GMusicBrowser (1.1.5-git)

  • Programming Language: Perl
  • Engine: GStreamer / MPlayer / CLI tools
  • Age: 5 years
  • Pros: Truly customizable interface
  • Cons: Custom (unstable?) tagging library

GMusicBrowser has the distinction of being the only Perl-based program in the list; in fact, with some notable exceptions, it’s one of few popular Perl-based programs I see at all in the popular Linux software ecosystem, the language having been supplanted by Ruby and Python and C#.

Perhaps that’s why, despite its power, GMusicBrowser tends to languish in obscurity: it managed to elude my notice in both previous audio shootouts, despite being around since 2005. This is a shame, since I think it would have been a serious contender as it is now.

Conventional wisdom has it that programs written in C[++] are fast, followed by bytecode-compiled languages (Java, C#), with scripted languages (Python, Perl) bringing up the rear. Though there are a number of problems with that “wisdom”, suffice it to say that there’s been no apparent correlation between language and speed observed so far. GMusicBrowser is no different; in fact, it seems downright speedy. And, as seems appropriate for such a hacker’s language, GMusicBrowser is chock full of options.

Like only one other player in this comparison (Deadbeef), GMusicBrowser has the ability to group playlist entries. It comes with some out-of-box defaults which are subpar—it doesn’t appear to have a simple Artist – Year – Album heading like Deadbeef or foobar2000—but is theoretically extendable with its own playlist markup language, which I did not attempt to do for this comparison. You can see a variety of layouts on GMusicBrowser’s site, including some user-contributed layouts to download. You can see just how powerful the layout editor is in GMusicBrowser; I just wish that customizing weren’t quite such a convoluted process.

As I mentioned, its options are manifold: its library setup is standard, but still better than Banshee’s or Rhythmbox’s (despite the lack of a change-watching feature) in that you can set an arbitrary list of sources. Though it can use GStreamer as its playback engine, as with most GTK+ players, GMusicBrowser also gives you the ability to use MPlayer as its backend, as well as various and sundry command-line players if you have them installed. It’s a nice feature for those who don’t care to have GStreamer installed.

One poor design decision on the developer’s part is to make icon themes particular to his application, rather than simply inheriting the current system theme. By default, the new and popular “Elementary” icon theme is used, and none of the other appeared to work, but that may very well be a function of the code’s developmental status or poor packaging from my source.

And, of course, where would a decent player be without plugins? GMusicBrowser has a small selection of them, some more useful than others, but they cover the typical range, from music social services like last.fm to contextual artist/album information to even a ripping feature.

Tagging is something of a sore subject in GMusicBrowser. The developer’s page warns that the program use his own custom tagging library, and that users should “use at your own risk”. It’s a full-featured tagging library, even to the extent that GMusicBrowser offers mass-tagging (intelligently editing tags across multiple files), but the warning about potential instability or file-destroying bugs leaves a sour taste in my mouth.

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§5650 · August 29, 2010 · Tags: , , , , ·

7 Comments to “GNOME Audio Player Shootout v3.0”

  1. Fips says:

    Feel free to delete this rather unconnected comment, but the one plugin which very much keeps me by foobar2000 is the CUE Playlist Filter. Took me ages to discover, but it keeps a tab on all those folders containing files referenced by .cue files and prevents them being loaded into playlists twice.

  2. anonymous says:

    As a peer music-lover I would suggest you actually give yourself more time to use Guayadeque (now on version 0.8 and about to produce mp3 player support). I can easily agree on icons and that but in my view Guayadeque is in fact the best music player/organizer for Linux. I really think this is not an overstatement. For the last few years I’ve been looking for and trying all the others and have never been satisfied (and very often deeply dissatisfied) with any of them. Once you find YOUR layout (and believe me it is there for you to find) and have your files properly tagged; once you’ve created your dynamic playlists and filters you’ll be hooked into how fast/responsive/flexible/powerful this software is. I won’ t give all the long list of features you have not mentioned (other than support for composer tag) and I’m really assuming that you just don’t gave yourself enough time to discover this program. I’ve never actually used myself either itunes or foobar200 but in the ubuntu thread where most of the support is happening there are plenty of former foobar users which are thrilled to finally have found a worthy substitution.
    Best regards

    • Ben says:

      I believe you that Guayadeque is powerful, and I’m happy that it’s continuing to receive developer love (do you mean v0.2.8?). I will disagree with your implication that my files are somehow improperly tagged, though. I should not have to cater my tagging scheme to a particular program; rather, the program should be intelligent enough to handle my tagging scheme, provided it’s not too esoteric.

      I’ll definitely be checking up on the program periodically—I think it’s one of the most promising players out there.

      • anonymous says:

        I didn’t mean that you don’t have your files properly tagged (how could I know!). I apologize if I seemed to suggest that. I was just stating the obvious: to use effectively this programs (or any other similar) the music files have to be properly tagged.

        But I was also pointing to a really good feature here (not so obvious): Guayadeque supports labels. Labels can be apply at three different levels: artist, album and track and you can apply as many labels as you want (a label can be any thing you want). The implications for sorting/organizing your library, creating filters/playlists etc. are obvious.

        So Guayadeque has a tabbed view (which I find excellent): library, browser, file manager, playlists, lyrics, last.fm, jamendo, magnatud, podcast, radios, but these are services it provides; if you don’t use them don’t need to have them there.

        Just out of curiosity: what player/manager do you actually use?

        My main point remain though, I had the feeling that you

      • Ben says:

        I think perhaps I misread your original tagging comment as speaking to my common complaint about the composer tag being a second class citizen, which, now that I reread it, it appears you weren’t.

        As to my current software layout, I use foobar2000 on Windows and (currently) Clementine on Linux.

      • me says:

        I have also tried many players until I found Guayadeque. Of course it’s not perfect, but in my opinion it’s the best linux player.
        And I agree that when you fist open it, it looks awful, but with a bit of simple customization it improves a lot.

        But for me the best thing is how responsive it’s developer is. I’ve seen some bug fixed and feature request implemented in a matter of hours.

        There is also a new official site http://guayadeque.org/ with forums and soon there will be a wiki and a manual.

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