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Linux Media Players Suck – Part 1: Rhythmbox

The state of media players on Linux is a sad one indeed. If you’re a platform enthusiast, you may want to cover your ears and scream “la-la-la-la” while reading this article, because it will likely offend your sensibilities. In fact, the very idea behind this series is to shake up the freetards’ world view, and to make them realize that a decent Winamp or iTunes clone need not be the end of the story for media management and playback on Linux.

This article will concentrate on lambasting Rhythmbox, the default jukebox software of the GNOME desktop environment. Subsequent posts will give the same treatment to other players in this sphere, including Banshee, Amarok, and Songbird (if I can find a copy that will still build on Linux). If you’re a user of media players on Linux, keep your own annoyances firmly in mind, and if I don’t mention them, please share in the comments. If you’re a developer for one of these fine projects, try to keep an open mind and get inspired to do better. A media player is not a hard thing to build, and I do believe that together, we can do better.

For the remainder of this article, please keep in mind that I am currently running Rhythmbox under Kubuntu 9.10, so you’ll see it rendered with qt widgets in all of my screen shots. This doesn’t affect the overall performance of the app, but leads nicely into my first complaint:

  1. Poor Cross-Platform Support: There are basically two desktop environments that matter in the Linux world, GNOME and KDE. Under GNOME, Rhythmbox has a reasonably nice icon set that is comparable to other media players. Under KDE, the qt re-skinning replaces those icons with a horrible set of mismatched images that really make the program look second-rate:
    Isn't this shit awful?

    As you can see, these icons look terrible. Note that there isn't even an icon for 'Burn' and the icon for 'Browse' is a fucking question mark.

    This extends to the CD burning and help features too. They rely on programs like gnome-help and brasero to work, but don’t install them with the media player, so when I try to access these features under KDE, I just get error messages. Nice.

    Honestly, who packaged this thing?

    This is just plain stupid. Every package manager has the concept of dependencies, so why doesn't Rhythmbox use them?

  2. The Player Starts in the Tray: Under what circumstances would it be considered useful for a media player to automatically minimize itself to the system tray on startup? It doesn’t begin to play automatically. The first thing that I always do is click on the tray icon to maximize it so that I can select some music to start playing. Way to start the user experience off on the wrong foot.
  3. Missing Files View: This one is just plain stupid. Whenever I delete a file from my hard drive, it shows up under the ‘Missing Files’ view, even though my intent was clearly to remove the file from my library. Further, I use Rhythmbox to put music on my BlackBerry. Whenever I fill it with music, I first delete the files on it. Those files that I deleted from my mobile device? Yeah, they show up under ‘Missing Files’ too, as if they were a legitimate part of my library! So this view ends up being like a global garbage bin that I have to waste my precious time emptying on occasion, and serves no useful purpose in the mean time. Yeah, I deleted those files. What are you going to do about it?

    Seriously, why the hell are these files in here?

    As you can see, I've highlighted the fact that Rhythmbox is telling me that these files are missing from my mobile device. No shit.

  4. Shared Libraries that I can’t Play: So we’ve known for awhile now that Apple broke the ability to connect to iTunes via the DAAP protocol, and that it’s not possible to connect to a shared iTunes library from Linux. If that’s the case, why does Rhythmbox still show these libraries as available? And how come it shows my library under this node? Why would I listen to my own shared library? Finally, I’ve found that even if I’m running Rhythmbox on another machine, I still can’t connect to my shared library. This feature seems to be downright broken – so why is it still in the build?
  5. The GUI and Backend are on One Thread: I keep about half of my music collection as lossless FLAC files. When I want to rip these files to my portable media device, they need to be converted to the Mp3 format. Turns out that Rhythmbox thinks it appropriate to transcode these files on the same thread that it uses to update its GUI, so that while this process is taking place, the app becomes laggy, and at times, downright unusable. Further, the application doesn’t seem to give me any control over the bitrate that my songs are transcoded to. Fuck!
  6. Lack of Playlist Options: Smart playlists in Rhythmbox are missing a rather key feature: Randomness. When filling the aforementioned mobile device with music, I would like to select a random 4GB of music from my top rated playlist. But I can’t. I can select 4GB of music by most every criteria except randomness, which means that I get the same 600 or so songs on my device every time I fill it. This is strange, because I can shuffle the contents of a static playlist; But I cannot randomly fill a smart playlist. Great.

    If you have a device that has a small amount of memory, this feature is essential

    It's funny; I really want to like Rhythmbox, but it's shit like this that ruins the experience for me

  7. Columns: What the fuck. Who wrote this part of the application? When I choose the columns that are visible in the main window, I can’t re-order them. That’s right. So the only order that I can put my columns in is Track, Title, Genre, Artist, Album, Year, Time, Quality, Rating. Can’t reorder them at all, and I have to go into the preferences menu to choose which ones are displayed, instead of being able to right-click on the column headers to select them like I can in every other program written in the last 10 years. This is just ridiculous. I know that the GTK+ toolkit allows you to create re-order-able columns, because I’ve seen it done.

