iTunes is sucking
July 26, 2007 9:21 AM   Subscribe

I need an iTunes replacement for Mac OSX, a whole lot more...

My problem is my library of MP3s is too big to practically fit on my laptop (it would occupy too significant a chuck of my hard drive space). My MP3s sit out on a network share so if I import the MP3s into iTunes it becomes unusable (by that I mean so sluggish it is fist poundingly frustrating to use).

I can use mt-daap (now known as Firefly Media Server) to stream my music to iTunes and that works fine except, I can't rate any of those songs, add them to playlists, edit id3 tags or anything but basically play them. This state of affairs is unacceptable.

So I'm looking for something to replace iTunes. The features I require are:
- Manages files on a network share (be able to rate, change ID3 info)
- Run in Mac OS (i.e. not under Parallels or something like that)
- Provide a simple and easy to use way to browse files by Artists/ Album / Rated / Playlists (anything else I don't care about)
- Allow me to rate songs
- Allow me to build play list easily
- have a straightforward interface

Things that might be nice:
- XM streaming support
- Keep files organized in a reasonable decipherable hierarchy
- Podcast integration
- Watch folder that would be scanned to add new music to the library

Things I don't care about:
- being able to play a crap ton of formats (MP3 and maybe FLAC and OGG are all I need)
- Video of any sort
- Streaming audio

It seems like a simple set of requirements but I haven't found anything that meets them sufficiently. I used Winamp on PCs but the media manger part of the app was a always a pain in the ass even after I had used it for a long time.

I've tried Songbrid and it would be fine, it it worked. It has problems importing my whole library and for some reason skips frequently while playing audio files (this is neither a hardware nor network issue). I will not continually download the nightly builds hoping they everything gets fixed. When they hit release I'd be willing to try again but not till then.

I can't believe something like this doesn't exists, I don't think my requirements are that hard to meet. I would love to hear some suggestions. Thanks.
posted by The Radish to Technology (18 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Have you tried mounting your network drive in OS X, and then selecting that drive as the location for iTunes music library?
posted by chunking express at 9:58 AM on July 26, 2007

Response by poster: Yeah, no dice. I've been told (take this with a grain of salt) that iTunes is constantly writing to the disk and this is why performance over the network suffers.
posted by The Radish at 10:11 AM on July 26, 2007

I say this in every OS X thread, but have you searched in I Use This? It has a ton of free, share, donation, etc ware and you can search by tag.
posted by sneakin at 10:35 AM on July 26, 2007

Amarok appears to have pretty much all the features you're looking for. The trick, though, is getting it to work in OSX. Here are a few guides to installing it on OSX: Amarok via Fink; Note on Installing Amarok on OS X; and HOWTO: Install and run Amarok on OS X.
posted by cog_nate at 10:47 AM on July 26, 2007

you could use parralells to run Windows and then run any of about 200 media managers... media monkey and foobar (my personal fave @ 100GB of music and counting). this may be a serious option for you.

( i duck)
posted by chasles at 10:51 AM on July 26, 2007

iTunes isn't constantly writing to disk, but it is A) reading the whole song file before playing or editing a tag, B) writing out the whole song whenever you edit a tag, and C) writing out not one but two library files (one binary and one XML) each time you edit a tag, finish playing a song, or skip a song. Given the size of your collection and how much tagging you've done (or received), each library file may be in the tens or scores of megabytes, which can easily make a fast machine feel slothy. A & B strike me as necessary conditions for any music manager; it's the impact of C that you might be able to minimize with something more optimal for your needs.
posted by kimota at 11:03 AM on July 26, 2007

As a point of reference, I use iTunes with all of my music library shared off of an infrant readynas.

Over the wireless it's plenty usable, if occasionally sluggish. Rating is fine, updating tags can be rather slow.

When I'm on wired ethernet I don't notice a difference from local storage.

