Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Songbird is becoming one kick ass media player (some installation tips)

I've been keeping a close watch on the development of Songbird, a fantastically innovative cross-platform audio player in the spirit of itunes (though it looks like it might exceed itunes in the near future). Recently version 1.0 was released, and so I thought I'd briefly review it here, as well as provide some nifty little tips that make the experience all the more enjoyable (especially for Ubuntu users).

First thing, songbird is not yet in the Ubuntu repositories (hopefully this will change for the Jaunty release) - so there are two main ways to install it:
  1. Download the tarball package, extract it where you want, and symlink to it in your .bashrc (this is they way I did it).
  2. Download the Songbird deb package from getdeb: here.
Once installed, there are a couple of addons that I add immediately:
  • LyricMaster - Fetch lyrics and save them back to the file
  • MediaFlow - Like itunes album art preview. Normally, though, I have this disabled because mashtape is much more functional.
  • Music Recommendations - Pulls up Last.fm recommendations
  • YABS - One KICK ASS skin!! I sort of wish it was the default look of songbird (it makes it look a lot less like an itunes clone).
Here is a screenshot when YABS is enabled:

Pretty freakin sweet if you ask me!

Next I enable Flash and Java for Songbird. Here is how on Ubuntu Intrepid (assuming you already have both installed on your system):
  • For Java: ln -s /usr/lib/jvm/java-6-sun- ~/Songbird/plugins/libjavaplugin_oji.so
  • For Flash: ln -s /usr/lib/flashplugin-nonfree/libflashplayer.so ~/Songbird/plugins/libflashplayer.so
There, that should do it. Enjoy!!

There are still a number of features coming down the in the next release (due out Feburary!) that I'm really looking forward to (check out the roadmap):
  • Watch folder - so it can automatically keep track of changes in your library (this is my most desired feature)
  • Automatically fetch album art
I'm also looking forward to future inclusions of:
  • The ability to rip and burn cds
  • Support for video playback
  • Support for native look and feel
  • Improved dynamic/smart playlists

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