I’ve seen a lot of articles lately about the release of Banshee 1.0, the Gnome music player “written in C# on the Mono platform using GNOME technologies” (from the website). For some people the mono platform alone would be reason enough to bash Banshee, but I don’t care about that. I do get curious however when people claim that Banshee will replace Rhythmbox as the default Gnome media player on their system. I’ve used Rhythmbox. It’s pretty good. I was curious what Banshee had to offer.
Actually, quite a lot. The list of features is too long to sum up here, but I can see why Rhythmbox-users would install Banshee instead. There are a lot of interesting features here, like the beautiful last.fm integration, the play queue, and the expanded search functionality. I’m just naming a few that are interesting to me.
But if you look past that, I have some serious issues with Banshee. First of all, there’s the size. Installing this on my (openbox) Arch system meant a whopping 175MB install, and that’s with gstreamer and gtk already installed. Most of that is of course the Mono dependancy. But still, Rhythmbox and Exaile take a lot less room. Even Amarok, which had to grab qt and kdelibs didn’t take so much room after the install.
Furthermore, while last.fm works just fine, many other internet radios won’t play. I like to listen to a couple that are difficult in any player (one doesn’t even want to play in mplayer), but it’s a bit embarassing for Banshee to get its butt kicked by Amarok, Rhythmbox and Totem in that regard.
Also, Banshee’s configuration is confusing, beginning with adding your files. Just putting the right directory in Preferences doesn’t do anything. “Import Media” gives you a choice of “Personal directory”, “Local directory” and “Local Files”, but selecting one of those three doesn’t seem to make a difference. It’s only until you click “Import Media source” that you notice that the two last options make a file dialog appear.
Maybe I’m an exception here, but I like my configuration to be in one, central place called Preferences. Lately there’s a trend of scattering configuration everywhere. Sometimes it works (the last.fm configuration is very logical: you click the last.fm icon, it says you don’t have an account yet, and asks for your login and password), sometimes it doesn’t (by the same logic, clicking the play button should bring up a dialog saying you don’t have a library yet).
Finally, Banshee provides a link to the wiki in the Help menu, but the website itself promptly informs you that it’s obsolete. It doesn’t inspire much confidence, and it gives the impression that Banshee was released half-ready.
All in all, it’s still not the GTK-media player I’m looking for, and it still doesn’t beat Amarok as the best media player in Linux. It’s decent enough, and offers more features than Rhythmbox, but the raving reviews are a bit puzzling to me.