Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Playing Music Files in Ubuntu

Well, my first major hang-up in Ubuntu. And it's the expected one. Because mp3 files are the most common format, most people want to be able to play them out-of-the-box. However, Ubuntu cannot include codecs for mp3 files due to copyright issues. This means you have to add it on after you install. And it's not as nice & straightforward as the other tasks I’ve completed.

I tried several of the available players, CD rippers, etc. Here’s the rundown:

Rhythmbox – Blah! Unless I want to generate error messages, this sucker's useless for me. I tried to follow the on-line instructions for reading mp3s BUT for whatever reason my computer isn't allowing me to "Edit Profiles" for file types. It’s possible this may be a side effect of using the virtual install so I will hold off on permanently deleting this until I switch to a permanent install.

Sound Juicer – While it plays CDs fine, ripping them to mp3s will be a problem for me. I have the same problem here as with Rhythmbox in that it won’t allow me to "Edit Profiles" for files types per the on-line instructions. The menus for both applications are exactly the same so it’s likely whatever is messing up one is affecting the other.

Movie Player – Plays mp3s no problem after an install from Synaptic but can't handle wma files. Also, the play function is very buggy. It gets stuck moving from song-to-song often so you can’t just leave it running in the background.

Audacious – The 1st application that could play mp3s out-of-the-box. You have to add this thru “Add/Remove...” under the Applications menu. Functional (and small) but not much else. Also, there appears to be a limit to how many songs you can add to the playlist (~250). I have 2200+ songs so that’s a big downside. However, this could continuously and without bugs play my mp3 files. That’s a big upside.

XMMS – Similar to Audacious and also available through "Add/Remove..". Also can play .mp3s right away. This programs got more features and none of the hang-ups of Audacious (playlist size limit). Also, there's a skins package available through Synaptic that's really good. I think this will be my player of preference for now.

Gnomad2 – Specially created program for recognizing my Creative Zen mp3 player. It’s available through the repositories accessible with Synaptic. The interface is a bit sparse and the preferences are jargon heavy so they can be intimidating. However, once I got it working, I greatly prefer it to the Creative Zen Software for Windows. One thing, Gnomad only picks up my player when I plug it in AFTER opening Gnomad. Then, I click "Jukebox Library" --> “Scan for Library contents”. Aside from that little trick, it’s very easy to use.

What I need to do is convert my wma files to mp3s so I can play them. I’ll be looking into that over the next couple of weeks.

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