Quod Libet (2.2.1)
- Programming Language: Python
- Engine: GStreamer (optionally xine soon)
- Age: 6 years
- Pros: Excellent metadata handling; large plugin library
- Cons:Potentially confusing; customizable bits aren’t as flexible as needed
Quod Libet has had quite a history in my biannual audio player shootouts. It has always impressed me with its programmer’s approach to music management—i.e. if you want to search for music with regular expressions, this is the player for you. Then it languished for a long time with an inactive developer before getting a major kick in the ass and a slew of active developers. Now at 2.2.1 (and nearing a 2.3 release), Quod Libet is once again one of the most impressive audio players available to GNOME users, even if you don’t realize it.
Quod Libet is (still) the only player I’m aware of that is smart enough to use the “Composer” tag in lieu of “Artist” when the latter isn’t available. That’s because Quod Libet, in the tradition of its former lead developer, focuses on “People” and not simply “Artist”, which is why searching for terms will search a lot more than just the artist and title tags. On the one hand, this is extraordinarily powerful, and largely unmatched in other players, but it can also be a little bewildering for novice users.
From a UI perspective, QL offers several different options. There’s the standard paned browser popularized by Rhythmbox and adopted by most other GTK audio players. There’s also an album view as seen in players like Gejengel. Alternative, there’s a filesystem view, a search-only view of the sort that used to comprise Banshee’s only way of navigating music. It might not have the gloss of Banshee, but it’s both easy and powerful once you get used to the idea.
Quod Libet has a pretty extensive plugin collection, though admittedly most of them are quite old and should probably have been absorbed into the main player. Some are still great utilities, and it’s important to note that utility has been part of QL since its inception: part and parcel of QL is Mutagen, a Python-based tagging library/interface now used by a number of other Python-based players. That means that Quod Libet’s tag editing interface is better than most—not in the “it looks like iTunes” sense that Banshee goes for, but the sort of power usage that begins to rival foobar2000 in its level of utility. A good example is the ability to create tags from filenames or vice-versa, right from the tag edit screen in QL.
Some design choices are strange, such as the requirement to click the current runtime in order to get a time slider. And of course QL is more interested in playing local libraries and minimally in network streaming; there’s no integration at all with music stores or the like, which may be a big turnoff for some. There’s no getting around that Quod Libet is one of the most powerful audio player available to GNOME users, irrespective of other qualities.