Banshee free/open music player for GNU/Linux turns 1.0


I'm awfully excited to note (belatedly) that Banshee, the free/open music player for GNU/Linux, turned 1.0 a couple weeks ago while I was still on the road. When I first surveyed all the music players available for Ubuntu, Banshee looked the most promising, but it was still in a fairly unstable beta. Now that it's finished, I'm happily importing all my playlists and chortling to myself. Basically, this does everything iTunes does -- including video playback, podcasts, remembering last-played position for audiobooks, ripping and burning -- and acts more or less like iTunes. But there's no DRM, it natively drives players other than the iPod (it supports iPods too), Link

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  1. It does not do everything iTunes does: it doesn’t have playlist folders (essential if you have hundreds of playlists). It also doesn’t allow you to edit all the metadata of a track, such as composer, though at least you can use most metadata in column view and smart playlists (unlike Rhythmbox).

  2. I have to call them out on the identical graphical display of how the iPod’s space is used. The shape of the indicator, the way it’s segmented, the reflection, even the colors are the same.

    It’s such a shame when great open source projects get stuck in a “playing catch-up” pattern instead of trying to do something new. Is the Banshee project trying to make a cheap iTunes knock-off, or a serious iTunes competitor/alternative?

  3. Amarok (http://amarok.kde.org/ ) is my prefered audio player for linux. It’s great. I’m happy for vids to not be included (they may well be, I’ve not checked) – I find that Miro covers everything I need in that department.

  4. Banshee is cute but it relies on Microsoft’s markedly un-free .NET platform. Mono, the .NET knock-off that Banshee is built on, is a means for Microsoft to subvert free software with future patent litigation and copyright claims.

    Personally, I stay well away from Banshee and the other Mono applications.

  5. I’m going to go ahead and second Musicman’s recommendation of Amarok. It works *better* than iTunes. Amarok blazes its own path, instead of “playing catch-up,” as Sam laments.

  6. Third vote for Amarok – I’m not sure it works on anything but KDE, any Gnome users using it?

    Having said that I am not a big user of playlists. I have a few that split my entire music collection into things like rock, heavy, singers, jazz, electronic etc.

    I tried iTunes when it first came out and I really hate the layout, doesn’t work for me at all!

  7. I use Amarok on gnome without any troubles. I gave Banshee 1.0 a test. As far as an all-in-one media app that integrates well with Gnome, it’s doing very well. I still prefer either Songbird or Amarok, though.

  8. Just installed it.

    Went to the import media function, selected my Music folder.

    Anybody recognize this?

    “Window with title “Banshee Media Media” is not responding.”

    In short, this thing has locked up on me at least three times in the first ten minutes.

    It simply is unable to import media from subfolders for one thing. How hard is it to implement a recursive directory parser? I mean, really.

    Piece of shit. It’s off my machine immediately.

    This is typical OSS 1.0 crap that should be sent back for QA.

  9. They (as in FOSS in general) better get to work on supporting the iPhone/iTouch protocol. Indications are the iPod classic/nano “fat” will be the last generation that doesn’t run a mobile edition of OS X. I guess if there’s always the shuffle…

  10. I haven’t tried banshee in awhile, so I can’t comment on its current state, but when I did try it some months ago it was awful. I agree with above posters that Amarok is as good as it gets on Linux.

    The main problem I had with Banshee is that it could not handle a large library gracefully. I notice a lot of media players have this problem where if you add too many files to the library they choke up due to inefficient data management. Amarok uses an SQL database for the backend, so this isn’t a problem.

    Also Banshee crashed all over the place.

  11. I fourth(?) the Amarok plug, but when on Gnome, I use Exaile, which has a similar feature set: wikipedia integration, auto album art downloading, etc.

    Unlike Amarok, Exaile plans on being omniplatform sooner or later, so it might be worth watching.

  12. Amarok++

    It has all the features I wished iTunes had when I was still using Windows. It was primarily what kept me using Linux during the rocky transition period, and what makes me loathe having to switch to use Windows-only programs.

    Once I got used to a playlist-based player like Amarok, I could never go back to a library-based player like iTunes. I imagine Banshee is much the same.

    Also, Amarok works great for me in GNOME and, to BrownBat, Amarok 2.0, based on KDE 4.0, will be cross-platform (although, it will be some time before it comes out).

  13. Banshee was OK but has one fatal flaw. As far as I could tell, there was no way to get it to connect to the net through a proxy. So, no podcasts or last FM at work. I ditched it and went back to Rhythmbox which has quirks but mostly works.

