posted by Christian Schaller on Wed 8th Dec 2004 08:13 UTC
IconMarket share numbers in free software is a rather dubious thing and tend to reflect more often the wishes of the quoter than any true objective measurement. I still dare to claim thought that XMMS has historically been the most used GUI media player on Linux and FreeBSD systems and maybe still is. Still there have been a lot of alternatives popping up all hoping to dethrone XMMS over the years and maybe the time has now come when either there will be no clear leader or someone else will ascend. One of the alternatives I really like is amaroK.

Click for a larger view I came in contact with amaroK and its developers through my participation in the GStreamer multimedia framework project and my work for Linux multimedia specialists Fluendo; Due to this tend to try out as much of the GStreamer using software being developed as possible, both to provide the developers with feedback, but also to see if they fit my needs better than my current choices.

amaroK tries to both offer some of the features that people love in XMMS and at the same introduce new concepts as those coming from the iTunes style players. So in order to let more people learn of this wonderful application and its developers I decided to conduct this interview with the core amaroK developers.

Christian: Please give a short introduction of yourself and why you started or joined the amaroK project?

Mark: Hi, I'm Mark, 29, from Germany. I've studied Computer Science and have always been interested in multimedia programming, starting with demo-scene coding as a teenager. I founded the amaroK project in 2002. Back then I was a user of XMMS, which I considered the only "serious" audio player for Linux, regarding its flexibility and large feature set. Still, the user interface was a constant source of anger for me. Why did I have to press "+" for adding files, and "-" for removing them again? Could that not be made simpler? I came up with the idea of a midnight commander like interface: You get two view panes, on the left side your files, and on the right side your playlist, and all you have to do is simply drag and drop files. So I started to implement a player around this idea, and the project gradually picked up momentum, with new developers joining.

Max: I'm a recent graduate looking for an opportunity to work in the software industry. I've been programming for years, but didn't discover Linux until 2 years ago, and after that it didn't take me long to get into open source software development.

Leinir: I'm Dan Leinir Turthra Jensen, known by most as Leinir because, well, there's just so many Dans around. I randomly help out with tidbits around KDE, though nothing extensive or high profile. I'm the author of the Reinhardt widget style and icon sets, and I mainly talk a lot, trying my best to keep people to the user interface guidelines and the new HIG.

Christian: There are a large number of music players available already; JuK, XMMS, Rhythmbox and Zinf to name a few. What made you decide to start a new project instead of joining one of the existing projects?

Mark: Reasons are twofold, really. In the first place I did not see much chance to implement my ideas in an existing application, as they would have required radical changes to the GUI. Also, I preferred a KDE toolkit interface and wanted to use C++, which ruled out projects like XMMS or zinf. Well and the second reason is, I needed a challenge, I had not programmed for quite some time and was beginning to fear I had lost it! Shortly after starting amaroK my girlfriend had left me, I was feeling very depressed, and to cope with my state of mind I started coding like a maniac, spending every free minute on the source code. I became quite obsessed, and realized how good creative work feels. Then after some time Max, Muesli and Leinir joined the project, and the fun really started, since we were now a team. I've always loved teamwork, and even more so with the great people we have in our project.

Max: I'd been using XMMS since I had switched to Linux and had never been a huge fan. I downloaded amaroK 0.6.0 one day after seeing it announced and immediately recognized a media player that had potential. At this time JuK wasn't nearly as mature. I'd been looking for a way into a more official KDE project and it seemed the next step was clear.

Leinir: Well, I joined the amaroK after it had it's first public release. It was a very powerful player with some really good features, but the usability of it didn't just lack, it was simply horrible. I've been spending the last year trying to help out with finding features that would make sense from the user's end of it, as well as sort out the problems with the user interface. The First Start wizard is my fault for example.

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