I’ve lamented since last year that KDE’s radical change in direction left me — and a lot of others — going on an app-hunt. I’m really not a fan of the new Amarok, and I’ve been as yet unsuccessful in finding something to replace my beloved Amarok 1.4, even resorting to procedures like this one to install the old version.
Such procedures make a good stopgap for the time being, but sooner or later, that old thing will simply not work anymore. Once a program falls out of development, the clock is ticking on it remaining useful, and at that point, you have to face reality and find something with which to replace it.
Fortunately, I’m not the only Amarok 1.4 lover out there. It’s been forked, and the new version is called Clementine.
I’m running Peppermint OS for the purposes of this evaluation, but this should work on any Ubuntu or Ubuntu 10.04 derived system. Plus, as you can see on the Clementine downloads page, Fedora, Mac OSX and even Windows are represented.
Source code is also available, for those who like to roll their own.
As a small disclaimer, I’ve only tried the 32-bit Ubuntu 10.04 .deb installer, so your mileage may vary on any of the others.
In that particular case, I downloaded the file, double clicked on it, and let it install. That was it. I didn’t have to do anything special, just point and click.
Those familiar with Amarok 1.4 will find that Clementine configures about the same way as the older project. I pointed it at my music directory, let it scan for files, and it automatically organized my music library in the way to which I am accustomed. It didn’t have any trouble recognizing any of my music, which was a relief, because everything else I’ve tried lately seems to stumble over even the basics.
Under the “Tools” menu there is a “Preferences” option, and in there you’ll find lots of options for how the player behaves, where to look for music files, how to manage the on screen display functionality, and how to talk to Last.fm if you have an account there.
Again, if you’re familiar with Amarok 1.4, you’ll find this pretty familiar, if a bit spartan by comparison. They’ve got the “main stuff” covered here, and it’s pretty straightforward.
I noticed immediately that Clementine, while it is clearly descended from Amarok 1.4, is still a “work in progress” as far as features go. That said, I’m not disappointed. When I said before that “they’ve got the main stuff covered”, I meant it. It handles playlist creation, the music library, and playing music quite well. Even the cover manager works… arguably better than the one in Amarok 1.4 ever did, for me anyway.
Tag editing works the same way it did in Amarok 1.4, and you can change how your library is grouped (by artist and album, by genre, by artist alone, et al).
I noticed that it’s pretty resource friendly; even shuffling a 4,581 item playlist, Clementine only uses around 80-90 MB of system memory, and it didn’t hit my CPU very hard at all while playing.
Clementine is arranged the way I like music players, with most of the focus being on the queue and with a sane method of organizing the library. The only other player that is laid out in this way that I’ve seen is Exaile, and I’ve had a number of issues with Exaile that prevent me from using it full time — problems with it recognizing metadata consistently, stability problems, and excessive resource usage, to name a few.
In short, if you liked how Amarok 1.4 works, Clementine is a great way to recapture that, at least as a start. It’s very stable so far for me — not one crash in over 12 pretty solid hours of use — and user friendly.
While some features from Amarok 1.4 haven’t been implemented yet (theming, the “context” tab, etc.) you have to keep in mind that Clementine is only at version 0.4 and is still under heavy development.
Still, I found myself impressed that there was a “stable” release of it that was this functional and usable. It’s become my primary music player, and being as picky as I am about such things, that says a lot. I find it more stable and far more usable in its “under development” state than any other music player I’ve tried, and I’ve tried most of the main ones.
So despite its rather spartan condition at the moment, Clementine is showing a lot of promise. This is definitely the real deal, and I’m very glad that the Clementine team picked up the torch and ran with it. They’ve filled a much-needed gap in the music player arena in my opinion, and I’m really excited to see them continue development on this.
A few things I’d like to see implemented include some of the more helpful items that were in Amarok 1.4 such as being able to add a “play count” column in the queue display list, and some of the playlist builder functions (“random 50″ and “random 100″ were two that I used a lot in Amarok 1.4).
That said, I’m extremely happy with what it can do as it currently stands, and those wants are pretty minor compared to what they’ve already done with it. I’m really kind of amazed that there isn’t much buzz surrounding this great application. So here’s to hoping that this quiet little project gets the attention it deserves!