iTunes Replacement?
December 4, 2013 12:56 PM   Subscribe

What is the best open-source iTunes alternative in 2013? Details inside.

Features needed:
  1. iTunes XML import.
  2. iTunes-like interface: List of playlists on the left, list of tracks on the right.
  3. Automatic file organisation based on tags.
Songbird or Nightingale would be the natural solution, but neither will automatically organise files. Foobar2000's interface is an exercise in frustration and its file organization feels like a clumsy hack.
What open-source, user-friendly software do people use to do this? This ought to be a solved problem by now.
posted by anemone of the state to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Also: Target platforms are Linux and Windows.
posted by anemone of the state at 12:58 PM on December 4, 2013

I have also tried this quest a few times, but have given up recently. I get the sense that development on most such things is waning as the market moves to the growing stream-everything model of life.

(Young people these days, they can get away with murder, they don't seem to download music anymore, they just find it online whenever they want to listen.)

Have you considered using an external script to organize and sort? I know that Amarok at least, is somewhat script-controllable.
posted by rokusan at 1:29 PM on December 4, 2013

Yes, when I was running Linux, Amarok was the best solution I found, but this was a couple of years ago.
posted by smoke at 1:30 PM on December 4, 2013

Wondershare has some alternatives, and it's interesting because they have updated their list over the last few years ( view of past page versions). The biggest change? More options to buy. MediaMonkey and CopyTrans Manager are free options with upgraded versions to buy, and both broadly look like iTunes.

If you want to dig around more, Wikipedia has a comparison of iPod managers.

And I know you said you weren't fond of Foobar, but there are some nice looking themes/skins, including an iTunes mimic.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:39 PM on December 4, 2013

beaTunes might work OK for you. Not free - but it can do considerably more than iTunes and the developers seem to care about updating it.
posted by rongorongo at 1:39 PM on December 4, 2013

I too am on this search. Rhythmbox is pretty, but falls over a lot. Audacious is dreadful; it's actually less usable than the XMMS on which it is based. Tomahawk might be okay; it's managed to play three tracks so far without crashing, which in my experience of a Linux-based music library program is quite good.

iPod support will always be a sore point on Linux. The relevant libraries are always a major version or so off Apple's firmware.
posted by scruss at 1:43 PM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Just to be clear, iDevice support isn't an issue.
posted by anemone of the state at 2:05 PM on December 4, 2013

Rhythmbox is actually rock solid for me -- I honestly can't remember it ever crashing. And apparently it can import iTunes playlists with a little hackery, though I've never had occasion to try it. (I'm not entirely clear whether you want one program with both Linux and Windows versions, or whether one program per platform is enough. I don't think there's a Windows version of Rhythmbox.)

Apparently a lot of the cool kids are using Clementine now, and it should be able to import iTunes playlists via the same conversion script I linked for Rhythmbox. I gave it a try recently and it seemed fine, but I prefer Rhythmbox's interface -- Clementine feels a bit shinier though.
posted by pont at 2:14 PM on December 4, 2013

After a few days' use, Tomahawk doesn't cut it; it's really just a skin for the TOMA.HK social music thing. Trying to get it to play an album from a local collection was hell.

It's Rhythmbox's plugins that crash it. It also wants to aggressively organize your music collection, so if that's what you want, it could be okay.
posted by scruss at 7:59 AM on December 6, 2013

Thanks for the suggestions so far!

A few additions:

Foobar2000 might be themable to look like iTunes, but the skin is only cosmetic- it still works like Foobar2000.
Amarok's interface paradigm is fundamentally different from iTunes': it's more of a poorly-designed Windows Media Player replacement.
As to external scripts for file management- the software needs to take care of file organization automatically.

Songbird/Nightingale used to have file sorting, but the feature was removed because it was buggy. Rhythmbox looks like it might be the best option, but it doesn't have a Windows port.
posted by anemone of the state at 3:34 PM on December 6, 2013

On Windows, I've been experimenting with Musicbee since the last iTunes update. I was able to import my library and playlists without much fuss, but my library is not very large - I've seen some complaints on the internet of it crashing on importing very large music collections. It has good file organization options. It's not open source, but it is free. But, it's Windows only. I tried Clementine before this, but I couldn't find a way to import my iTunes playlists - maybe I should have used that script linked above. It is pretty easy to point Clementine at your iTunes library though, and you might like the interface better than Amarok.
posted by bluefly at 1:53 PM on December 7, 2013

Banshee seems like it might be the solution, if not now then sometime in the future. While primarily Linux software, it does have an (alpha) port for Windows. The user interface has the same paradigm as iTunes, it has very good iTunes importing, and it will sort your files.

It also has a tendency to crash and then refuse to play any more files until you re-import your library.
posted by anemone of the state at 8:16 PM on December 7, 2013

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