- Programming Language: Java
- Engine: MPlayer / xine
- Age: 4 years
- Pros: Powerful player; many features
- Cons: Bulky; confusing interface; Java
You can see from the initial screenshots that aTunes, by default, has an atrocious neon blue skin. I include it in this review because as a Java program, it has an optional Swing/GTK interface, and therefore (theoretically) integrates visually into the GNOME desktop. This makes it distinct from other Java media players like JaJuke, which has only the option of atrocious skins.
When running aTunes through its paces, I ran into a severe problem early on, namely that my audio sits in /mnt/Audio and the native Java filepicker that aTunes uses to select a library folder doesn’t appreciate that my user owns that folder: I had no way of selecting it. Oh, sure, I could just make a symlink and be done with it, but it just goes to show that even though Java 6 can approximate the appearance of a GTK program, there are plenty of disparities between Java and the real thing.
For starters, desktop integration was lacking in the form of indicator applets and the like. Even once I got the Swing/GTK interface going, the program is still ugly enough to be distracting. Make no mistake: aTunes is powerful. One look at the screenshots should tell you something about its capabilities. Aside from having more than enough widgets to keep one occupied—far more than any other player I’ll be reviewing. It reminds me of Azureus’ advanced configuration, in fact: something about Java developers must make them configuration-happy. In any case, you won’t find anybody on the aTunes development team whining about GNOME’s HIG1
Like Banshee, aTunes is aware of pretty much any tags you can throw at it, but bases its browser panes on a select few. You may notice in the screenshots that my Bruckner albums show up as Unknown Artist, glaringly in red: aTunes wants to make damn sure I know that my tagging system doesn’t conform to its expected input. There’s a lot of power here, in fact, but it’s a messy kind of power. aTunes sports a cover browser, as well as a rather neat statistics section where you can see nice-looking breakdowns of your listening habits and your library information.
If you’re looking for something lightweight, aTunes is not it: even with a library of only 4 albums (although one of them was multi-disc), the total memory was about 260MB; compare that to Banshee’s 137MB with my entire song library (18’000+ tracks) loaded. Of course, 260MB of memory in 2010 is not the same as 260MB five years ago, or even two years ago; aTunes never felt pokey to me—just a little ugly and overengineered.
- GNOME’s HIG, by the way, is positively vomitous, and has its nose far enough up Apple’s ass to qualify as a prostate exam. But that’s another issue entirely.[↩]