Playing video and audio

Continuing difficulty thereof


See DJing.

Desktop listening

Hate iTunes? I do. It syncs to my phone, good. It integrates well into the OS. There endeth the advantages. Whilst it was cutting edge when I first started using it more than 15 years ago, iTunes has stagnated in features and forged ahead with annoyances even as is slides backwards on performance. It also tries to constantly sell me shitty pop songs and is generally an eyesore.

Moreover, it is increasingly based on streaming music from the cloud which is nice if you live in Silicon Valley and don’t DJ. Otherwise, you need options. I don’t live in Silicon Valley and fail to not DJ, so I seek other alternatives.

Alternatives? Too many, mostly mediocre Luke Baker reviews media players that work on Linux specifically, and my god there are a lot and if they pooled their efforts I bet some would be awesome. As it is…


Volumio, below, has a desktop app.


Plex a freemium audio app for pretty much every platform can also play things. I am unsire of other features.


Swinsian (USD20, macOS) is a simple music player that tries to preserve the good bits of itunes and not the rest. Consequently, it is a tiny fraction of the size of iTunes.


Tauon gets a thumbs up and has such nice feature as actually organising the music library. Other highlights include

  • Import tracks and create playlists by simple drag and drop.
  • Batch transcode folders of music.
  • scrobbling with track love support heart
  • Download cover art function.
  • Edit tags with MusicBrainz Picard (when also installed).
  • Keep track of play counts. Visualise these so you always know which tracks were your favorite.


Luke baker also likes Cantata, which is a friendly MPD frontend; you still need to install the backend.


Strawberry is cross-platform and aims to organise a library. It is an active fork from the decrepit Clementine.


Nuclear is an open-source streaming thingo:

There’s no need to use services that limit your freedom and seek to exploit you just to listen to your favourite artists. Nuclear empowers you to listen to what you want, where you want, and how you want, for free. Stream from any free source on the internet. Nuclear supports Youtube and Soundcloud out of the box, with a plugin system allowing for easy addition of more. Nuclear supports scrobbling to and updating the now- playing status.


beets, the extensible open-source media manager claims to do music playing now, via the browser

Quod libet

quod libet is a converse of beets; it’s GUI-first but has a sideline in metadata management and extensibility. It includes extensive command line support.


MPD abstracts away iTunes entirely. It is a protocol supporting distinct music playing backend servers and frontend clients. Reportedly the protocol is in a state of standards logjam but it is probably functional and has a huge mass, an unmaintainable riot really, of clients. It is intrinsically networked so you can do cute things like having a collective iphone party dj app, although that only sounds like a good idea the first time.

Beets supports it via bpd


foobar2000 is a cult windows player. Do I care about it? not enough to bother at the moment. There is a clone called qoob that runs not on inwodws.


RhythmBox, the GNOME default player, is surprisingly good. It includes plugins such as a file organizer and python extension API. I’d probably want to use beets or quod libet if I really wanted to hack my music player though.

cassette tapes

Will work after the apocalypse.

Music discovery

Slightly obsessive completist personality? Don’t worry, it afflicts many nerds. How about you channel that twitchy compulsion into something productive, analysing your music collection so that you can be a better DJ, which is the most socially acceptable type of completist obsessiveness there is?

So anyway, my preferred service in the quantifed-self race was This catalogues your music listening history and puts it online, often with cute graphs. Hey, at least letting the world know about that is less harmful than other data people collected about you without your consent Unfortunately, development has languished for years, and the client is shitty, enormous, slow, crashes a lot, and fills your syslog up with weird errors. I already have iTunes to do that. Alternatives to the client for Mac:

Increasingly this product has become irrelevant – just use Apple music or Spotify or Tidal or whatever.

More satisfactory audio on portable devices

🏗; mention Overcast app for iOS.

Media centers


Sonos, et al, for people who find wires too complicated, access to the audio to be too flexible, and a heavy wallet a great burden.


Jellyfin is a streaming media server that plugs into media centers.


Raspberry Pi-based home media system hacks, perhaps? volumio is a cheap computer-oriented player in the form of a music-focussed linux distro.

The boss of the project, Michelangelo, is a very entertaining guy and his work deserves a shout out on that basis too.

Volumio is meant to be an headless dap (digital audio player), just connect it to your home stereo system or your DAC.

Then, connect it to your home network and control it just from a browser: Pc, Mac, Android or iOS.

Volumio can take your music from USB, Network Storage, streaming services like Spotify and act as a DLNA Player or Airplay receiver.

Kodi (formerly XMBC) is the media centre at the heart of lots of rasppi media centres. But how to package it up? A million different ways all of which are tedious to compare against each other and differ in ways you’d rather not know anything about! Welcome to the 21st century.

As a rule, the JeOS distributions run their own tweaked packaging systems so you have to do more work to get unsupported software, but less work to get supported software.

  • LibreELEC is a JeOS Kodi host. (seems active)

  • OpenELEC is a JeOS Kodi host. (seems a little slow on updates)

  • OSMC is a Kodi-focussed debian. Creators also make a pre-loaded one-board-computer device, the vero4k.

  • XBian

    Just like Debian, XBian incorporates rolling releases. This means that different from other distributions such as OpenELEC or Raspbmc, XBian doesn’t release fixed images that often.

    In contrast, XBian offers new package updates at least once a week. This means that new improvements and bugfixes are delivered quickly and easily.

    Sounds lofty. Should the ghastly design of their web-page make me nervous about their UX though?