  14. Banshee doesn’t yet support behaving as a DAAP server in 1.0. I have to still use firefly/mt-daapd for that.

  15. So how do I play something? After 20 minutes I managed to import everything and then I could play a file, but it’s all jumbled together. A lot of the titles are “Track #” and the folders names are missing so I have no idea what anything is. I*t won’t play the videos at all – they are listed as “Errors”. And it comes without instructions.

    This is another of those things that make me wonder “WTF did they intend this to be?”

  16. Okay, one complaint from the lunatic fringe. I have a mere 400 hours of music on my computer, so it gets awfully familiar at times. To liven things up, I listen to automatic mash-ups. Or I used to. XMMS is the only music player I’ve found that allows you to open multiple copies and have them play simultaneously randomizing through my entire collection. XMMS was dropped from the latest Ubuntu. Now, opening Amarok, Audacious, Rhythmbox and cmus works, too, but you can imagine the CPU load…
    That said, cmus is my favorite player at the moment. Ncurses interface with Vi style commands. Well featured and faster than anything: It loads a 34GB directory of mp3s and oggs in 20 seconds on my old 1000 MHz clunker. Okay, a second xterm with ‘man cmus’ does come in handy…

  17. #12: I’ve also been giving Exaile a whirl lately (since it’s basically a GTK2 clone of Amarok), and it works really well, except for the fact that it leaks memory. Really, really, badly. (I’m talking hundreds of MB over half a day.)

    As for Amarok, and partly in response to #19: Amarok comes bundled with the EEE, and runs fine on a 700Mhz processor with only 512MB of ram.

    … and further in response to #19: Exaile comes with a Python console. Why don’t you learn a little Python (it’s really easy as a first language), and hack a script to do your mashups for you ? ;)

  18. Again Amarok takes the biscuit. There isn’t another music application that comes anywhere near close to its diverse feature set. With Amarok 2 around the corner (you can check out the nightly build now) which brings cross-plaform, gadget integration, MP3Tunes integration, stability, and loads of original ideas to makes things work; there’s no reason to get Banshee now.

    I’ve tried it out and was disappointed. There’s no ability to watch folders, no cross-fading and the app often crashes. I’m gonna stick with amarok-nightly and Rhythmbox for now.

  19. “acts more or less like iTunes” Good lord. Whatever for?

    Oh, and I hate ‘playlists’. Is there a ‘nix prog that will allow me to navigate through my files, right-click on a folder and select ‘play with (x)/Enqueue in (x)’ the way Winamp does? This is *all I want* from a media player. Gimme that, and I’ll only boot windows to play games…

  20. #20: Perhaps I’m a bit attention-disabled, but while I listen to four songs at a time, my CPU/memory are also hogged by two dozen Firefox tabs, Thunderbird, OpenOffice.org, Emacs and occasionally some extinct penguin racing game, so Amarok comes across as one hog too many. And I’m old as the hills. Efficiency appeals to me.

    As for hacking, I think Python and Ecasound, the command line multitrack sound editor, would probably be 10 times more efficient than Exaile, come with built-in effects and LADSPA plug-in compatibility and not leak memory. If only I wasn’t so busy being distracted…

  21. @#10, Weightedcompanioncube,
    I think that Iphone support will catch up as soon as Apple releases the protocols for it.
    You must not forget that these open source efforts are done through reverse engineering, and that might not always be legal in certain countries (*cough* DMCA and derivatives *cough*).

    BTW, why even bother with Ipods? If people are so concerned about being able to access their media player on Linux, why not opt for a device that acts like a mobile hard drive instead? Such as countless other media players.

  22. Yep Amarok, get’s the thumbs up from me also, it will work on Gnome just requiring import of required KDE libaries, which does make it a hefty install (somewhere around 130mb if memory serves)

  23. Wow, I was looking for yet another media player. Now if they would only come out with yet another web browser.

  24. Banshee is cute, but lots of flaws.
    I’ve been using Amarok for a couple of years now, and it does everything I could possibly want! Plus, it connects to my Creative Zen mp3 player like nothing else will.
    Only problem is, every once in a while Amarok’s responsiveness will sometimes slow to a crawl and eventually crash.

