Five Amarok Tips and Tricks

Written by BinnyVA on October 10, 2007 – 11:43 pm -

Amarok

Rating

If the rating feature is turned on you can rate the songs from the player…

Settings -> Configure Amarok -> General -> Use Rating = On

Ratings in Amarok

Song Information Fetching

Amarok can automatically fetch information about the current song from the internet

Lyrics

Context -> Lyrics

This will fetch the lyrics of the current song from http://lyrc.com.ar and display it within amarok.

Lyrics in Amarok

Singer Details

Context -> Artist

Fetches the Wikipedia page for the singer of the current song.

Album Cover

Right Click Song -> Edit Track Information -> Summary
Right Click on the CD Cover Image -> Fetch from Amazon.com
Click on the ‘Next’ button until you find an Image you like and then click ‘Save’.

Plugins/Extensions/Scripts

If you want more from amarok, you can install some Amarok plugins(they are called ‘Scripts’ in amarok)

If you did not find the plugin you need, you can write your own plugin.

OSD for Current Song

It is possible see the title of the current song without opening amarok.

Settings -> Configure Global Shortcuts -> Show OSD = Ctrl+Shift+Q(for example)

Now whenever you press that shortcut, a small OSD will popup showing the name of the current song and the artist.

Browse the Amarok DB

Amarok stores all the information in a SQLite database(by default). This can be found at ‘~/.kde/share/apps/amarok/collection.db’. You can browse through it with a software capable of opening SQLite. You will find playlists, albums, fetched lyrics etc.

I have not found a practical use for this – yet. If you find any, let me know.

More Tips…


Posted in Applications, Audio, Configuration | 6 Comments »

5 Improvements for Amarok

Written by BinnyVA on September 30, 2007 – 10:37 pm -

Amarok

My favorite music player in Linux is amaroK. But, despite all its advantages, there are some areas where amaroK could have done better.

Show Current Song Title on Mouseover

Currently, there is no way I can know what song is playing without opening the application window. In the XMMS Status docklet, the name of the current song will popup if you hover over the system tray icon for some time. Although amaroK shows the song title on song change, it is not shown on mouseover.

Update: amarok has this feature – but some bug in Fedora Core disables it.

Repeat Loop for Artist

amaroK has three different repeat modes…

  • Repeat entire playlist
  • Repeat current album
  • Repeat current track

amaroK Repeat Modes

I would like another repeat loop – ‘Repeat Current Artist’

Repeat loop for all queued tracks

Yet another repeat loop I would like is ‘Repeat all Queued Tracks’.

Less Processor Intensive

One of my main complaints about amaroK is that it is kinda processor intensive. Even when the application is minimized to the system tray, amaroK is at the top in the list of the ‘top’ command. I am not sure that anything can be done about this – decoding MP3 involves a bit of crunching.

Songs must start from the beginning on application launch

Amarok has a feature called ‘Resume playback on start’ – if it is enabled, amaroK will automatically start playing the last played song on startup. The problem is that the song don’t begin at the beginning – it start from the point at which we quit last time. If you quit amaroK at the middle of a song, the next time you start amaroK, it will automatically start playing from the beginning of that song.

This is a very useful feature – I have it enabled. However, I want the song to start from the beginning.

If you want to enable this feature, it can be found here…

Settings > Configure Amarok > Playback > Resume playback on start

That’s my list for now – do you want to add anything to this list? Leave it in the comment section.


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Posted in Applications, Audio | 6 Comments »

Amarok MP3 Player

Written by BinnyVA on September 23, 2007 – 11:12 pm -

Amarok

amaroK is currently the player of my choice – it rocks. Everything I ever wanted in a MP3 Player and more.

Global Shortcuts

I must be able to control some functions in the player like Play/Pause, Next/Previous song etc. with the keyboard without having to open the software. For example, you are banging away at your keyboard creating the next big thing. Suddenly someone calls you – but you can’t make out what they are trying to say because you are playing music at volumes that makes it audible to a deaf man halfway round the world. Now you have to open up the player, find the pause button(in some winamp skins, they are nearly impossible to find), pause the song and then try to listen to what someone was screaming about.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could just press a keyboard combination from any app and your player pauses? Winamp(version 5 onwards) had this feature if you enabled a plugin called Global Hotkeys. amaroK supports this feature natively – amarok->Settings->Configure Global Shortcuts.

