Open-Source Replacement for iTunes
December 11, 2014 6:28 PM   Subscribe

iTunes has a nice interface but it sucks deep down. Is there a good open-source iTunes alternative for Windows? Linux and Mac OS are nice but not a necessity.

Ideally, it would use a native iTunes-style GTK interface and just play music. iDevice support is not important. Connecting to online streaming services is not important. It has to be open-source and be able to deal with large libraries.

There have been a lot of options, written in different programming languages with different UI toolkits, but all of them are painful to use. Music (AKA Noise) for Elementary OS is the only one so far that looks like it could be OK, but it's Linux-only for now.


It would be great to find a solution- these are the options explored so far, none of which have worked properly. Explaining why so you might be able to suggest a better alternative.
  • Amarok: Confused UI. Taking inspirations from Windows Media Player and iTunes, works worse than either of them.
  • Banshee: Nice interface, but even as the Linux branch is at 2.9, Windows development is stalled at 2.4 with a port that barely runs.
  • Clementine: Different UI toolkit from Amarok, same UI issues. Trying to be all things to all people, does nothing well.
  • Foobar2000: Dreadful hacky interface. User-unfriendly. Even with iTunes-like skins, it feels totally broken.
  • Miro: Adware disguised as open-source, slow, didn't work properly,
  • Nightingale (ex-Songbird): OK interface layout but the XULRunner interface is dog-slow and the automatic file organization feature was removed.
  • Rhythmbox: Does not work on Windows.
  • Tomahawk: Strange, confused UI (two search boxes?), really wants to hook you up with online services, not very good for playing local media.


Reiterating and narrowing this question from last year, which didn't turn up anything useful. Maybe there's a new project?
posted by anemone of the state to Computers & Internet (17 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
 
I usually use mpd to play music and while I don't personally use Windows, I've heard good things about the Cantata front end.
posted by Poldo at 6:59 PM on December 11, 2014


VLC and musikCube are two other open source alternatives. If you don't actually care about open source, WinAmp and MusicMonkey are good alternatives.
posted by sophist at 7:16 PM on December 11, 2014


Cantata + mpd, mentioned above, might be an option. Cantata can actually manage your mpd instance for you so you don't have to set up anything special. And it's cross platform (I contributed to its Mac port).
posted by zsazsa at 8:07 PM on December 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


If you don't actually care about open source, WinAmp and MusicMonkey are good alternatives.

I know of MediaMonkey but haven't heard of MusicMonkey. As mentioned, it's not open source but I find it very flexible and configurable.
posted by juiceCake at 9:39 PM on December 11, 2014


The question was about finding an open-source Windows-compatible music player with a UI like that of iTunes. MediaMonkey and Winamp aren't OSS, and none of the software suggested so far has an iTunes-like interface (playlists on the left, playlist contents in the main window).

Thanks for the feedback and help so far, but it would be nice if answers could stay on that topic. Anything outside the parameters of that question really isn't helpful here.
posted by anemone of the state at 9:42 PM on December 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


Alternately, if anyone knows of a Windows port of Noise (used to be Beatbox, called Music in Elementary OS) it seems like that would do the job very nicely.
posted by anemone of the state at 9:47 PM on December 11, 2014


It's been a few years since I've used it, and never on Windows, but have you tried Quodlibet?
posted by snakeling at 1:29 AM on December 12, 2014


DVD Jon's doubleTwist? It is unclear to me how much of it is open source. This page says: "Certain components of doubleTwist are available under an open source license." Perhaps that just refers to encoders/decoders and whatnot. On github, they've released their OSS AirPlay equivalent as well as a drawer layout for their Android app.
posted by thejoshu at 5:06 AM on December 12, 2014


Even if you didn't like it when you tried it, I'd encourage you to keep an eye on Foobar.

While you're right that the interface with the default skin is not-beautiful (and that there are some pretty ugly skins out there), if you can find a skin you like, it at least rises to the level of functional. And Foobar is highly configurable, actively developed and better at handling my fairly-large library than anything else I've tried.
posted by box at 5:45 AM on December 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


I haven't used iTunes, when you say "iTunes-style GTK interface" what do you mean?
posted by bdc34 at 6:40 AM on December 12, 2014


I went on a similar quest for a new music player a while back. I finally settled on MusicBee. The UI "just works" out of the box AND is very customizable. It is free, and though I haven't investigated deeply, at least partly open source. There's no adware. There's a great support community. It handles my large-ish music library.
posted by Lafe at 8:06 AM on December 12, 2014


none of the software suggested so far has an iTunes-like interface (playlists on the left, playlist contents in the main window)

Cantata: playlists on the left, playlist contents on the right.
posted by zsazsa at 9:20 AM on December 12, 2014


I took a very quick look at the Noise/Music source code and a Windows port doesn't seem out of the question, but it would take some work to get one done.
posted by zsazsa at 9:29 AM on December 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


I haven't used iTunes, when you say "iTunes-style GTK interface" what do you mean?

GTK is a cross-platform user-interface toolkit used by a lot of open-source software. It's nice and fast and mimics native system appearance pretty closely.

For people who haven't used iTunes, here's a diagram!

On the left, one can select the main music library or one of your playlists. In iTunes, the playlists can nest into super-playlists, but that's not a must.
The contents of the selected item display on the right. Whether you've got your library selected or a playlist, you can use the search box in the upper right to live-filter the displayed tracks by any visible field.
========================================================|
| Play/pause         | Search box, filters right pane   |
========================================================|
| Music Library░░░░░░░░░░|  Contents of selected item   |
| Playlist 1             |                              |
| Playlist Group 1 >     |                              | 
| Playlist Group 2 v     |                              | 
|    Grouped Playlist C  |                              |  
|    Grouped Playlist D  |                              |
|========================|                              |
| + Add a playlist       |                              |
=========================|==============================|

Cantata: playlists on the left, playlist contents on the right.

Not quite. iTunes displays a list of playlists in the left pane. Their contents appear in the main window when the playlist is selected. Cantana seems to follow a different paradigm, with the playlist tracks displaying in the left pane.

Even if you didn't like it when you tried it, I'd encourage you to keep an eye on Foobar.

After exploring every option under the sun, no. Foobar2000 can be styled to look different, but it will only work like Foobar2000.
posted by anemone of the state at 12:45 PM on December 12, 2014


What? I don't see playlist tracks in the left pane in that Cantata screenshot. It looks almost exactly like your diagram. Did you look at it?

Also, you're asking for help from people who you presume need a diagram of iTunes and have perhaps not used it? I'm not quite sure that you're going to be satisfied by ANYONE's answers here.
posted by destructive cactus at 5:36 PM on December 12, 2014


Someone hadn't used iTunes and asked how it worked. What's wrong with providing a diagram?

This Cantata screenshot (righthand bottom window) shows how the playlists in the left panel expand to contain tracks.
posted by anemone of the state at 5:49 PM on December 12, 2014


FWIW, you could submit a feature request to the Cantata developer (who seems pretty responsive).
posted by Poldo at 7:50 AM on December 13, 2014


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