    This is just so incredibly backward. I mean, columns are a standard part of the GTK+ toolkit, and I've seen plenty of other apps that do this properly.

    Why, for the love of God, can't these be re-ordered?

  8. The Equalizer is Balls: No presets, and no preamp. So I can set the EQ, and my settings are magically saved, but I can only have one setting, because there doesn’t appear to be a way to create multiple profiles. And louder music sounds like balls, because I can’t turn down the preamp, so I get digital distortion throughout my signal. It would be better to just not have an equalizer at all.

    I mean, it works. But...

    I mean, it works. But...

  9. Context Menus Don’t Make Sense: Let’s just take a look at this context menu for a moment. There are three ways to remove a song from a playlist. You can Remove the song, which just removes it from the playlist, but not from your library or your hard drive. Alternatively, you can select Move to Trash, which does what you might expect – it removes the song from the playlist, the library, and your computer. I’ve got a problem with the naming conventions here. The purpose of Remove isn’t well explained, and confused the hell out of me at first. In addition, when browsing a mobile device that you’ve filled with music, the GUI breaks down even further. In this case, you can still hit Remove, which seems to remove the song from Rhythmbox’s listing, but leaves the file on the device. So now I have a file on my device that I can’t access. Great. The right-click menu also has the ability to copy and cut the song, even though there is no immediately obvious way to paste it. For that functionality, you’ll have to head up to the Edit menu.

    The right-click context menu

    I'm starting to run out of anger. The 10,000 papercuts that come along with this app are making me numb to it.

  10. No Command Line Tools: Now, normally, this wouldn’t bother me too much. A music library is something that’s meant to have a GUI, and doesn’t generally lend itself to working from the command line. In this case however, command line access to Rhythmbox would be really handy, because I’d like to set up a hot key on my keyboard that will skip songs or pause playback. Unfortunately, there’s no way to do that within the software, and it doesn’t have any command line arguments that I can call instead. Balls.

There you have it, 10 things that really ruin the Rhythmbox experience. While using this piece of software, I felt like the developers worked really hard to build something that was sort of comparable to Apple’s iTunes, and then stopped trying. That isn’t good enough! If we want to attract users to our platform of choice, and keep them here, we need to give them reasons to check it out, and even more to stick around. If I say to you that I want to have the best Linux media player, you tend to put the emphasis on the word Linux. Why not just make the best media player? GNOME is on at least half of all Linux desktops, if not more. Why hinder it with software that gives people a poor first impression of what Linux is capable of? Seriously guys, let’s step it up.

On my Laptop, I am running Linux Mint 12.
On my home media server, I am running Ubuntu 12.04
Check out my profile for more information.
  1. Tyler B
    May 5th, 2010 at 22:49 | #1

    The Rythmbox to Rythmbox DAAP sharing not working just doesn’t make any sense to me. I have two machines, running the same OS/Distro, on the same network, with no firewall, and it still doesn’t work? Come on…

  2. May 6th, 2010 at 00:32 | #2

    I agree that most media players in Linux focus on functionality and not usability or looks. When I really think about it though, I don’t know a single player that is amazing on any OS. iTunes really is quite horrible on anything other than OSX and the only reason it is good on OSX is cause there is no other choice. Winamp was good for its time, but its time was 10+ years ago. WMP has become really nice and can do cool things (including internet streaming for computers in the same homegroup) but is too bloated. The best looking and functional player I have ever used lately is probably the Zune software. It is still far too bloated, doesn’t handle enough codecs, and is limited in functionality but it is dead simple to use and looks amazing (mixview is quite a handy feature too and the mini player is better than itunes or wmp).
    I guess that is one of the main reasons I don’t use media players on my computers. I use media players on my media center machines. XBMC is by far the best looking and highest functioning media player out there (WMC7 is a close second for best looking), but when it comes down too it, if I want to listen to music while I am away from my media center, I just go to pandora because I paid the $30/yr for a pro account.

  3. May 6th, 2010 at 08:37 | #3

    Well, point by point:

    1 – misdirected. This is nothing to do with Rhythmbox. All it does is define the name of icon it wants; it’s up to the desktop to provide the actual icon, which it does according either to the distro defaults or to your preferences, depending on whether you’ve set any. There’s nothing Rhythmbox could do to make you happy here besides hard-code its own icon set, which would suck. Ditto with the deps; this has nothing to do with Rhythmbox, but with your distro. The player doesn’t implement the dependencies, the distro packaging does it. It’s worth noting RB is expressly part of GNOME, it is not intended to be a platform-independent player. Using it in KDE really isn’t the idea.

    2 – I believe it actually starts however you left it, so if you closed the window and then quit from the tray last time you ran it, it’ll start up in the tray last time, but if you quit with the window open, the window will be open when you run it again.

    3 – It’s not possible for Rhythmbox to magically know why the files aren’t there. In your case it’s because you deleted them so this seems odd, but that’s not always the case. Fr’instance, I keep all my music on a NAS share, which sometimes isn’t mounted when I start RB. If RB promptly removed all those tracks from its database, I’d be rather fucked off. It doesn’t, it just marks them as missing, then when I mount the NAS share, it notices and they all come back quickly. Don’t assume your use case is the only one.

