Ubuntu Linux, Day 13: Playing Tunes in Banshee

30 Days With Ubuntu Linux: Day 13

For Day 13 of 30 Days With Ubuntu Linux I decided to take a deeper look at Banshee. I dabbled with the music playing app installed by default with Ubuntu during my trials and tribulations trying to sync my iPhone, but I had really barely scratched the surface.

Now, before everyone chimes in to tell me why Banshee sucks, or which is the greatest music app ever written that I should go install from the Ubuntu Software Center, I am looking at Banshee specifically because it is installed by default. I can also get a hundred different media players in Windows or Mac OS X, but trying to test them all and filter it down to the best could be a whole 30 Days With project of its own.

I don't have Windows Media Player or iTunes in Ubuntu, so its time to check out Banshee.
I started out by importing my media. Basically, I pointed Banshee at my music folder on the Windows partition and it indexed and cataloged the whole thing. So, now I have 8,750 songs to choose from in Banshee.

Now, before I start listing all of the reasons I don't care for Banshee, let me just say that I haven't yet found a perfect media player. But, I'll tell you up front that Banshee isn't going to change that, nor is it going to become my new favorite.

My first complaint isn't Banshee-specific, but Banshee is still guilty of it, so it gets counted as a complaint. I hate when the media player catalogs every possible variation of the artist name and/or catalogs every duet or whatever as a separate artist. For example, Banshee considers '2pac', '2Pac', '2Pac/Danny Ray', and '2Pac/Digital Underground' to be four different artists. If I actually wanted to listen to 2Pac's Greatest Hits Disc 2, I would have to listen to all four of those artists, or create some sort of playlist that stitches it all back together.

I could go through and manually edit the track info to make all of them the same--did I mention that I have 8,750 songs? I have had to go through a similar exercise to fix iTunes, but at least in iTunes I could correct entire albums at one time. If that is possible in Banshee, I haven't yet figure it out.

Next, Banshee doesn't give me enough options for navigating my music. The left pane lists Music as a library, and under Music it lists some default Banshee playlists: Favorites, Recently Added, Recently Played, and Unheard. The silly thing is that because I just imported all of my music, it all shows up as Recently Added, and it also all shows up as Unheard, so both of those lists are rendered useless.

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