The 1.4 branch of KDE’s music player Amarok is admittedly the best music player that ever existed :) Unfortunately, the Amarok developers decided that it was too good to be true and they destroyed it with version 2.0, but Clementine did the trick by forking 1.4 and evolving into an even greater music player. Clementine uses Qt though, and we don’t prefer this toolkit in our system…so what about an Amarok 1.4 “clone” that uses GTK?
Yes, there is one and it’s called Exaile! It has just released a new version yesterday that is called “the jump”. I suppose it is called like that because they jumped the version numbers from 0.3.3, straight to 3.3.0! This of course doesn’t declare anything regarding the stability or the maturity of the application, but it does declare a lot in terms of how many fixes, improvements and new features were implemented in this new version.
The changes and improvements are so many that I won’t even bother to choose the most important on this article. You can read all about them on Exaile homepage. Being a Clementine user myself, I just want to see how well Exaile can do the same things for me in 3.3.0.
First of all Exaile uses the same logic in GUI design. You have the menu on top, the source and activities tabs on the left, the playlist on the center and the play/stop buttons on the bottom. This is the familiar way…
Once Exaile has searched your hard disk for your music, it sorts your collection by artist, album, date, genre etc. The very useful files tabs works exactly the same way as Amarok 1.4 and Clementine which is good.
The rest are still pretty much to be worked…
The internet radio has only shoutcast streams by default and it actually failed to load any while testing. The “smart playlists” do offer randomizing and generate according to rating but that is all you’ll get. Also, you won’t find the magnificent Clementine’s auto-rating that makes rating and generating playlists a lot easier.
What else is there? The cover manager is pretty much the same “no reason to exist” thing but it is available in Exaile too!
What can bring the whole experience a lot higher are the plugins. You can enable things like Last.fm dynamic playlists, Jamendo music search and play, Wikipedia information about the artist playing, Beats per Minute counter, Alarm, optically different progress bars and a ton more…
Exaile is one of the applications that belong in the “should-exist” category. It is far from perfect, but very usable at the same time. Most things are there and working just fine and I am sure that soon we will have a mature and fully featured “gtk Clementine”. My only real complain here is the use of gtk2 instead of gtk3 that may brake coherence sometimes :(
Other than that, it does what I want and it does it with low resources and in a completely familiar way. Give it a try and see how it fits your needs.