    4 – Don’t know much about this one, sorry.

    5 – reasonable point.

    6 – Dunno. I don’t use that kind of feature. I find it a rather odd way to listen to music myself, but oh well.

    7 – valid point again, but probably not worth that level of vitriol.

    8 – seems reasonable, but I don’t know why you’d ever go within twenty feet of a software EQ if you actually care about music. eww. (FWIW, in situations where there’s no choice, I’ve found it often works to set no channel higher than 50% – don’t use the full range of the sliders, set the one you want to be highest to 50%, and adjust the others accordingly, then bump up your speaker volume. Often, this way, the software EQ does no actual gain, so you don’t get distortion).

    9 – again, wow, you’re really picky.

    10 – RB uses the GNOME configuration for this, it doesn’t have its own. Again, it’s part of GNOME, not a standalone music player. You can set shortcut keys for audio functions in gnome-keybinding-properties, and RB will use them.

    You certainly have some valid points, but I dunno if it’s enough to say RB sucks. Or if you want to say it sucks, any other music player I’ve ever used sucks too. *shrug*

  4. GregE
    May 6th, 2010 at 09:10 | #4

    2 The Player Starts in the Tray:

    Only if you shut it down by clicking on the cross on the title bar, if you close it via the menu then it opens next time normally. Amarok also works like that.

    Under Ubuntu 10.04 Rhythmbox controls my daughters iPod Touch, adding and removing songs without any reference to iTunes. Of course once you do that you have to leave iTunes behind forever, otherwise iTunes has a sync hissy fit. Ubuntu Rhythmbox also now has the Ubuntu One music store, via 7Digital, with the number of available songs depending on where you live.

    I prefer Amarok and my Creative Zen. The Zen integrates into Amarok smoothly. Of course we do not have any iTunes DRM crap, ours are all CD rips or DRM free MP3s from a variety of online stores. I have a D-Link DNS-323 NAS with a music library and setup to be an iTunes server (D-Link software) and Amarok and Rhythmbox both detect the music and stream it just fine.

  5. KimTjik
    May 6th, 2010 at 09:38 | #5

    1. This probably proves that you somewhat base this rant on wrong premisses.

    2. Installed it just to check and it always starts from its last state, in tray or open.

    3. Already commented. You seem not to appreciate that it builds a database for better control. You can update that database whenever you want.

    4. It’s your choice to by an Apple product and you know the deal: Apple doesn’t want anyone to mixture with some parts of their product. I wouldn’t however rule out that some still have players using a workable protocol, and secondly Apple is making themselves look stupid by playing this catchup game.

    5. Send a bug report and it will probably be fixed. To get upset over something that’s fixable and probably a bug is counter productive, unless you want something to rant about.

    6 – 7. If you think it’s a necessary feature pass the suggestions to the developers. Do you think that developers hang out on the net in search of critical rants?

    8. Vanilla Rhythmbox doesn’t have a Equalizer, hence it looks like you’ve got a plug-in installed by default. If it doesn’t work ask the packagers for your distribution why it’s installed by default.

    9. …

    10. Rhythmbox actually has command line options. Even I who doesn’t use, and haven’t used Rhythmbox found those quickly. “rhythmbox-client –help” will give you a long list of all possible commands.

  6. Jon F
    May 6th, 2010 at 21:00 | #6

    @Rothgar – I couldn’t agree more. I’ve used a lot of media players on a lot of platforms, and XBMC really is the only one that has ever really wowed me. I pay for a last.fm account, so when I’m away from home, I generally use it too.

    @Adam – In reference to #3, the point that I was trying to make is that Rhythmbox ought to know that I’m deleting the songs from a mobile device, and act accordingly. If my music is on a shared drive, sure. But in this case, I’m deleting it from a device that’s meant to be filled with subsets of my music library. To the rest of your points, sure, as media player software goes, it’s ok. But it could be better than ok.

    @GregE – If you’re correct about the fact that the application behaves differently depending on how you close it, I can only say: Why the fuck? Under what circumstances is it cool for a user to have to figure that pattern out? Further, I call horse shit on the claim that you can connect to an iTunes library from Rhythmbox. It has never once worked for me in all the time that we’ve been running this site.

    @KimTjik – with respect to iTunes streaming: great, yes, you’re right, Apple is not friendly to Linux. The point wasn’t to bash Apple, it was that Rhythmbox shouldn’t show the library. This isn’t Apple’s fault. As far as the other features go, sure, I’ll join the project. I am a programmer, and would love to commit my time to making it better. But that doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t point out valid concerns with the software – just because it’s free doesn’t mean that it has to be crappy. Finally, when it comes to command line arguments: Why do I run the app with the command ‘rhythmbox’, but access the command line options with ‘rhythmbox-client’? That’s just plain ridiculous

    Thanks for your input guys, but I’m not convinced. The default media player application for all of GNOME could be a lot better.

  7. GregE
    May 7th, 2010 at 00:15 | #7

    “Further, I call horse shit on the claim that you can connect to an iTunes library from Rhythmbox.”

