aTunes (2.0.1)

  • 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.

  1. 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.[]

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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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