- Programming Language: C
- Engine: FFmpeg
- Age: 1 year
- Pros: Slim, fast interface; few features (e.g. tag editing)
- Cons: Slow, one-man development
It’s not a name that would ever make it a distro darling, but DeaDBeeF’s focus is a credit to its hacker namesake: it’s less a iTunes clones and more a foobar2000 clone, although its capabilities are still mighty slim, it being a new project.
First of all, it’s an extremely light player which uses FFmpeg and plugins, not GStreamer, to play back files. Contributing to its light weight is the fact that is has no concept of libraries at all, placing it in the company of other track-centric players as Muine and the now-defunct Mesk. It’s playlist design, however, is nice—the best I’ve seen, in fact. DeaDBeeF has the distinction of being one of a very few GTK+ audio players that allows for grouping of tracks; if you’re new to the concept, it means that rather than having an artist column and album column that repeat for each track, an album is preceded by a header row which applies to the following rows. It’s an elegant way of saving space, though admittedly it’s worthless if your usual music-listening experience is playlist of various artists.
DeaDBeeF sports a built-in tag writer (once again using FFmpeg), though it is marked experimental and with the author’s explicit warning that it may corrupt your data(!). That being said, it’s even got a built-in options screen for tag-writing options (charset and type, etc). Given the extensive use of FFmpeg, I don’t think it’s beyond the pale to hope that it may also someday have a useful transcoding interface like its spiritual Windows cousin, foobar2000.
Most of DeaDBeeF is enhanced by plugins: in theory, it could sport an infinite number of decoders, UI extensions, and perhaps even audio engines. This is good news, since main development appears rather pokey, and DeaDBeeF is still rough around the edges in a lot of ways. Though pretty configurable as-is, it still lacks a lot of features: tag support is limited (it doesn’t know what a Composer is, for instance, or disc number). The lack of library support is a terrible blow against it, since I think it’s fair to say that most users conceptualize their music as a library nowadays, rather than a collection of file-based playlists. I don’t even think DeaDBeeF uses existing playlist formats: its “dbpl” format appears to be some sort of binary blob, rather than an
For as young a project as it is, DeaDBeeF shows a tremendous amount of potential to be the foobar2000 clone that everybody’s looking for. I can only hope that development doesn’t dwindle and leave it another Mesk or Muine.