  25. Just installed banshee. Will give it a try, but I dunno — upon startup I pointed it at my ~/Music dir, it appeared to list the tracks in it. Then I double-clicked a (semi-random) song in the middle of the screen. It then started zooming through the collection and the screen reorganized. OK, I’ll figure that out… then I double-clicked another random again, and it’s been locked up now for 10+ minutes. Maybe I should wait for 1.01.

    iTunes is one of the poorest-behaved programs I’ve ever used. It puts tracks in crazy places; if you rip a disc twice by accident it doubles all the tracks (“01-Track.m3” and “01-Track 1.mp3” etc). Many annoyances. I guess you gotta be an Apple True Believer. Who’d wanna copy iTunes?

    Metoo on Amarok. It’s fine as a general player, and it’s attractive and easy interface.

    But I find myself using rhythmbox more and more. It’s unattactive, but solidly functional, and it lets you edit ID3 tags (right-click) single or groups of tracks. The player controls are large and prominent, and easy (if odd) to move through a track.

    I’m starting to DJ (psytrance) and I find it a useful tool for organizing music.

    It’s very good at building playlists.

    My one complaint about all of these sorts of tools though is that they get all hung up on their idea of a “collection”. Many times I need to simply point to a directory of artist/album/ and have it deal with it. No, I have to deal instead with meta-management of the player’s “collection management”.

    I used xmms for years. It’s a GREAT! piece of software. For simple playing of music, it’s still hard to beat. Don’t know why it got dropped from distros.

  26. Whatever. Every open source/Linux music player has a life span of about 4 years before it’s abandoned, and someone starts a new clone from scratch, and it takes 3 1/2 years for it to be as stable and feature complete as the previous one, and the cycle repeats.

    The only reason I don’t just use frickin mpg123 on a command line is to have an easier to use shuffle mode. And Last.fm support.

  27. I was bitching about Linux music players so much I forgot to mention the two I actually have used recently. One is Quod Libet. Rough UI-wise, but somewhat interesting. I use Rhythmbox for day to day listening. I had some issues with some plugins crashing but they must have fixed that at some point.

    Both have a “queue”. Quod Libet also has a sister program called Ex Falso dedicated just editing files’ metadata (tags).

    http://www.sacredchao.net/quodlibet/

  28. #22 Gilber Wham, the answer to your question is yet again Amarok. I mostly use Krusader and there’s options for Amarok.

    In the default nautilus file browser though there’s just a option, which I guess you could “adjust”.

  29. I find Banshee and Rhythmbox a lot easier to use than Amarok, but Amarok definitely has the features you need.

    Still, I prefer good ol’ XMMS. It looks exactly like Winamp 2.0 and even supports the same kewl skinz.

  30. It’s probably important that people who want an open-sourced do-everything media player have one, and I whole-heartedly applaud the hard work of the Banshee team. More open licenses in the public space is always a good thing, and Banshee looks like a pretty nice piece of work.

    But not for me, thanks. I like smaller tools. I’ve done more than my fair share of banging my head against keyboards when things don’t work right, and I’m convinced: simplicity is a virtue. My alarm clock is mpg123 and a cron job.

    Maybe I’m just Amish or something.

  31. Is terribly and sadly ironic that a website that is constantly going about protecting freedoms in general chooses to promote a piece of software that supports a development platform that has the potential to make us less free when it comes to choice.

    Or didn’t Boing-Boing read and reported about Mr Ballmer’s patent threaths uttered against anything Linux?

    Amarok (and other apps) is less liable to such spurious claims (put aside that many people consider it technically superior), even though when it comes to software patents any outlandish claims may find their way in the annals of legal verity.

    An application using technology intrinsically linked to a company issuing legal threats is really asking for it.

  32. I don’t like banshee.
    Perhaps the idea behind it is good; in which case i’ll keep an eye out, but for not it is useless as a streaming radio system.

    V1.2.1 of bansh media player; I’ve noticed bugs, it searches for ‘media content’ when it’s supposed to be parsing my play list. It never finishes, pressing stop does nothing, you have to quit the program and start again.
    My playback was jerky and stopping all the time, so i went to increase the buffer size… no option, and it didnt even do it automatically. There is little feedback on what it is activly doing so i have to sit and wait, and click buttons to be sure it is listening.

    The streaming radio seems to be handled by a really basic and useless plugin.

    ———–
    Summary: I know nothing of it except to say that version 1.2.1 is rubbish for streaming radio.

  33. If I ate Alphabet Soup, I could shit better code than this. It is constantly violating the principle of least surprise: crashing randomly, starts to play other songs when you put a CD in, skips songs, pull down menus with options which are not implemented, documentated via anecdote and blog (?!?!)… This is an embodyment of everything wrong in software today.

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