Now and Then - Music Players

Now and Then: The Journey of 5 Open Source Linux Music Players

It’s fun to experiment with new software that isn’t anywhere near the polished article. But there’s associated risks, even with open source software. You’ll invest time and effort in learning new software. That software might never even see a stable release, it might be a big time sink even getting it up-and-running on your system. The upside is that promising software might turn overnight into a huge success, or it might be a slow burn success. And while there’s a huge array of open source successes, there’s been awful open source failures along the way. It can be a bumpy ride!

Back in 2016, we carried a feature looking at 5 music software that were highly promising. The five music programs are qomp, Lollypop, Yarock, Pragha, and Volumio.

How did these 5 music players fare over the last 4 years? Did they see a stable release, were they able to capture any market share at all, or are they only remembered like fingerprints on an abandoned handrail?

qomp

qomp
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When we covered qomp, the software hadn’t quite reached a version 1.0 release. Generally, a 1.0 release indicates a project has reached a certain level of maturity, although version numbers can be meaningless. The 1.0 release came forward in July 2016 although it was a very modest improvement adding shuffle support, an update to use a more recent version of Qt, and a couple of other minor improvements.

qomp is still under development although the last public release was in November 2018. Development has been slow, it offers a very limited selection for online music, and  hasn’t kept pace with rivals in other areas. The interface looks basic and rather dated. The project hasn’t lived up to its promise, but if all you need is a simple player you might be happy.

qomp didn’t manage to squeeze itself into our Best Music Players feature. To be brutally honest, it wasn’t even close to inclusion.


Lollypop

Lollypop
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Lollypop is a lightweight modern music player designed to work with the GNOME desktop environment. Lollypop features a party mode which will automatically select party-related playlists to play; a full-screen view which lets you visually access the player from your couch thanks to its HiDPI support; and native support for replay gain.

Best Free and Open Source Music Players
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Back in 2016, We were impressed by its stylish appearance.

Since 2016, the project has made good progress and built on its strong foundation. The project has added useful functionality such as an album view, sidebar, smart playlists. Its modern responsive design has further enhanced its slickness.

Its version 1.0 was released in 2019. Since then, development has included a suggestion view, an enhanced full screen mode, MTP sync mode which lets you sync the program with your Android device, and lots of speed improvements and bug fixes.

It’s disappointing that radio support was removed. But overall Lollypop is pretty good, and deserved its spot in our music players roundup (see the ratings chart to the left).


Yarock

Yarock
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We really admired Yarock in 2016, and things haven’t changed in that regard. Yarock came third in our Music Players roundup.

Yarock lags behind Tauon Music Box, our favorite music player. The latter has benefited from regular updates with significant improvements in certain areas, whereas Yarock’s last public release was in March 2019. And since December 2017, progress has been limited to bug fixes.

Nevertheless, Yarock remains quality open source software. It doesn’t have the aesthetic qualities of some music players. But it packs a powerful punch in so many ways — an excellent music players that gets our strong recommendation.


Pragha

Pragha Music Player
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Back in 2016, Lollypop looked more promising than Pragha. But in the past 4 years, Pragha has seen solid development, and is superior in many respects.

Pragha has always been more about substance than style. But its interface isn’t shabby.

Pragha ranked 15th in our Best Music Players roundup. What really holds it back (compared to its peers) is that gapless playback has never been successfully implemented. The developer tried to implement it in 2012 but wasn’t happy with problems it presented. While the functionality wasn’t added by 2016, we hoped the position would change, given that many other open source players offered this feature. But to date gapless playback isn’t available with Pragha. And given development of the project has slowed over the past year, it doesn’t seem likely to appear any time soon.


Volumio

Volumio is a different kettle of fish. It’s not a standalone music player, but a Debian-based distribution originally made for the Raspberry Pi single-board computer but extended to other single-board computers, as well as regular x86 PCs. The project seeks to fully integrate Music Player Daemon, an open-source music player server, into the current Debian releases and to optimize it for audiophile-quality music playback.

Volumio is still going strong. It has seen regular updates since 2016, with the latest release in July 2020. A project worthy of investigation if you love your music and are willing to change distribution.


All the articles in this series:

Now and Then - See How Promising Open Source Software Has Fared
File ManagersSpaceFM, gentoo, Marlin, Eagle Mode, and Beesoft Commander
DistributionsThe fate of 15 distributions
Lean Desktop EnvironmentsXfce, ROX Desktop, LXDE, FVWM-Crystal, EDE, and Étoilé
IDEsBrackets, Light Table, Julia Studio, Dart Editor, and Aptana Studio
Music Playersqomp, Lollypop, Yarock, Pragha, and Volumio
Web Browserseww, Liri, Vivaldi, Ubuntu Internet Browser, Fifth, Dooscape, and Breach
Terminal EmulatorsTerminology, Cool-Retro-Term, and Final Term
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5 comments

  1. In linux mint rhythmbox is the default application for music which I use. To me its a bit dated in the interface design. So I looked on repos for others. There are a few on this article list on the repo. I decided to use audacious the interface is nice and I can use it on windows as will.

  2. I don’t know what criteria is used to make this “TOP”, but let out of this list QMMP (much better and modern interface than QOMP) or Audacious (same than QMMP comments) make me suspect that this list is no created based on experiencie, but “Googling”.

  3. Qmmp hasn’t seen any development for years. There was a minor release last month but that just fixed a few bugs. The software is basically unmaintained.

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