    Not exactly what I said, I have a library of MP3s on a NAS, and the NAS acts as an iTunes server. And Rhythmbox and Amarok can both access that iTunes server. The difference is that it is D-Link’s iTunes server not Apples’. I currently use Rhythmbox 0.12.8 under Sidux and KDE 4.4.3. Under Ubuntu 10.04 and same Rhythmbox version (kid’s computer), Rhythmbox accesses the NAS iTunes server as it should – no setup required it auto detects it on the network. I do feel Amarok does a better job of network streaming, although that is purely subjective.

    An iTunes library on a local machine may be a different story, but then I would link the software direct to the folder with the music in it and ignore iTunes altogether.

  8. Jon F
    May 7th, 2010 at 17:59 | #8

    @GregE – In that case, I apologize for my response; I misunderstood your situation. In my case, my room mate has an iTunes library that is shared on the local network. The library shows up in Rhythmbox, but cannot, and never has been, mounted since Apple changed their DAAP implementation. My whole point here is that since Rhythmbox cannot mount the share, it shouldn’t be shown in the GUI.

  9. GregE
    May 7th, 2010 at 21:01 | #9


    It is not impossible that the issue is one of Linux – Windows – Mac networking, can you see and access a shared folder on that same machine? If you cannot that issue would need to be fixed first.

  10. isileth
    May 8th, 2010 at 13:40 | #10

    I completely agree with you.
    I use Linux all the time and mediaplayers are by far the worst applications of the lot.
    I tried a lot of them, in the desperate hope to have something usable and working all the time in the same way, but until now the experience has not been that good.
    Rhythmbox is pretty bad, but also Amarok is pretty bad.
    A few years ago I tried to rename and reorganize my music collection using the feature contained in Amarok.
    I had to to give up when I discovered that it had started renaming my file with the “mp3” extensions 3 or 4 times in a row, not to mention that the reorganizing made no sense at all.

  11. erxgli
    May 8th, 2010 at 16:40 | #11

    You’ve never tried Media Monkey.

  12. May 10th, 2010 at 12:23 | #12

    I agree with you in principle. Considering the MASSIVE push towards digital media of all types, I find it ridiculous that there isn’t a ‘really good’ linux media player. Having said that, there are some specific points where I disagree.

    As has been mentioned, it’s as hard as ticking a box to decide whether Rhythmbox starts windowed or in the tray. I like the missing files view, it lets me know if I’ve accidentally deleted something or if I go to find a track and it’s not there, the ‘missing files’ tells me what’s happened.

    And, most importantly, the sharing works brilliantly. (For me at least)

    I have a desktop with my music library that is wired into the house network. There is the media pc in the living room (shared by everyone, wired) and my netbook (just me, wifi) that can both see my music on my desktop and play it non-stop. Never even noticed any slow down streaming via wifi.

    Screencaps of my netbook to prove it:


    And to prove that my netbook’s library is empty (small SSD, no room).


  13. madura
    May 15th, 2010 at 10:03 | #13

    use vlc 1.1 it has a media library ..etc I don’t know about special devices support since I only own a simple MP3 player 😛
    BTW for EQs use a system wide EQ theres one for PulseAudio

  14. Tenebrous
    May 17th, 2010 at 01:35 | #14

    I use rhythmbox in it’s GNOME environment, but my only [current] issue is the randomization of songs. I even used a 7 song library and it took itself to cycle through at least 14 tracks (repeating a couple quite often) to just go through each unique one. I find that to be quite absurd. It pretty much undermines the use of any media player in my opinion, unless you’re alright with listening to songs in the same order each time (which is fine I guess but I personally couldn’t stand it after a relatively short amount of time).

  15. Conrad
    May 23rd, 2010 at 22:09 | #15

    type this into your terminal:

    rhythmbox-client –help

    there’s all your command line tools

    there’s also lirc support – which is how I use it myself – that has other features like shuffle/repeat toggling you can use in your remote

    you can also talk to it via the DBUS interface, although that’s really more of a generic linux thing rather than specific to this particular program

    the rest of your points – I won’t go as far as saying you’re actually WRONG but it seems like you’re just having a whinge coz you saw some feature on some other player (Itunes?) and you think ALL players should have that…

    I’m not saying RB is the absolute best anyone’s ever done but it seems like you made up your mind before actually trying it and just had a quick look around and found some stuff to justify your position

  16. Jon F
    May 26th, 2010 at 19:07 | #16

    Honestly Conrad, I wish that it were the case. Instead, I installed Rhythmbox and spent a month using it heavily in an effort to really understand what it was all about.
    The point that I was trying to make is that it isn’t the best. Far from it – and yet it’s the default media solution for the world’s most popular desktop Linux distribution. If we want people to take Linux seriously as a platform, we need to give them reasons. Great software that not only hits feature parity with competing Windows- or Mac-based software, but in fact surpasses it, is a good reason.
    I understand that I’m a heavy media player user, and thus am perhaps more demanding than your average user, but I don’t think that I’m being too harsh. Rhythmbox is not a great piece of software. It’s merely a good one, and we can do better.

