I’ve mentioned a couple of times that, at least in my opinion, KDE is losing out to GNOME because there simply aren’t as many Qt applications as GTK ones. Competition breeds quality, and as a result, I find Qt applications in general to be inferior.
Of course, I can’t just say that and not back it up. In fact, I’m not even sure if I’m right! Because I’m using KDE 4.2 at the moment, I thought this would be an ideal time to really test some Qt and GTK applications extensively. In all cases, I tried to use Qt applications first, and only installed the GTK alternative if it either showed bugs, crashed, or simply irritated me to the point of madness after several days.
This is the fourth in a series of articles comparing different kind of applications. The first ones handled chat-clients, browsers, and media players. This one be about music managers, or “Itunes clones” if you will. Fair warning: I find this the area where the range of Qt applications is most lacking.
Consider the plethora of applications available to you when you look at GTK applications. If you’re not satisfied with the default Rhythmbox (and I am), there’s Banshee, Exaile, Listen, Quod Libet, gmusicbrowser, Consonance, and even new projects like Guayedeque look very interesting. Of course, if you like MPD, there are even more possibilities. On the Qt side there’s…Juk (which is KDE’s standard and has a KDE4 version, but you wouldn’t know it from the website) and Amarok. That’s it, and they both suck.
Juk fails for me because although it has what I consider to be the right layout for a manager, it’s very slow on large collections (mine’s 5000+), especially on startup. It’s als very thin on features, and it has been for quite some time. It’s fairly obvious that Juk is no longer developed much. Also, it crashed a couple of times for me.
Amarok however, is very much in active development and although I admire the passion that obviously goes into it, to me the layout of the latest version is an incredible mess. I thought the 1.4 version had a rather busy layout, but version 2 takes “form over function” to the next level with the monstrosity called “Context View”. Context View offers extra information about the song you’re playing, like the rating, album cover, album information, lyrics, the wikipedia entry, and basically any widget you want to add there. The problem for me is that this “extra” information is being placed smack dab in the middle of the screen where I absolutely don’t want it. It’s a music manager, so the focus of the manager should be the music itself. The library is crammed on the left, the playlist on the right, and the extras in the middle where it looks fantastic whilst being absolutely useless. Amarok also seems designed to demand as many clicks as possible to get to a song, add it to the playlist, and then play it. Actually it’s even worse than that ,because for me, double clicking a song in the library does absolutely nothing. You have to press enter to add it to the play list, or drag it over that stupidly wide Context View to that ludricously small playlist area. Sane behaviour to me is this: double-click a song to play it, right-click to choose to add it to the playlist. Obviously, the Amarok devs don’t agree with me.
Which is their right of course. In fact, Amarok has many fans, and more power to them. To me, it’s one of the most frustrating pieces of software I ever encountered, hiding useful features like dynamic playlists and such in tabs on the left, and displaying that gaudy Context…okay, I’ll stop. I made myself clear. Not a fan.
In the last weeks I installed almost every music manager I listed, and none of them felt right in KDE. Rhythmbox is my favourite, but pulls in a lot of GNOME, and if you want to burn your playlists, you’ll need Brasero too. I even installed foobar2000 under wine but that felt unnatural… . People who are interested can always check out the Qt MPD clients, but installing them is no walk in the park. Some of them aren’t even in the Arch AUR, and I thought that had every piece of software known to mankind 🙂
Basically, I have to conclude that for me, a decent Itunes-for-KDE doesn’t exist. Shame.
Edit: The default Amarok version in Arch was a very late beta of 2.1, without much difference to the final version. My double click problems seem to have been unique to my system.
Goggles MM is not a GTK Music Manager, so I removed it. Thanks to the anonymous poster who pointed that out in the comments.