Qt vs. GTK: Juk and Amarok

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, Consonanceand 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.


15 Responses to Qt vs. GTK: Juk and Amarok

  1. Jon says:

    It is really hard to tell what is more stupid you or your posts.

    • NG says:

      Got something more intelligent to say? Nothing stupid about it. You don’t like the authors opinion? The web must really frustrate you.

  2. lefty.crupps says:

    right-click music > add to playlist
    that adds it to the bottom; if nothing is currently playing, it will start with what you just added.

    Double-click doesn’t work to add? too strange.

    I agree, the new Amarok is much too cluttered, but if you drag the playlist’s edge towards the middle you can shrink most of the Context view stuff.

    Juk is just too simple and not good with large collections. Even Amarok 2.x takes about 20m to scan my music collection for changes, while the 1.4.x series found changes in about 1min. I’ve talked on IRC with the developers and they said that they kept the fast-updating version, so I don’t know what I am missing but its still slow for new music to get added to my collection.

  3. Sigh... says:

    Since you are obviously coming from ubuntu… atleast try to do some research before posting :/

    You are starting to look more and more like a troll.
    (the topic which is misleading, comparing old stable programs against new betaish progs, lack of research…)

    btw goggles ain’t gtk app, neither is firefox atleast try to look at opendesktop.org once in a while…

  4. Mesanna says:

    Agree with your comments about the centre panel in Amarok, it doesn’t feel like a good design to me either. I don’t have the double click problem that you have though. Double clicking for me either starts playing it immediately, or adds it to the playlist if something is already playing.

  5. celettu says:


    Thank you, if I didn’t get comments like that every once in a while I’d think I could do nothing wrong 😉 Love your e-mail address!

    lefty, Mesanna:

    I agree, this double click behaviour was so strange there probably was something wrong with my install. The default amarok in Arch was the beta of 2.1 by the way. I probably should have added that.


    Pot, meet kettle. I’m using Arch, not Ubuntu. My problems with Amarok have nothing to do with “betaishness”…and Amarok ISN’T beta.
    The whole “Firefox not being a GTK app”…I heard the argument before, and it’s rubbish. Even if it’s in a roundabout way, it looks and feels like a GTK app.
    And Goggles…well, I’ll give you that one. FOX, not GTK. My bad.

  6. […] Qt vs. GTK: Juk and Amarok 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. […]

  7. GregE says:

    For utter simplicity try Decibel. No database to load just a file window on one side and a playlist on the other and very few system resources when playing. I use it on my Netbook for playing music through my car sound system. Another is MiniRok.

    Another good player is aTunes, a Java based player. I have currently 10,155 songs and it loads in moments and refreshes very quickly. More like the old Amarok with a lyrics pane on the far right. Double clicking is a bit difficult, but right click add to playlist always works. Still in developement but my current favorite.

    I do not like Rhythmbox, playlists are just too fiddly.It all comes down to individual tastes and habits.

    Lastly I would not call them iTunes clones. iTunes was not the first computer music player and is itself just a clone of those who went before.

  8. celettu says:


    Thanks for the comments :)I hadn’t heard of Decibel and MiniRok, but I’ll check them out. aTunes and Songbird I had tried and discarded, but at the moment I can’t recall why.

    I guess I like Rhythmbox because I don’t use playlists much.

    And the name iTunes clones was just used because I didn’t want to type “music managers” all the time 😉

  9. LinuxCanuck says:

    Banshee is not pure GTK but uses Mono which IMO no open source supporter should use or recommend. To say it is GTK is misleading at best and to give it any mention at all indicates a lack of respect for FOSS. Mono’s license is now in dispute with Microsoft contending that its licensing agreement applies only to Novell and not other distros. This is far from settled. As such FOSS needs to steer clear of it.

    GTK looks old and dated and all of its apps do as well. It is ready for an overhaul. QT4 apps look so much better and while they are still in transition most are far and away better looking and performing than their GTK countreparts. Give me Amarok over Rhythmbox, Kopete over Empathy, K3b over Brasero and Choqok over Gwibber any day. FF is neither GTK not QT. It is based on Gecko which is writeen in C++.

    As with all of these things it is highly subjective. Different strokes for different folks.

  10. celettu says:


    Can’t say I agree.

    Banshee is not pure GTK but uses Mono which IMO no open source supporter should use or recommend. To say it is GTK is misleading at best and to give it any mention at all indicates a lack of respect for FOSS.

    It uses the GTK-toolkit -> it’s GTK. What language it’s written in is irrelevant to me and this article.

    Mono (according to Wikipedia) = “Mono is a project led by Novell (formerly by Ximian) to create an Ecma standard compliant, .NET-compatible set of tools,”

    GTK (again, Wikipedia) = “a cross-platform widget toolkit for creating graphical user interfaces.”

    To say Banshee uses the GTK toolkit isn’t disrespectful to anything, it’s simply the truth.

    The same argument goes for Firefox. It doesn’t matter what language it’s written in, or how exactly it uses the GTK toolkit (via xulrunner), the fact is that it does, plain and simple.

    GTK looks old and dated and all of its apps do as well. It is ready for an overhaul.

    Considering the number of different themes and icons that are available for GTK, this seems like an odd statement. If GTK can be made to look exactly like Oxygen, it can hardly be old and dated. The default GNOME icon set does, I will admit, but that’s easily changed.
    In any case, these articles were never about looks.

    Considering your preference for the Qt apps…I won’t start an argument there 😉 Matter of taste.

  11. […] keep on writing forever: I’ve only covered chat clients, browsers, multimedia players and music managers. What about mail programs, torrent clients, pdf readers, graphics editors, image organisers…I […]

  12. Mark says:

    Double click works for me. And context view can be hidden.

  13. lipa says:

    i have exactly the same problem with double-click. i see it in audacious and in applications under wine. if someone has an idea how to debug this problem, please post it

  14. Kirby says:

    I know this is over a year old but have you tried Clementine on KDE?

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