  17. Peter
    May 27th, 2010 at 20:21 | #17

    Although there are many poor media players on Linux, Songbird is boss, if you’re struggling to find a good music player for Linux (also for Windows), try it out. Also added benefit of being made by Mozilla is that it has a built in web browser. All it needs is video support and it will be a phenomenal piece of software!

  18. Jon F
    May 27th, 2010 at 23:00 | #18

    @Peter – I’ve been a fan of Songbird for years, and have used every point release on one operating system or another. Not sure how I feel about the built-in web browser though. It always seemed like a bloaty kind of design decision. I already have a web browser open throughout most of my day, so I understand why they might do it, but what if I just need to hit one page, and don’t want my music library to load at the same time? Further, while ‘feathers’ are cool, the last time that I checked in on the project, it didn’t inherit the default system GUI very well, which is a shame. Finally, I hear that they’ve stopped official support for Linux. Allegedly, the nightengale project (http://getnightingale.org) has taken up the slack, but I’ve yet to see a working release from them.

  19. jema
    June 3rd, 2010 at 13:30 | #19

    For me the complete and utter failure of Rhythmbox is that it bases its function on assumptions, and we all know what they are famous for.
    – All music files are properly and uniformly tagged. If you got them all from something like iTunes where this can be guaranteed it might work but that’s not really the case in the real world is it?
    – All playback is to be made from playlist. Its not really what you want is it? It took me way to long to figure out how I could just choose and play one song by choosing the file in the the structure I’ve made on disk.

    I really liked Amarok back in the version 1 days, it was like a souped up winamp, direct to the point and useful features. Unfortunately v2 is distilled rubbish (as much else in KDE4) as the devs seems to have lost sight of what a music player should do, which is to play music and nothing else.

  20. Jon F
    June 6th, 2010 at 11:12 | #20

    @jema – In some respects I agree. I do like having the database layer on top of the music player to enable sorting, searching, and rating of my music collection. I have an awful lot of music, so that helps me to keep track of it all. However, you’re definitely right about Amarok. It’s not about playing music at all, and the devs seem to have totally lost sight of what’s important. I wanted to try it so that I could write a review for the site, and couldn’t even load my library, because it has no function to import from a playlist! You can only import from the file system, so if you have your collection organized, you lose it all on conversion.

  21. ghos
    June 6th, 2010 at 18:54 | #21

    While I agree with a few of the points mentioned, I’m not sure why you would use Rhythmbox in KDE when Amarok is a far better program. Its not perfect either but as I use it more I am liking it. I have also use Songbird 1.4.3 in Linux KDE and Gnome without issue.

    If there is one important point you made its that apps should work better cross environment, not only in Gnome or only in KDE.

    My issues have to do some with what you mentioned, but also no skinning in most Linux players. Why? Its a feature many look for but you don’t have to use. Also adding additional functionality through extensions or plugins seems minimal with most Linux media players.
    There is no reason why Linux players can’t be better than their counterparts on other OS’s.

  22. Adam
    June 7th, 2010 at 12:55 | #22

    I’ve been using MT-DAAPD quite successfully for sharing music libraries on my network. My machines are all Linux so I can’t speak about iTunes. But it works great with my Roku Sound Bridge and Rhythmbox.

  23. Jon F
    June 8th, 2010 at 00:49 | #23

    @Adam – Thanks for the tip. I’ll look into MT-DAAPD, because I’d love to be able to share my library with the computer in our living room, and Rhythmbox just doesn’t seem to cut it.

  24. agreed
    June 8th, 2010 at 13:07 | #24

    Agreed agreed agreed. Why are they all so amazingly poor.

    >>use vlc 1.1

    Great codec support but the UI design is idiotic. Er… cancel that statement. There WAS no UI design. (Have you seen the crazily over complicated dialog for opening a DVD?) Furthermore, it struggles to read subtitle files, despite purporting to support them. Simple example of this is that if you use the slider to move to another part of the movie, it immediately forgets you were watching the subtitles.

  25. eyrieowl
    June 24th, 2010 at 17:31 | #25

    lack of an equalizer. your equalizer plugin looks sucky. i found a slightly better one with profiles. however, still no preamp setting. it should have a decent equalizer built in. period.

    can not properly display “quality” for VBR files. Mine all show up as being something from 96-144kbps. I suspect they are showing lowest, which isn’t very helpful. average would be nice…at least as an option. I really don’t care what the lowest bitrate vbr was able to get in a track…i do care what the effective bitrate is when i’m looking at my library so i can see if i have files which are good candidates for replacing.

    Should seperate out library browsing from playing. Yes, like Winamp. If I play something from my media library, and continue browsing, it should continue playing the album i started playing, not whatever I’m currently looking at as I browse. Tres Annoying.

    There’s a lot of other Winamp features I’d like to see, but I can’t complain too much…I chose to use ubuntu instead of windows…my fault that I can’t use a decent media player.

  26. Caveman
    August 10th, 2010 at 07:19 | #26

    One more thing about Rhythmbox..Shortcut keys suck =(..Ctrl+space to play songs – From the beginning!!

