Sometimes all these music players, with their Last.fm scrobbling and Wikipedia integration, their MP3 player support, streaming radio stations and lyrics look-up can be a bit much. I mean, you just want to listen to your music, right? Not to mention the fact that with all those added features, it isn’t uncommon for your music player to take up a lot of system memory. And sure, RAM is cheap, but there’s no need to be wasteful with it! Thankfully, a new player has emerged called DeaDBeeF, and while it has a few nice features and supports a lot of music formats, the one thing it doesn’t do is waste system resources.
First, if your music collection is stored as MP3, or Ogg Vorbis, or FLAC, APE, WV or WAV, then DeaDBeeF could be the player you’re looking for. It reads tag information (little bits of text stored inside the music file that tell the music player the name of the song, album, artist and similar information. If you keep cuesheets with your albums, DeaDBeeF can play those playlists for you on all supported files except WV and WAV.
And it’s fast. Really fast. Unlike some players for Linux which use KDE or GNOME libraries rather heavily (and get nice integration and effects, of course), DeaDBeeF only uses GTK2 to draw its interface, which speeds up things a lot, especially if you’re using DeaDBeeF on a system running xfce or another “minor” desktop environment, which would otherwise be forced to load those KDE or GNOME libraries (and thereby take more time to launch).
But DeaDBeeF isn’t completely bare bones. It has a nice tray icon so you can minimize the main interface and still keep playing music, as well as drag and drop support. This allows you to drag music into the playlist, as well as to reorder the playlist without having to constantly click little up and down arrows to move tracks around.
And, in spite of my crack earlier about Last.fm support… DeaDBeeF does ship with a plugin, so all your scrobbling needs are taken care of! If you’re a commandline geek (and what Linux user isn’t, at least on some level), then DeaDBeeF can be controlled from the Terminal, and the volume… you can control that with a spin of your mouse wheel.
Taking DeaDBeeF for a spin is an exercise in simplicity. Open it up, add the files you want to play, and play them. Playback goes in order, as you’d expect, but there are also random and shuffle modes for those wanting a little surprise in their life!
Behind the scenes, DeaDBeeF is a very capable player that doesn’t seem to lack support for much. As Linux users know, certain players want to only work with certain sound systems such as ALSA or PulseAudio, but DeaDBeeF works with both, as well as OSS. If you have a multiple audio device setup, DeaDBeeF can be piped to a specific one to suit your needs.
The GUI is flexible as well, with the tray icon an option to turn off or on, and the colors within the playlist are customizable as well. DeaDBeeF supports proxy servers, Global Hotkeys, and you can edit MP3 and APE tags from within the application. No third-party tag editor necessary.
As I said near the beginning, DeaDBeeF is a superficially simple player that packs a punch. It might not be for the person who has thousands of MP3 files scattered all over the system and needs the organization some players provide. But for those users with well-structured folders containing a well-ordered music collection, DeaDBeeF might be just what the doctor ordered.