After Hours

Listen to music with open source Banshee

Vincent Danen reviews the Banshee media player for Linux, which has the capability of playing shared iTunes music, and it can be used to create "smart" playlists.

Perhaps one of the most popular media players for Linux currently is Amarok, a KDE-based music player. While Amarok is certainly good, for GNOME users who prefer something that looks more native, Banshee is a great alternative. Banshee is a media player that plays music, videos, podcasts, and streaming radio. It even has the capability of playing shared iTunes music, although only for shared libraries from an iTunes 6 or earlier client.

The interface for Banshee is reminiscent of iTunes itself and can even synchronize music to earlier iPod devices (although not the iPod Touch or iPhone) and some other portable media players. It can import audio CDs, converting them to the Ogg Vorbis or FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) formats. Other formats are also supported; because Banshee uses Gstreamer to handle audio formats, ensure you have the appropriate Gstreamer plugin/codec installed to handle other music formats (such as mp3, wma, etc.).

Like iTunes, Banshee also supports the concept of "smart playlists." These are auto-generated playlists that are defined by a set of rules. The criteria for these playlists can be quite specific: you can set criteria based on play count, album, artist, song duration, genre, skip count, and so forth.

Banshee also supports making use of multimedia keys available on laptops and multimedia keyboards. This worked flawlessly and without any required configuration on my HP laptop.

All in all, Banshee is a very comprehensive media player. Considering the number of formats of music it can support, and the number of sources (local files, videos, Internet radio, etc.), it is a plenty capable media player.

Some sources cite the ability to share music from Banshee to other DAAP-capable clients, such as iTunes, Amarok, or RhythmBox, but I was unable to get Banshee to share anything with the packages provided with the upcoming Mandriva 2009.0. It is possible that a plugin wasn't built for Mandriva, so this capability may actually exist, but according to the Banshee Web site this should be a built-in feature. Perhaps it will return in a future version. Despite this limitation, Banshee makes a great music player.

Have you tried Banshee? How do you think it compares to other players?

About

Vincent Danen works on the Red Hat Security Response Team and lives in Canada. He has been writing about and developing on Linux for over 10 years and is a veteran Mac user.

15 comments
wuboyblue
wuboyblue

You are a serious Linux desktop user...and here I took a break to have some gaming on W7 (Home Premium). Try apt-get install banshee, you will get all your dependencies and plugins. Personally, I don't buy iTunes, I go with Amazon and the MP3 format.

ScienceMikey
ScienceMikey

There is one deal-breaker for me with Banshee (and Gnome in general): the use of Mono as a code base for it. Mono, after all, is a Microsoft-encumbered .Net-lite-based trap for the unwary, abetted by Novell.

jlwallen
jlwallen

using Banshee with a 5th gen ipod video completely fubar'd every music file (about 4,000 files) by inserting binary into one of the fields of the tags. So instead of song titles many of my files are now listed in binary.

The Management consultant
The Management consultant

As a newbie to Gnome unless they have a one click install binary it won't make it onto many peoples systems.love Songbird 7 but again make a one click binary install and it will succeed !!

The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

You say: Vincent Danen reviews the Banshee media player for Linux, which has the capability of playing shared iTunes music. But then say you never got it to even work with iTunes then made up answer to why you think this is the case! OK, so it is incorrect - life goes on, get over it.

Jaqui
Jaqui

Mono is a Visual Basic clone. the .net support is a separate project. but both are meant for those to stupid to use real tools. :D

vdanen
vdanen

Oh man, that sucks. Never tried Banshee with an iPod tho, but definitely a good warning for folks.

Alganon
Alganon

Mandriva 2008.1 On a command line as root # urpmi banshee it needed 13 other dependent packages, and asked if I wanted to proceed. I typed y and hit enter. Job done Banshee is in the menu structure, and works well under KDE as well.

vdanen
vdanen

No, what I said was: "It even has the capability of playing shared iTunes music, although only for shared libraries from an iTunes 6 or earlier client.". Of course, that didn't work for me because I have iTunes 8 installed on my mac. I also said: "Some sources cite the ability to share music from Banshee to other DAAP-capable clients, such as iTunes, Amarok, or RhythmBox, but I was unable to get Banshee to share anything" which is the inverse of being able to play music *from* iTunes (i.e. get iTunes to play music *from* Banshee). Perhaps you needed to re-read the article before making silly comments.

pDaleC
pDaleC

He said he could read iTunes from Banshee. He said he could not read Banshee from iTunes.

orgjvr
orgjvr

Please read up on mono. It is the exact opposite of what you said! Mono is an implementation of the .net framework on linux.

The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

Quote "The interface for Banshee is reminiscent of iTunes itself and can even synchronize music to earlier iPod devices (although not the iPod Touch or iPhone) and some other portable media players." Next time you should perhaps test a product with its associated devices before telling others about using it? That or at least list what earlier iPod devices means! Poor guy lost 4000 tracks!

vdanen
vdanen

A little difficult to test when you don't have the hardware to test with, right? Anyways, considering this is a noted feature of Banshee, it's probably ok to note it as their web site does anyways. It's not like I'm making this stuff up. =) And, to put a more technical point on it... I said it was designed to do it (and did describe the limitations as per their documentation), but I didn't actually recommend doing it. I can only test what I can actually test. I tested the software, but forgive me for not running out to buy an ipod in order to test one piece of the tip (or, perhaps you're thinking I should have run out and bought one of every mp3 player so that I could *really* test the software?). That's fine for developers, but I'm not willing to make that kind of investment, sorry. =)

jlwallen
jlwallen

the tracks are still there. they still play. just many of them are no longer listed properly. but, with the help of amarok, i can go in and edit the tags. yeah..one...at...a...time. ;-)

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