Recently I’ve been asked to convert a few Windows Machines to Ubuntu after some spectacular failures in the MS operating system. The main problem with converting people to Ubuntu or any flavour of Linux is iTunes! Apple and Linux are both trying to take on Windows in the market and as Windows is the biggest user base for desktop users iTunes is often used as a way to give Windows users their first *Mac Experience*, hoping that more and more people will convert to their platform. This approach seems to be working as Apple grows in the desktop usage charts. Linux on the other hand is a very small market and its users, so far, have shown no interest in switching their distro to OSX. So this is why Apple haven’t spent lots of money and released a Linux version of iTunes. However we still love our music, and one of the best players (IMHO) on the market is still the iPod. Because open source users are a resourceful bunch it wasn’t long before they started work on a integrated media player and portable music device manager. Enter the Banshee!
On Ubuntu install is very easy, by either using synaptic or the command line:
sudo apt-get install banshee
It really is that simple to get started.
Banshee will either let you import CD’s, current mp3′/ogg’s etc on your hard drive or there is a VERY VERY handy feature. On plugging in your iPod your presented with a screen that may or may not report that banshee can not read your library. This is to do with the fact apple keep changing their library format which tells your about all the details of the song your playing. However all is not lost, by clicking convert my library you’ll instantly be granted access to all your songs and can just drag and drop them into your local library!
The version of Banshee I installed on Ubuntu shipped with the album art plugin. Automatically on importing tunes to your library banshee will go and find artwork for your tunes.
Banshee doesn’t offer a built in music store like iTunes does so purchasing music has to be done via separate programs. There are several alternatives on offer now and many download the music straight into your Music directory. All you have to do then is tell Banshee to import the music and your ready to go. I would however recommend using a DRM Free music service such as amazon MP3.
Video and Podcasts
Yes you can even subscribe to podcasts via banshee however you’ll need to find the url of the podcast via firefox and paste the details into banshee which doesn’t have a iTunes style store for such things. Banshee will also play a hole plethora of video formats so you could even use it to manage your video library.
I’m a big banshee fan however I’d love to see work for more devices being ploughed into the project. Whilst iPods and creative xen’s etc etc etc we are still missing some support for newer iPod’s like the touchs. Hopefully the power of open source will come up with a solution soon. Using banshee beats the pants off running iTunes in wine performance wise and to me this far out ways any losses you may loose in functionality. It you really want to go the whole hog with open source and your music collection check out the rockbox project which is an open source firmware for your portable music player.