  27. September 4th, 2010 at 06:11 | #27

    I second that. Regardless of how much poeple might dislike Windows, Media Monkey the best music player and MANAGER in any distro yet.

  28. Jon F
    September 4th, 2010 at 11:43 | #28

    @Lenin I had a great time with Media Monkey before I switched over to Linux full time. I even paid for a pro license.

    Since writing this article, I’ve switched over to Banshee full time, and have a lot less hate for it. Granted, it still needs some polish, but it’s way farther ahead than Rhythmbox, and if it weren’t for the silly politics surrounding Novell and Mono, I think that it would be better suited as the GNOME default. A friend and I have also started writing our own Linux media player, in an effort to show the community how it should be done. It’s been slow going so far, but I’m loving GStreamer development.

  29. Nabu
    September 22nd, 2010 at 07:54 | #29

    This is completely out of any reasonable comparison.

    Trying to put Winamp/iTunes vs Rhythmbox?!! How arrogant!

    Why don’t U try Winamp vs Songbird?!!

    In fact – better don’t – because U’re gonna find yourself in questions. Winamp is equal to Xmms or Audacious – no more (they tried to put some fancy stuff in later Winamp versions, just to make it more complex – but the basics still work the same. And radio stream in Winamp sucks completely)

    What You can really confront is iTunes vs Songbird & Winamp vs Audacious/Xmms/Amarok

    and @ D end : Windows Media Player vs Rhythmbox.

    This would be the fair approach, otherwise, this thread insults people’s intelligence, and U’re making yourself stupid just to prove Windows is better than Linux – no reason for that – both have their advantages and falls.

    Maybe U wait for Iron Man to come and build some fancy player in which U would just think of some song, and it’ll play it for U automatically, all along with hologramic 3d equalizer to suit your precious needs.

  30. Geoff
    September 25th, 2010 at 04:59 | #30

    You should try Foobar2000. I miss it very much from Windows.

    I second #7, columns reordering is a must.

  31. Jon F
    September 26th, 2010 at 12:27 | #31

    Please explain to me why it’s unfair of me to compare Rhythmbox to either Winamp or iTunes. All three are media players whose stated intent is to manage my media library for me. On this basis alone, all three can be easily compared.
    The next time that you comment, please attempt to do so constructively, and to use legible english that other literate people can read and understand. As it stands, your rant makes little sense, and you aren’t contributing constructively to this discussion.

  32. Vega
    October 18th, 2010 at 06:32 | #32

    all audio players suck compared to foobar.
    it is depressing because you can’t use it on linux
    let’s pray some developper manages to clone it faithfully

  33. November 29th, 2010 at 22:19 | #33

    Here’s another stupid one, I can add multiple locations in the preferences, but I can’t seem to ever remove them, it just says ‘Multiple locations set’ with no way of editing where those multiple locations are. Found this post while Googling for an answer to that.

    Also agree MediaMonkey kicked 10 bails out of any other media manager I’ve used since. I actually wrote the MonkeyRok plugin for it many years ago as a blatant rip-off of the Amarok info panel, and it’s since been taken over by other devs and turned into an amazingly useful plugin while the Amarok2 one is a pile off useless poop now.

  34. Chris Fleming
    December 4th, 2010 at 06:09 | #34

    If Rhythmbox is so bad why don’t you become God’s gift to the free software movement and create the perfect player yourself: I dare suspect the truth is you lack the skills to do so.

  35. Jon F
    December 5th, 2010 at 11:53 | #35

    @Chris Flemming:
    In my day job, I’m a capable programmer with a computer science degree and many successful applications under my belt. I could indeed spend my time writing a new media player that is better than rhythmbox, but I’d rather spend it annoying people like you. The interesting thing is that most every comment on this post agrees with me when I say that rhythmbox isn’t as good as it could be. That’s not to say that it’s hopeless, it’s just to say that we as a community can do better. Kindly take your negativity elsewhere.

  36. Quo Vadis
    October 5th, 2011 at 22:16 | #36

    I stumbled on this late and couldn’t help but comment. Seriously? Rhythmbox is great and all Linux music players have their own advantages and disadvantages. Rhythmbox is the only one (that I’ve found) that actually has a useful DAAP plugin that allows you to share not just your music but your playlists. And to actually criticize Rhythmbox because it looks poor in KDE is just….asinine. Last I checked, Rhythmbox was for Gnome.

  37. Quo Vadis
    October 5th, 2011 at 22:20 | #37

    Another thing. The complaint about the missing files view is also asinine. The library file and what you have on your hard drive are two different things. Should a music player just assume that you deleted a file or should it let you know that files that are listed in the library don’t exist so that you can check if they were moved or deleted accidentally. Further, iTunes doesn’t even do this, iTunes waits until you click on a file to tell you it’s missing.

  38. OnionReader
    October 30th, 2011 at 13:58 | #38

    This article reads like it was written for “The Onion”…

  39. banjoboye
    November 25th, 2011 at 23:11 | #39

    I totally agree with you on your points, Jon F. Three words: lame, lame and lame.
    My biggest beef not listed:
    When I manually create a playlist in iTunes, i typically drag a cd onto that playlist, which both populates the playlist and imports the files in one drag and drop. I find no useful drag and drop support in Rhythmbox.
    Please correct me if I am wrong.
    No control over bitrate really frosts me too.
    And yes, I lack the skills to augment the Rhythmbox code. I am just the banjo player.

