From Gtk to Qt: Amarok, Knetworkmanager, and Kopete

I’ve blogged before how I think Gtk applications are superior to their Qt counterparts, but since I’m using KDE pretty much exclusively since October last year, I’m always on the lookout for good Qt apps.

The main application I keep returning to is Amarok because, and let’s be honest here, there’s not alternative in Qt. I keep on installing it, and I keep rejecting it, and then a few months later I install it again. The last couple of times I noticed an improvement: instead of a buggy, slow, unintuitive mess it’s now quite stable, fast and…well, it’s still unintuitive. But at least it works now.
Another thing I mentioned before is how much I detest the default layout. Let’s have a look at the screenshot of version 2.2.2, straight from the Amarok homepage.

Amarok: Default layout

Amarok: Default layout

The main focus here is the information pane, which is just wrong. It’s a music player. It plays music, ergo the focus should be on the music you’re playing. Right now there’s so much information showing in that screenshot it doesn’t even have enough room to show it all. Are you constantly scrolling up and down when you’re listening to music? I know I’m not. I’m doing other things, and the music’s in the background.
Fortunately, the layout is now very customisable, which means you can choose something more sane (and doesn’t show album covers everywhere). Case in point:

Amarok: My layout

Amarok: My layout

I’ll be the first to admit that looks a lot more boring. It also shows a lot more music, and I find that this layout works for me, so I’m keeping it. Behind all that form-over-function and visual hoopla, there’s actually a very decent music player. I keep on discovering more and more features I really like. It seems like my long, long search for a decent Qt media player is finally over.

Another Gtk application I’ve replaced is wicd, the lightweight network manager. I didn’t replace it because I didn’t like it (I still run it on my netbook), but because I kept ending up without any network connection at boot. A reboot would solve the problem, but understandably it drove me absolutely crazy. I even suspected hardware failure, but a quick install of Sidux on a seperate partition showed no problems at all. At long last, I replaced wicd with Knetworkmanager. It’s a KDE front-end for Networkmanager (duh), developed by SuSe, and it has the good sense of putting itself in the systray where it belongs, instead of the plasmoid with the same function.
To my utter amazement, there’s no package available for Arch, not even in the AUR. Installing the Chakra package will complain about some missing dependencies, but it works anyway, so that’s what I’m using now. The network problems haven’t returned.

One app I didn’t replace is Pidgin. Kopete works fine for me now (it used to complain that my password for MSN was wrong when it wasn’t), but it doesn’t have a couple of features I want. One I can forgive is that it doesn’t allow you to save and use other people’s moving smileys. However, I want to be able to cycle between chat-tabs using ctrl-tab, something I couldn’t even find in the Kopete shortcuts. That means that at the moment, I’m staying with Pidgin.

San

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11 Responses to From Gtk to Qt: Amarok, Knetworkmanager, and Kopete

  1. lefty.crupps says:

    I may be wrong, but I don’t think an app written with KDE libraries is considered a Qt app; its a KDE app. Qt libraries are used in Qt apps, such as QDVDAuthor.

  2. lefty.crupps says:

    your comments area stole my written tab changings. see that link tho.

  3. Batista says:

    You could use kmess as an alternative to kopete (qt4), it’s lighter and (if I remember correctly) you can ctrl-tab through tabs.
    I keep using emesene though 🙂

  4. GregE says:

    I have always used Amarok, even under Gnome.

    1. The layout of a library pane and a playlist pane is just the most intuitive way of playing music. Rhythmbox, Songbird, Banshee, iTunes and the rest add extra steps in playlist creation. Decibel, Minirok and Exaile copy Amarok’s layout.

    2. I have a Creative Zen 32gb music player. Plug it in when Amarok is open and it appears as a new entry in the library pane, and you can copy music back and forth. Amarok is way better than the Windows software supplied by Creative. This also works for most music players including Apple (except Touch and iPhone – but even they are just a matter of time).

    Other KDE apps that dominate

    K3b – disk burning
    Kdenlive – Video editing (and Kino for capture)
    Kaffeine – Multimedia, including Digital TV viewing/recording

    The one thing I miss from Gnome is being able to run the mouse over a music file in Nautilus and have it play. Very handy when looking through a long list of songs for something you cannot remember the name of.

  5. KenP says:

    @GregE: Dolphin is able to preview Music files. In the information panel it shows a play/stop button when you mouse-over or select a file in Dolphin. However, I am not sure if you need to install mplayerthumbs or some such package to get it working.

  6. GregE says:

    @KenP

    Thanks, yes Dolphin can do that, but it still loads another program to play the file, and then cedes control to the third party app. One advantage of this is that you can play and browse at the same time. The Nautilus approach is simple, mouse over and it plays, mouse off it stops.

    You can run Nautilus under KDE and still have this functionality.

  7. […] From Gtk to Qt: Amarok, Knetworkmanager, and Kopete One app I didn’t replace is Pidgin. Kopete works fine for me now (it used to complain that my password for MSN was wrong when it wasn’t), but it doesn’t have a couple of features I want. One I can forgive is that it doesn’t allow you to save and use other people’s moving smileys. However, I want to be able to cycle between chat-tabs using ctrl-tab, something I couldn’t even find in the Kopete shortcuts. That means that at the moment, I’m staying with Pidgin. […]

  8. Maureen Hoop says:

    Thanks for posting, I very much enjoyed your newest post. I think you should post more often, you obviously have talent for blogging!

  9. shamil says:

    @GregE

    Exaile is meant to 100% replicate amarok under gtk. It’s the project goal and one of the main reasons it exists. The project diverged a little bit from this. But, other than that, exaile is so similar, that under gnome you might as well use exaile unless it doesn’t have that one feature you absolutely can’t live without in amarok.

  10. GregE says:

    @shamil

    Exaile is still no Amarok, but I agree it gets better and better. Personally I have been a KDE user for the last six months after ten years of Gnome and I will continue to use Amarok.

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