Linked by Kroc Camen on Thu 4th Dec 2008 18:20 UTC
Editorial Songbird is a new open-source music player that has this week landed at 1.0. Songbird is described as a "web player"- a music player for this modern, connected era. It blends the web-rendering core of Firefox (Gecko), with the media capabilities of GStreamer- a cross-platform, open-source media playback engine.
Thread beginning with comment 339302
To read all comments associated with this story, please click here.
zio_tom78
Member since:
2008-04-10

My background: I am an old Linux user (since 1995!) which has recently switched to Mac OS X. In the last five years I have ripped a large number of CDs from my collection. I keep them in a dedicated partition on my hard drive (6500 OGG files). I carefully designed the directory layout and avoided spaces in file names in order to ease backups. Each directory contains a "cover.jpg" file with the image of the CD cover. I used to run Exaile, which was more than happy to work with this configuration.

When a few weeks ago I copied my music to my new MacBook and fired iTunes, I discovered two problems: (1) it does not play OGG files, unless you download the decoder from Internet (which I promptly did), and (2) it forces you to "import" the files, i.e. to move them into newly created directories, with file names chosen by iTunes itself. The latter urged me to seek for alternatives.

I tried to install Amarok, but was scared by the fact that it depends on a lot of KDE libraries and there is no automated install process yet. So I decided to try Songbird. The two iTunes problems do not apply with Songbird: (1) it can read my OGG files without any additional plugin, and (2) it happly reads my files where they are without the need to copy and rename them. So I decided to stay with Songbird.

However, there are a few issues: (1) the Macbook multimedia keys are ignored (this is a known bug), (2) creating playlists is not as easy and quick as it is in Amarok and Exaile, (3) there is apparently no way to see the OSD rectangle which announces the new track to be played, and (4) it apparently ignores the "cover.jpg" file I put in each directory. If I manually import it, Songbird copies the cover into the OGG files, which is something I dislike and find quite annoying!

My conclusion is that Songbird is not the optimal solution to listen my music yet, but I will be using it waiting for an easy-to-install Amarok DMG file!

Reply Score: 1

phoenix Member since:
2005-07-11

When a few weeks ago I copied my music to my new MacBook and fired iTunes, I discovered two problems: (1) it does not play OGG files, unless you download the decoder from Internet (which I promptly did), and (2) it forces you to "import" the files, i.e. to move them into newly created directories, with file names chosen by iTunes itself. The latter urged me to seek for alternatives.


This is something that I don't understand about a bunch of different "media managers". I don't want to create a new directory tree that is my collection. I already have that. And I especially don't want the different users on my home system to have their own separate directory trees with copies of the same music files in them. That's why we have a central file server at home.

I just want a media manager that will look at a directory tree, import the metadata about the files in there, and let me create a library based on those files. BUT DON'T MOVE/COPY THE FILES!! Why is that so hard for media manager developers to figure out?

I tried to install Amarok, but was scared by the fact that it depends on a lot of KDE libraries and there is no automated install process yet. So I decided to try Songbird. The two iTunes problems do not apply with Songbird: (1) it can read my OGG files without any additional plugin, and (2) it happly reads my files where they are without the need to copy and rename them. So I decided to stay with Songbird.


Amarok's a decent media player ... but it's a horrible media manager. The "collection" is nothing more than a directory browser. You can't even edit any metadata (id tags, filename, etc) from within it.

If Songbird gets ports to FreeBSD as a native app, I may look at it. I'm running out of alternatives (GTK, and especially GNOME, apps are not alternatives.) ;)

Reply Parent Score: 2

ichi Member since:
2007-03-06

Amarok's a decent media player ... but it's a horrible media manager. The "collection" is nothing more than a directory browser. You can't even edit any metadata (id tags, filename, etc) from within it.


Right click->Edit information for X tracks?

Maybe it could have been implented so you could edit that inside the very collection tree, but I don't see how that could have been done without adding clutter to the interface.
More so when, as it is right now, edit information doesn't just mean id tags but also lyrics and labels.

Reply Parent Score: 2

MamiyaOtaru Member since:
2005-11-11

and (2) it forces you to "import" the files, i.e. to move them into newly created directories, with file names chosen by iTunes itself. The latter urged me to seek for alternatives.

Ran into the same thing with an external HD loaded with mp3s attached to a Mac. But I seem to remember I was able to tell it not to move the files and just index them where they were.

Of course, it bothered me that was the default, but it makes sense with what they are doing. You deal with music with your music app, not the filemanager. Photos with your photo app, not the filemanager. And of course there's spotlight if you actually do need to find a file for some strange reason.

Apparently directory trees are too hard to understand (see the many recent filemanagers that do away with it), and seeing the average computer user flail around when I ask them where something is installed, Apple might be on to something. Let the music manager handle the music, but leave the option for us to organize it ourselves into directories and whatever. And like I said, I'm pretty sure that option is there.

Reply Parent Score: 2

darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

The option is in iTunes preferences under advanced, and is called "Copy files to iTunes Music folder when adding to library" Interestingly enough, the defaults for this option are different between Windows and Mac--Mac's default is to have this option enabled, while on Windows it's the opposite. You can also disable the automatic organizing of your music files--again, Mac's default is enabled while the opposite holds true for Windows. Perhaps they could have made these options a bit more obvious, but they are there and aren't hidden. Personally, I leave this on, but that's because I'm a very disorganized person when it comes to files, I tend to throw music randomly into whatever folder I'm downloading to and think that I'll deal with it later... everyone can guess the rest I'm sure, I never end up dealing with it. So iTunes, in my case, is a life saver for sure.
That being said, iTunes isn't exactly the best player for ogg files. You can download the QT plugin and enable it, and they play fine, but a lot of the metadata doesn't seem to work, but I could just be doing something wrong. Usually for oggs I end up using VLC, and you might want to consider that if you don't want a music manager but just want a player for your audio and video files. Plus, it plays just about everything out there with the exception, obviously, of any protected content.

Reply Parent Score: 2