  40. Imran-UK
    December 28th, 2011 at 13:49 | #40

    I’ve tried many players on Debian and Ubuntu and settled on Clementine as a audio player/library management app that gets it *just right*, looks good and is easy to ease.


  41. andy
    January 25th, 2012 at 05:55 | #41

    8 – seems reasonable, but I don’t know why you’d ever go within twenty feet of a software EQ if you actually care about music. eww. (FWIW, in situations where there’s no choice, I’ve found it often works to set no channel higher than 50% – don’t use the full range of the sliders, set the one you want to be highest to 50%, and adjust the others accordingly, then bump up your speaker volume. Often, this way, the software EQ does no actual gain, so you don’t get distortion).

    this is a very important point. lets see…software EQ from an audio player, bass boosters, normalization, replay gain – these are all destructive and disrespectful to the music just like earbuds are. you use an eq for room adjustment but generally only in a live environment so that instrumen

    Adam Williamson :
    Well, point by point:
    1 – misdirected. This is nothing to do with Rhythmbox. All it does is define the name of icon it wants; it’s up to the desktop to provide the actual icon, which it does according either to the distro defaults or to your preferences, depending on whether you’ve set any. There’s nothing Rhythmbox could do to make you happy here besides hard-code its own icon set, which would suck. Ditto with the deps; this has nothing to do with Rhythmbox, but with your distro. The player doesn’t implement the dependencies, the distro packaging does it. It’s worth noting RB is expressly part of GNOME, it is not intended to be a platform-independent player. Using it in KDE really isn’t the idea.
    2 – I believe it actually starts however you left it, so if you closed the window and then quit from the tray last time you ran it, it’ll start up in the tray last time, but if you quit with the window open, the window will be open when you run it again.
    3 – It’s not possible for Rhythmbox to magically know why the files aren’t there. In your case it’s because you deleted them so this seems odd, but that’s not always the case. Fr’instance, I keep all my music on a NAS share, which sometimes isn’t mounted when I start RB. If RB promptly removed all those tracks from its database, I’d be rather fucked off. It doesn’t, it just marks them as missing, then when I mount the NAS share, it notices and they all come back quickly. Don’t assume your use case is the only one.
    4 – Don’t know much about this one, sorry.
    5 – reasonable point.
    6 – Dunno. I don’t use that kind of feature. I find it a rather odd way to listen to music myself, but oh well.
    7 – valid point again, but probably not worth that level of vitriol.
    ts will “fit” into the mix, and to avoid feedback. Unless you are listening in a cave or a cathedral or perhaps underwater you should listen to it how it is meant to sound…it will already have its sweet spot eqs built in by band/producer/engineer/mastering engineer – so unless it is like Raw Power where everyone was too coked up to really know whether to make it abrasive or bassy then EQ should be avoided. (And I believe that album has two reissues, each restoring a different perspective). I would only suggest it on those occasions where the CD has been released in that 80s-90s period where they often got the mastering totally wrong going from vinyl to CD.

    This is the kind of thing that always put me off getting fully involved in Foobar (apart from the fact that it, like most everything else, was completely inadequate at managing my library). (Separate rant here) I mean maybe ReplayGain isn’t compression per se, but even if it is just straight amplitude gain isn’t there going to be some sort of limiter on top, which I also presume of normalization algorithyms. I won’t even normalize with steinberg, stuffed if I am going to do it in an app that is only there to display, categorise and render the artwork towards my eardrums! If I need something louder or quieter I only have like two or three volume controls en route to the speakers (plus Remote app). The whole scenario only gets worse if you are playing a lossy format (I didn’t have the luxury of space for lossless when I started encoding my cd library a decade ago and…oh, actually think that is still the case). If you really want improvements, start with the amp/speakers then move to the DAC and your motherboard/audio interface (I love that AirTunes bypasses the m/b contamination because Realtek etc have only gone backwards).

    Anyway, back vaguely on topic, I was meant to be giving Exaile and Clementine a run off… but I think Clementine has it won before the first hurdle. This is possibly a good audio player – and yes, every one I have ever used I have hated. blah

  42. andy
    January 25th, 2012 at 05:57 | #42

    footnote: stay away from the loudness wars, ipods and earbuds and overcompressed radio singles have not been good for the art of pop music

  43. February 2nd, 2012 at 22:06 | #43

    So you found some anoying things in opensource music players but insted of posting a request on the developers website or fileing a bug you just want to bitch about free software?

    At least you made it into the search ranking…..

    If u have feature request please make them known to the developers this is how opensource software gets improved.


  44. ole
    June 24th, 2012 at 03:26 | #44

    it’s 2012 and the most of your critics is still valid… that sucks!

