Switching allegiances

Edit: Unfortunately, the images originally included in this post are gone, because of hosting problems in late 2009. My apologies.

I came to the realization the other day that on the three (or four, really) functional machines I regularly tamper with, the majority of them (three, that is) use AlsaPlayer over Audacious — the only abstainer being my OLPC laptop, which is strictly GTK1.2, and therefore uses XMMS. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I installed it, unless it was on a short-lived test system.

I like Audacious a lot — it’s been good to me and I prefer that style over music-management applications. As I have mentioned repeatedly and for a long time, I started out with early versions of Winamp, so that arrangement is what I am used to. If that makes me old-fashioned, I can live with it.

But there are a number of things about AlsaPlayer that I find preferable to Audacious. For one, the interface is even simpler, if you can believe that. Of course, to get that interface you have to build it with the GTK2 options; the Arch version (and the Ubuntu version, sort of … but not really, since there are precompiled versions for each interface) leaves out the options for the GTK2.

Which is a shame, because it’s simple and clean, and follows the GTK theme you choose. It also has a mess of options for sound system compatibility (like ESD and JACK and so forth) and architecture compatibility — those are things you’ll have to investigate on your own, since I rarely use them.

There’s more to like too. It takes up very little space, doesn’t require many dependencies outside the audio formats you prefer and the graphics libraries you want; you can disable visualizations completely or run 3D spectrum analyzers; it has a text-only mode that will run from the console and handle the same formats and input as the graphical version; it will stream audio from the Internet; it has one-button CD player access; it’s compact, so its easier on smaller resolutions; it has playback speed controls (which are unusual these days); and it has volume control independent of your hardware interface — so you can adjust the output of AlsaPlayer without interfering with your system-wide audio controls.

I could go on, but it’s something you would do best to test yourself. I know for a fact it won’t appeal to everyone — there are some things about it I don’t like too (I’d like integrated Open and Add options, with the system recognizing the difference between a playlist and an audio file, and just open it), but I find it a little less taxing on my system, a little less obtrusive with regard to aesthetics, and a little more appealing to my own minimalist sensibilities. You might also find it appealing. :)

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May 6, 2011
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