Augustina's Technological Blog

Technology, Perl, Linux, and a Woman's perspective on the FOSS community

Amarok Out with your Socks Out!

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I mostly play music at work while I’m working. I just set up music playing on my home machine this weekend.

I took some CD’s to work to see how Ubuntu would handle ripping and to see how the sound apps would handle playback. I also had uploaded a few MP3’s for the purpose of downloading them when I got to work. when I inserted the first CD, Sound juicer popped up. Go to Edit->Preferences to set the format and the location where you want the files ripped to, as well as how they will be titled when they are saved. While I prefer FLAC and OGG, I was curious about MP3 support. I didn’t see those options listed and did a little research. When I downloaded my MP3’s and tried to play them in Rhythmbox, I got an error that said I needed GStream libraries in order to playback MP3’s.

I set my Synaptic package manager to include all available packages for the broadest search, and I explicitly searched for the GStream libraries and installed them. The options were available in Sound Juicer, but I still chose OGG as my extract format. Rhythmbox is *ok* but I noticed that sometimes it showed the wrong track when I had the player minimized. Also the random playback leaves a lot to be desired – it kept replaying the same songs and not playing others. However the interface is really simple which makes it super easy to figure out.

On the other end of the spectrum is Amarok After a few days of using Rhythmbox, I just really wanted something “cooler” (I’m a total Mac user at heart despite my defection several years ago). I installed Amarok using the Add/Remove programs. When I tried to play an MP3 in Amarok I got an error that it needed to install gstream libraries (I thought this was weird since I’d just installed them, but maybe it’s using some special KDE ones?). I clicked OK when it said it was done and continued to get the same error. In the background, the package manager had launched and was updating my system with the stuff I needed. I waited until it was done before re-launching Amarok.

Amarok’s interface is pretty intense with a lot of options. Winamp users will appreciate it. It manages your collection and album art, it also provides uplink to Last.fm. You can even skin it, just like Winamp. There are so many features buried in it that I’m still discovering (since I only *just* installed it).

Installing Amarok at home was even simpler. I’d used Automatix2 to install all my codecs, and I guess it got everything, because Amarok was able to play MP3’s right after I installed it.

I ripped several CD’s in OGG format and Amarok imported them with the correct album art. Additionally, Amarok had no problem playing some MP3’s I’d downloaded from Epitonic.com. (Epitonic is an awesome resource for more obscure music MP3’s, especially indie artists.. I’ve been downloading from them for years).

Despite Amarok’s awesomeness, there was one caveat Gnome users should be aware of. After installing Amarok at home, I couldn’t run Neverwinter Nights. I kept getting this weird MCOP error because it was trying to access KDE sound drivers (I use Gnome). Amarok runs the KDE libraries even if you’ve installed it in Gnome. I had the hardest time with this problem because it happens to a lot of applications and the way to fix varies by Linux distribution and by application it is affecting. First I tried specifying the SDL_AUTODRIVER=esd in my nwn startup script. That worked but led to sound degradation. Other drivers gave me no sound (like alsa). Finally on the ubuntu forums I found a tidbit about changing the libraries referenced to use Ubuntu’s SDL libraries instead of the ones in the Bioware Linux distro. That TOTALLY worked. see my post about installing Neverwinter Nights (I updated it with this info).

You can see what I’m listening to at last.fm/user/gldvxx and also if you’re on there, feel free to add me and join the Amarok group if you use Amarok!

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Written by missaugustina

March 11, 2007 at 6:08 pm

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