exaile also has an album art option, but it’s always just worked for me.
I might not be the right audience for gmusicbrowser. It seems super flexible, designed to give users multiple layout options. But I don’t want that kind of flexibility. I just want a simple way to play the song or album I want to hear in a given moment.
I’m not sure why Xubuntu moved to gmusicbrowser. I had initially heard Exaile development had been paused, but looking at their site, they had updates as recently as February.
So I’m sticking with Exaile. It easy to use. It’s got a simple interface. And it looks so much nicer than gmusicbrowser.
In general, I tend to love the Xubuntu team’s software picks, but this time, I’m sticking with my own (or, to be fair, their previous pick).
Also, as a general note, I’ve been playing with Xubuntu Natty. Not enough for a full review, but enough to recognize that it’s a simply beautiful distribution. I’m not a big dock user (I hate to take my hands off of the keyboard), but the dock does look very nice and does a great job of staying out of the way.
I’ll post something more comprehensive down the line, but my initial impression is that Natty is a breathtakingly beautiful take on XFCE.
drg21 asked: Hey Steve, I was wondering what use use as an Itunes replacement (assuming you use Itunes. Thanks, drg21
I’m probably not the best person to ask since I just drag stuff from folders on my computer to folders on my MP3 player.
Exaile is the default Xubuntu media player and I actually like it a lot. It’s light but simple. I can’t get it to burn CDs, but that’s not too horrible.
In the past, I’ve used the underrated Goggles for music management.
Both of those are fairly basic tools, though. If you want something with the sweeping grandeur of iTunes (but stable and responsive, unlike iTunes), the big guns are Rhythmbox, Banshee, and Amarok.
I’ve used all three at one time or another and I couldn’t tell you the difference between any of them. Luckily, Linux Journal did a nice roundup a few months ago.
Play with some and see how they work for you. And let me know which one you end up sticking with.
Why I Love My Xubuntu Laptop
Last month, Jono Bacon had a cool post about what he loves about his 10.04 installation. I thought it might be fun to do the same thing for my 10.04 Xubuntu install.
I love Chromium. On my machine, it’s much, much faster than Firefox. Plus, you can kill failing tabs, rather than having to shut down the entire browser (not that that happens too often with Chromium). Plus, I love the Chromed Bird extension. It eliminates the need for a separate Twitter client (although I do have Pino installed). Chromium gives me a lot of bang for my buck.
The Xfce application finder is surprisingly robust. It can’t open files or directories, but it’s great for opening programs quickly. I feel like people were really into application launchers and now they’re kind of off of them, but for someone like me, who hates to take his hands off of the keyboard, application finder is perfect (I bound mine to Alt-space). On a semi-related note, the Quick Open plugin for gedit lets me quickly open text files I’ve worked on, without using the mouse. Quick Open ships with gedit so you just need to activate it. It opens up with Alt-Ctrl-O. Then, start typing the name of your file, if it’s not already on the list.
I’m not a big OpenOffice/LibreOffice fan. It just feels so bloated. Gnumeric seems to do everything OpenOffice’s spreadsheet does, without requiring me to also have an unnecessary word processor, presentation, drawing, and database program installed. The Unix philosophy is do one thing well and Gnumeric is a good example of that. My one complaint is that copying-and-pasting is borked due to some kind of conflict with the Clipman clipboard manager. Luckily, I don’t do too much spreadsheet work.
I know people hate Gimp. I know people think it’s overly complex. And they’re right. But after years of trying to work with it, I feel like I’m finally becoming competent (for my very, very basic purposes). It doesn’t win any style points and the usability is non-existent, but it lets me crop and size images pretty quickly and easily. I probably use it once a week (on Xubuntu but also at work on Windows 7). I’m grateful for Gimp.
I don’t listen to much music on my laptop, but Exaile is great for keeping everything organized, editing metadata, and for the odd times I do want to play music. Exaile is simple and I never have to think about it. It even picks up album art for me. I just wish I could get it to burn CDs.
There are probably some things I’m forgetting, but these are certainly the main things on my computer that make me very happy to be running Xubuntu.
Music Management on Xubuntu: Waiting to Exaile
I’m not a huge user of song management software since I don’t listen to much music on my ThinkPad. Mostly I just download music and move it to my Nokia N810.
If I want to listen to music, I can just plug the Nokia into my stereo.
Syncing the Nokia with Rhythmbox in Ubuntu was kind of a pain since the Nokia has an internal memory and an external card. It would read as two separate devices, plus it would take a few minutes to index all of the songs. Moving music in Rhythmbox pretty much always resulted in a crash, so I just started using Nautilus to handle the music moves.
Xubuntu comes with Exaile, though, which is a pretty nice, light music manager.
Like Rhythmbox, I haven’t had much luck using it to manage my Nokia, but I think a lot of that is because I’ve gotten in the habit of moving music via folders.
I wound up downloading Sound Juicer to burn CDs, although I just noticed Xubuntu comes with Brasero natively. The next time I burn a CD, I’ll see which one seems easier and remove the other one.
It would be nice if Exaile could handle the burning on its own, though. Especially since every time I put in an audio CD, Exaile kicks on.
I know that by not using Rhythmbox, I’m missing out on the Ubuntu Music Store, but I simply can’t imagine it’s any easier than just downloading music directly off of Amazon. I should probably check out the music store one day, though, so see if I’m missing anything.
Incidentally, if you want to use Amazon MP3 on a system without easy access to the Amazon MP3/Firefox download tool, there’s a small, command-line application called clamz that’s amazing. Just enter the directory where the music has been downloaded to and then unpack all of the music with clamz *.amz.
I found that utility insanely useful back when I was on Arch and there wasn’t an Arch package for the download tool.
Music management makes me feel old, though. I’ve been reading all about the new iTunes and every time I read something about it, I wonder why you would want a program making that many choices for you. Like why use music management software to move files when you can do it yourself in just about the same amount of time? Why use music management software to download music for you, when you can just as easily do it through the browser?
I admit that a lot of that is because I don’t move music back and forth very frequently, so syncing has always been unnecessary for me.
Still, for those odd times I do find myself needing to play music on my laptop, Exaile has been fine. And despite the Apple-whining up above, I have been considering getting a refurbished Nano, since my Nokia is pretty large for a music player. Exaile/iPod support seems like it’s set, so maybe that will result in my getting more usage from Exaile.
Music management doesn’t need to be overly complex just because that’s the Apple model.
Oh. And one final thing. Linux Journal did a nice music management round-up a few months ago. I read it at the time and didn’t even notice Exaile was in there. But it is, along with all of the other big Linux music management names.