  45. December 13th, 2012 at 14:48 | #45

    It’s 2012 and you’re still wrong! Last.fm doesn’t integrate now because, well, Last.fm changed up their API. Rhythmbox integrates beautifully with my iPod for music/podcasts. It does what I need it to do without a lot of extra stuff.

  46. Dale
    January 11th, 2013 at 08:13 | #46

    I listen to music in 2 different ways at home. The first is sitting in the family room selecting songs & cranking the volume. The other is to play the music as background when we are working around the house or have company. When I sit & listen to music I want the full range of the songs & adjusting the volume from song to song is not an issue. When I’m playing it as background music it would be nice to have the volume between tracks controlled so I’m not having to adjust it. For that reason I think that volume levelling is a feature that should be on all media players. Having said that it would be nice to have a button to turn it on & off without having to select menus & change views like you do in some players. Media players are always going to be like most other programs. No one program is going to do everything to everyone’s satisfaction. Such is life.

  47. Oldie Frank
    February 6th, 2013 at 16:04 | #47

    As a Linux GUI newbie my very petty but to me incredibly annoying pet hate is that when I shut Rhythmbox using the “x” button it carries on playing. Several times I’ve wasted ages googling for the magic CTRL-Q. (I think it’s finally sunk in now). And no, I don’t want to open a terminal to shut down a GUI application. Why should I have to?

    Is it just me who thinks the purpose of a GUI is to make applications easy to use? Doesn’t “x” mean “close”? Rhythmbox seems to think it means “minimise”….so why is there also a “minimise” button? Wouldn’t it have been easier to have the “x” do what it usually does? Oh right, “x” removes the icon from the left hand side of the screen. Hmmmm.

    I have more substantial complaints than this about Rhythmbox but this seems to typify it to me. I’m a retired analyst/programmer and my continual reaction to it is “who the f*** designed this?”. Having read the comments above about the general poor quality of alternatives it almost makes me think I ought to be writing a replacement…but I’m too lazy and, well, retired. Life’s too short to be b*****ing around with code I don’t need to.

    Why haven’t I made a “feature request”?
    (1) It seems so obvious to me it shouldn’t need one.
    (2) No doubt it’s a cherished feature of the software and changing it would cause more complaints than it’s worth.
    (3) Personally I think it would be a better idea for someone to write a new product from scratch.

    Good luck to anyone writing a replacement…but like me, I don’t suppose anybody can be bothered.

  48. Nicholas
    March 12th, 2013 at 00:22 | #48

    8) In all honesty, a preamp is pointless on an EQ unless you enjoy massive amounts of hard clipping.

  49. March 19th, 2013 at 04:59 | #49

    I’ve been using Linux, Windows and to a lesser extent OSX for high performance lossless audio playback since 2007. Linux Audio has some performance advantages over other OSs when paired with extremely high performance gear (we’re talking $10k+ systems). In ways that matter to most people Linux Audio is a disaster. MPD or JACK will take a week or two in most cases to get working, except for the cases where you can’t get it working at all.

    Then there’s the problem with the players. Anyone who’s remotely satisfied with any Linux player has never tried Foobar (or are not aware how it can be modified) or JRiver. Take ALSA Player and let’s say you have more than 10 songs in your music library and don’t feel like clicking through a million songs to create a playlist every time you want to listen to music…in that case it’s bad news. Like a number of other Linux players, completely worthless and there is no Linux player that can be customized to any extent that’s worth mentioning.

    Compatibility is a major problem. Nobody makes Linux drivers for USB DACs, so for the 80% of high-end DACs that don’t use basic USB 2.0 drivers you have to use another connection type, which can limit your ability to get the best performance on a number of units and require you to buy a sound card. There is no Linux freeware Linux USB driver, such as ASIO4All, that can be used to get USB working.

    That’s it in a nutshell. Good sound with Real Time setup. Extremely difficult to impossible to get working properly, lacking any decent functionality or customizability and not compatible with most gear. Now that Foobar has added some priority setting options for the driver, Windows / Foobar is a much better solution for high performance audio.

  50. March 30th, 2013 at 23:53 | #50

    Its now 2013…. One really lacking feature is Rhythmbox is that you cannot drag a playlist to the queue. Should’n’t this be basic functionality?

    Yet another *really* glaring problem is the plugin system. Many of the plugins need to be installed on the command line and in different ways. Thats ok for us techies, but how would any regular user be able to figure this out?

    Some of the plugins such as the Cover Art plugin are just accepted as normal in a gui application. Why is this a third party plugin anyway?

    And why are those tree expanding list icons on the *right* of the list instead of the left like in every other application on this planet?

    So in 2013….

    Amarok/Clementine: Ugly cluttered and confusing interfaces
    Quodlibet: Developer hates playlists. Works well if you want to play your music via regular expressions.
    Banshee: More bugs than ever; Unuseable on some recent distros, (Fedora and others)
    Rhythmbox: Basic features missing; Weird interface issues; Uninstallable plugins for the average users.

    Thats where we’re at….

  1. May 5th, 2010 at 23:07 | #1
  2. October 6th, 2010 at 22:28 | #2
  3. October 6th, 2010 at 22:35 | #3
  4. October 20th, 2010 at 22:10 | #4