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Re: Audio Player Failure

David Bremner wrote:

An emerging theme is that m4a on Linux is pain.

May I gently suggest--judging by your narrative and the laughably over-engineered, un-usable comment system you have deployed on your blog--that the problem is with the user, not Linux. How can you make such a general statement about the state of Linux audio when you didn't consider a single modern music player other than the one that was just re-written?

Perhaps you had a requirement that you try all of the most obscure audio players you could come up with. But, if so, you should likely mention that in your narrative--you didn't. And if if that was the reason for the list that you tried, that hardly reflects the state of the work of people whom, you know, actually care about having modern desktops than can, say, compare to a Mac. Here are a few such projects which are quite modern, comparable to a music player you might find on a Mac, and handle m4a just fine, thank you: Banshee, Rhythmbox and VLC.

Don't go off in to the wilderness and then complain about the lack of good public sanitation.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 30th, 2009 03:11 am (UTC)
Very much agree with your there. I often buy music via iTunes and play music via rhythmbox (and as such the gstreamer backend)

It never even occurred to me that that could be a problem, it just works.

Linux or more specifically the media playback for linux has come a long way. No longer do we have to mess around with w32codec packs and mplayer or xine, we now have free and user friendly media frameworks that will even ask you to download&install something if your missing a codec.
Aug. 30th, 2009 09:37 am (UTC)
Hear hear
I've not had a problem playing m4a files under Linux for a good few years now. David mentioned there were 'configuration issues' preventing Quod Libet from playing m4a files. I can't think of what they were, because Quod Libet plays them fine for me 'out of the box'.

The past two year's work with Gstreamer has greatly improved audio on Linux to the point where I don't have to even think about messing around with codecs anymore. I'm grateful to all those who have worked on the various Linux audio implementations and players, because they've done a great job.
Aug. 30th, 2009 10:48 am (UTC)
Actually, he's pretty much right...
And I say that being a FLOSS Multimedia developer myself.

Banshee doesn't really support M4A. It supports M4A/AAC, but fails badly with M4A/ALAC. Rhythmbox comes out better, but last time I tried it was nasty with random mode. VLC plays fine but it's not really what I'd consider an audio player.

And tagging isn't much better to be honest. Let's be clear: MP4/M4A/M4V/ISO Media/How you feel like calling it today works mostly because the _backends_ support it (GStreamer, FFmpeg, xine, VLC — okay not really a backend yet but you get the gist), and those are all _multimedia_ players, not audio players.

Speaking of pure audio players, in my tests Rhythmbox is definitely the one that comes out on top, but still fails to properly suggest the user when it fails playing M4A/ALAC; Banshee fails because it assumes M4A == AAC and that's not always the case. Most of the other audio players with the exception of mpd, when I tried them, failed badly with M4A/ALAC because they implement _their own_ support for the format and fail to consider some “corner cases” that are actually pretty common…

See also another post of mine: http://blog.flameeyes.eu/2009/07/13/not-happy-about-audio-players
Aug. 30th, 2009 12:07 pm (UTC)
Muine plays m4a/aac fine. Guess thats the advantage of using GStreamer. That said, there was a huge bug in FAAD which meant it couldn't get the cover art out of a file because of treating all metadata content like NULL terminated strings.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )


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