Stays in the System Tray

Another must have feature – when I listen to music I don’t want to see the application that plays it. I don’t want to see some any stupid visualizations. I don’t want to see any dancing pixies. In short, all I want from a player is hear the music – not play some animation that’s eating my CPU cycles.

The best way to make sure of this is if the app stays in the system tray(or status bar). And amaroK does that. Some basic operation(play/pause, stop, etc.) are available from the right click menu of amaroK icon in the system tray.

There is also a hidden feature – just bring you mouse over the amaroK icon in the system tray any scroll the mouse wheel down – this reduces the volume!

amarok Volume

But I have one complaint about that – there is no way I can know what song is playing. In the XMMS Status docklet, the name of the currently song will popup if you hover over the icon for some time. That is not possible in AmaroK.

XMMS Status Docklet

Update: Amarok has this feature – but in Fedora, its disabled. Some bug, I guess

Other Cool Features…

  • Media Library
  • Fetches Lyrics/Artist Info from the Web
  • Supports Podcasts
  • Inbuilt Bulk MP3 Tag editor
  • Able to access MP3 players(the hardware players – you know – like iPod)

For More Information


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Posted in Applications, Audio, KDE | 17 Comments »

Global HotKeys For XMMS using KHotKeys

Written by BinnyVA on September 17, 2007 – 10:47 pm -

Wouldn’t it be great if you could just press a keyboard combination from any app and your player pauses? Winamp(version 5 onwards) had this feature if you enabled a plugin called Global Hotkeys. You can’t do this in XMMS – but you can set up KHotkeys or Input Action to do it for you.

This is an extremal cool feature of KDE(sorry – no support for Gnome). You can access this feature by opening up Control Panel->Regional & Accessability->Input actions. You could configure it to give some commands to XMMS when you press a shortcut key.

The Examples group already have a XMMS action – next. Follow the format of that example to set the shortcuts for other actions in XMMS. I have 3 action in my system…

  • Play/Pause – Ctrl+Alt+Home
  • Previous Song – Ctrl+Alt+Page Up
  • Next Song – Ctrl+Alt+Page Down

XMMS in KHotkeys

Working of KHotkeys

For this example, I am going to create the Next Song action for XMMS. Click on the New Action Button at the bottom.

First you have to set the action type – the simplest is ‘Keyboard Shortcut->Keyboard Input’. This type simulates a specified key input in a given application when you press the shortcut trigger. For example, when you press ‘Ctrl+Alt+Page Down’ KHotkeys will send the key ‘b’ to XMMS – that is the shortcut in XMMS to go to the next song.

Action Type

In the next tab, you can set up a shortcut trigger(Say Ctrl+Alt+Page Down).

Action Shortcut

The ‘Keyboard Input Settings’ tab does all the major work – it decides the key to be send and the application to which the key must be send. In our example, the Keyboard Input is ‘b'(XMMS Shortcut for the next Song).

Input Settings

Next click on New->Simple Window in the Window section. Now open XMMS, click on the ‘Autodetect’, and then click on XMMS. This will populate the fields of the Window popup. We only need the ‘Window Class’ – change the drop down to the ‘Is’ option.

Action Window

Now click the Apply button.

That’s it – open up XMMS and play any song. If you press Ctrl+Alt+Page Down, XMMS will skip to the next song.

Try doing other things with KHotkeys – it is a powerful tool.


Posted in Applications, Audio, Configuration, KDE | 3 Comments »

XMMS – X MultiMedia System

Written by BinnyVA on September 10, 2007 – 11:48 pm -

XMMS

XMMS is a Winamp clone – people who are new to Linux often use this player as they are familiar with Winamp. It is easy to use, lightweight and has all essential things needed in a basic audio player.

XMMS Screenshot

One great feature of XMMS is that is supports Winamp skins – so people who are switching can have the same experience they are familiar to in Winamp.

XMMS does not have all the ‘special’ features that I am interested in. But some features can be added using plugins.

One must-have plugin is the Status Docklet Plugin. This plugin puts a XMMS icon it the system tray that lets you control XMMS without pulling up the XMMS window. This plugin works in both KDE and Gnome.

