There are a million and one music players for Linux. Okay, maybe that’s not accurate, but ask a group of Linux enthusiasts what their favorite music player is, and you’ll likely hear three names mentioned above all the rest: Amarok, Banshee and Rhythmbox. You’ll also hear people talk about gmusicbrowser, quod libet, listen, exaile, guayadeque, decibel, clementine, cmus (for the commandline geeks!), and others I’m forgetting. Point is, there are a lot of them, and they each have their good points. Today, I discovered a new music player called YaRock that, while it isn’t full of web integration features, offers something a person transitioning from Windows (and Windows Media Player) will appreciate: a familiar interface.
Let me reiterate something: YaRock is new. Very new. As in the project was just released August 26 (and is currently at version 0.0.35, for those keeping track), so don’t expect a ton of polish yet. But from what I can see, it’s off to a promising start.
I mentioned a familiar interface to Windows Media Player, and for that, the screenshots provided will explain what I mean better than words. YaRock offers an artist view, an album view, and a track view. You get the familiar “pile of album covers” concept, for starters, and overall it just kind of feels familiar. To be honest, it isn’t my favorite way of browsing my music collection (I still prefer the three-pane idea a la iTunes and other players), but again, for someone leaving behind Windows and their familiarity with Windows programs, this is a nice touch.
I also mentioned that YaRock doesn’t offer a lot of web-integration. Not to put too fine a point on it, but when YaRock gets one more web service, it will have a total of one. At the moment, YaRock does nothing but play music. There is no visualizer, no equalizer, no Last.fm scrobbling or streaming, no Wikipedia integration, no lyrics look-up. It also doesn’t play video or transfer music to a portable player, and for someone looking for music store integration with 7digital, Amazon or something else, you can forget it, because it’s not there. Just pure music playing. And to be honest, for that it works great. But for people considering whether to dump their current Linux player for YaRock, I’d guess it will need a few more features. Actually, it does now have automatic cover art fetching, so I guess that’s a bit of Web integration!
Using YaRock was pretty simple. At the moment it’s only released as source code, but building it was very simple. Just install the Qt and Phonon development libraries, make sure TagLib is installed, then type “qmake” followed by “make” and after a bit, voila… you have YaRock, ready to play music.
The first time you start up YaRock, you obviously have no music in your library (because YaRock also doesn’t come with an iTunes or Banshee or Rhythmbox library importer), but adding music is as simple as telling YaRock where your library is, and then waiting for it to import. Once there, you can choose from among the different browsing methods (artist, album, track view), add items to the playlist, and rock out, I guess.
In my testing, YaRock was a little slow. It felt slow to import my library, but I do have a large music collection. More than that, however, was that YaRock didn’t display ANY of my collection until ALL the music had been imported, so while I was pretty sure it hadn’t ground to a halt, I didn’t get any feedback that anything was actually happening. Also, scrolling through the library felt slow as well. I imagine this is because YaRock has to create the fancy little visual piles of album covers, but it really slowed down browsing, especially when one of my favorite artists (with a lot of albums), was coming up.
Still, it’s definitely a good start. I would say that YaRock probably isn’t ready for full-time everyday use yet, but if the developer gets help, maybe it will be there someday.