AmaroK v1.4 beta -Review

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I am an avid music enthusiast, as such I probably have over 5000 titles in my collection. Lately, I've been on a digitizing binge. Actually, I'm afraid that my cherished mixed-tapes will eventually become corrupted due to old age and the rigors of humidity. Previously, I used XMMS, and found it to be very capable of music playback. In fact, with the appropriate plug-ins, it can play any media file you throw at it. It even has plug-in extentions for mplayer, so you can view windows media files, mpeg4, .mov, xvid, DiVX, and AAC/MP4.

However, as my volumes grew large, I began to loathe the XMMS user interface. It actually became very difficult to easily sort and categorize my selections. I'd read about AmaroK while perusing Linux Journal article. After reading this article, I knew that I had to try it out. My first experience was with AmaroK 1.3 was mixed. I grabbed the package using 'slapt-get' and it installed without any problem. The only issue I had was the amount of time it took to re-catalogue the selections on the NFS fileshare. I have archived most of my music and multimedia on my fileserver, which exports these titles over an NFS volume. I never actually timed the process, but I knew it was too long for my taste. I surmised the issue was due to the database backend. By default, amaroK uses sqllite, or in my case 'ksqllite', which had some horrible threading issues.. So, I figured that I'd grab the latest build (amaroK 1.4beta) and compile it from source, selecting mySQL as the default database backend.

After compiling it with mySQL, I immediately noticed a significant improvement. Hmm. I thought that this was too fast. I then noticed that there was a persistent error regarding /var/run/mysql and it appeared that the amaroK database couldn't be indexed the mysqld. So I had to make sure the daemon was running and then grant ALL priviledges to amaroK. I fought with this a few times and also read the amaroK wiki, but couldn't resolve the permissions problem.
So, I decided to fire up BitchX and hit the IRC, after chatting with one person, we went through the logs and ascertained that it was not a AmaroK issue. I figured this from the beginning, but I wanted to confirm my suspicions. Suddenly I had an epiphany, why not check to see if the passwd that I created was actually being used by AmaroK :)

Well, as it turned out the silly passwd was incorrect. After resolving that issue, the database was indexed without any problem all of my volumes were categorized. Perhaps the coolest features of this software is the API hooks for Amazon for album art, lyrics, and artist information. Pretty slick to read about Brand Nubian as the title is playing.

Regarding mashups, there is also another cool Web2.0 feature; whereas, if you've got a account you can share your listening tastes/habits with a community of music enthusiasts. So, I setup my account and within minutes amaroK was displaying my often played titles in real-time. There isn't any P2P activity taking place on, only the community by association. If you feel so inclined to purchase a song title, they do make allowances via Amazon.

There are also provisions for handling metadata for podcasts and .mp3 files. AmaroK also uses Xine engine for handling proprietary codecs (ie Realplayer, etc). So you'll need to make sure that these codecs exists on your system and that amaroK can easily find them. If you have a working Xine installation, all should be well.

Bottom line: AmaroK is primetime Open Source audio player. After reviewing the project roadmap, there do not appear to be plans of porting it to windows ;)

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    This page contains a single entry by AG published on April 24, 2006 2:22 AM.

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