XMMS Status Docklet

Activating the plugin…

  • Download and install the plugin
  • Open XMMS
  • Right click Menu > Options > Preference
  • General Plugin > Status Docklet Plugin = enable

Posted in Applications, Audio | 2 Comments »

Features I Look for in an MP3 Software

Written by BinnyVA on September 5, 2007 – 10:26 pm -

Music

The features that I expect from a audio player are somewhat odd. If you ask any one what they want from a MP3 software, they will say audio quality or visualizations or something like that. Not me – what I want is an ability to control the software easily.

I don’t hear music to enjoy it. I just turn it on when coding – I will not even be listening to it consciously. So I need a player that I can control without getting distracted from the task at hand.

Winamp(yes, that Windows app) was great at this. It had all the features I was looking for…

Simple Interface

As long as you use a neat skin.

Media Library

I don’t want to maintain playlists or anything like that – if I get an MP3 file I just put it in a folder called Music. It is the responsibility of the MP3 player to find it and add it to the playlist. Winamp 5+ had a feature called media library that did this.

System Tray Icon

As I said earlier, I am am passive listener of music – I want the Audio player to stay out of my way. I don’t want a taskbar entry – it should live in the system tray.

Winamp in System Tray

It is very important in Windows as it has just one taskbar and every open application is competing for space in it. But in linux, this is not so big an issue. I have eight desktops – with a taskbar for each.

Global Shortcuts

I must be able to pause/play a song using a shortcut key – from any application. If I am working on some code, I don’t want to pull up the player to pause it. Winamp had this feature – its called Global HotKeys

Global Hotkeys in WinAmp

When I moved from Windows to Linux, these were the features I looked for in an MP3 player.

Other features I look for…

  • Equalizer
  • Small footprint
  • Ability to handle MP3 Devices(like, say, iPod)
  • Plugin Support
  • Song Queuing

In the next few post, I am going to compare all the popular audio players available in Linux – and this is what I will be looking for.


Posted in Applications, Audio | 2 Comments »

MP3 Audio Players in Linux

Written by BinnyVA on August 27, 2007 – 11:26 pm -

There are no shortage of audio players in Linux. It has everything from command line mp3 players(mpg123) to RAM eating GUI players(like Amarok). With easily available codecs, linux supports almost all available formats.

I am going to do a series on the diffrent audio players available for Linux. This will focus on dedicated audio players – not video players that can handle audio as well(like mplayer).

The most popular audio players for linux are…

XMMS
A Winamp clone. Simple and user friendly, it is very popular on linux.
XMMS
Amarok
Amarok is the most feature rich player on Linux right now. It is a KDE app.
Amarok
Audacious
Another Winamp clone – this is actually a fork of beep-media-player.
Audacious
Banshee
Music management and playback for Gnome
Banshee
Rhythmbox
Rhythmbox is an integrated music management application, originally inspired by Apple’s iTunes.
JuK
An audio jukebox that supports collections of MP3, Ogg Vorbis and FLAC files. It is a part of the kdemultimedia package.
Juk
SongBird
Songbird is a desktop Web player, a digital jukebox and Web browser mash-up.
SongBird
Exaile
Exaile is a music player aiming to be similar to KDE’s Amarok, but for GTK+ and written in Python.
Exaile
mpg123
A fast, free console based MP3 audio player for Linux, FreeBSD, Solaris, Hpux and near all other UNIX systems.

I will explore XMMS in more detail in the next post.


Posted in Applications, Audio, Gnome, KDE | 9 Comments »

MP3 Support In Fedora 7

Written by BinnyVA on July 2, 2007 – 9:58 pm -

Music

Fedora does not include MP3 support out of the box. This is because MP3 is a proprietary format. Fortunately, enabling MP3 support in Fedora 7 is very easy.

First thing to do is enable the Livna repository for Yum.

Run these commands as root

wget http://rpm.livna.org/fedora/7/i386/livna-release-7-2.noarch.rpm
rpm -ivh livna-release-7-2.noarch.rpm

The next step is to install all the necessary libraries. This is what I did…

yum install  gstreamer-plugins-ugly gstreamer-plugins-bad xine-lib-extras-nonfree

Install MP3 Support in Fedora 7


Posted in Audio, Configuration, Fedora | 3 Comments »