Syncing an ipod/phone when it needs a lot of music is painful, so if it's going to copy more than an album or so I waddle over and plug my laptop into a magic gigabit cable.
posted by flaterik at 11:13 AM on July 26, 2007

I don't think iTunes should be that bad over wireless. However, if your "iTunes Library" file is located remotely, that might be the cause of the problem. The iTunes Library file (not to be confused with your actual music files) should reside in your local user folder at ~/Music/iTunes/. But you can have the music files live anywhere.

If you want to give iTunes another shot, the best thing to do might be to delete the ~/Music/iTunes/ directory, relaunch iTunes, and in preferences:advanced change the music folder. Locate your remote share. Once you've set that up, use "File:add to library" to, well, add to your library from the share. This is very slow over wireless--best to plug in.
posted by adamrice at 12:05 PM on July 26, 2007

Response by poster: Chasies: I already mentioned i don't want to run have to run Parralells to this

cog_nate: Thanks but I want something that isn't a pain in the ass. I don't want to have to install more software just to try and install it. I'm capable this just strikes me as kludgey.

adamrice: 1) It isn't an issue of wireless vs. wired both are dog slow. It is matter of the iTunes application itself running slow, not an issue of reading the MP3s off the network. I have always kept the

2) I have always kept my iTunes library file on the local hard.

Like I said the issues isn't the network but something with iTunes itself. My library of music is around 70 GB. iTunes performs like a champ with a much smaller library but just doesn't scale up. Unless I'm doing something completely boneheaded I don't believe iTunes can do what I want. Nothing that I've read indicates that I'm some how "doing it wrong" with regards to setting up iTunes over the network.
posted by The Radish at 1:58 PM on July 26, 2007

Radish: I think there's something screwy with your setup. I'm getting perfectly normal performance using iTunes connecting to a pokey NAS box over wifi, with a 60 GB library.

That said, it sounds like you know what you're doing, and I can't come up with any obvious things you'd be doing wrong, other than what I mentioned.
posted by adamrice at 3:28 PM on July 26, 2007

A bit late but I think Amarok is pretty much your only option and even then it's not lightning fast. It seems like a lot of people are satisfied with iTunes so there isn't much effort in developing an alternative.

I'm hoping Songbird will eventually come around like how we got Firefox from Mozilla.
posted by tksh at 5:00 PM on July 26, 2007

I second Amarok. It is quite the PITA to get running, but it's worth it. So much so, that for awhile I was running a parallel KDE desktop on my gentoo laptop just to play/manage my music off of.

If only I had the time to fully port it...
posted by zap rowsdower at 6:10 PM on July 26, 2007

Have a look at SlimServer. Not sure it allows rating (it might, I'm not sure) but otherwise Ithink it supports everything you're asking for.
posted by genehack at 6:23 PM on July 26, 2007

Check out Cog:
posted by nchapman at 6:29 PM on July 26, 2007

Response by poster: OK not sure anyone cares anymore but thanks for the suggestions.

nchapman: I actually like Cog a lot, it just isn't there yet in terms of the features I want. I even checked the message board.

zap rowsdower: When you port Amarok, first beer is on me. If I get really bored this weekend I may try and install it. The directions on junkthatrocks are hilarious. "
The Amarok website states that if you want to run Amarok in OS X, just type "fink install amarok" and it will work. This is the biggest crock of bullshit ever"

adamrice and others: You may be right, something might be screwy, I just have no idea what it is. I'm going to delete the iTunes library files and try and reimport everything again and see what happens. Why not right? Maybe the 4th time will be the charm. Any suggestions as to what I should keep in mind? Here is what I plan on doing:
-Delete iTunes data files
-Set iTunes folder as network share
-Drop files onto iTunes
posted by The Radish at 7:19 PM on July 26, 2007

-Delete iTunes data files
-Set iTunes folder as network share
-Drop files onto iTunes

1) Delete iTunes data files
2) Leave iTunes folder where it is, on the local HD
3) Uncheck "copy files to iTunes Music folder when adding to library"
4) Make sure your remote server has updated and proper network drivers. I ran into a nasty issue where I was getting 1MB/sec performance using samba (ftp or scp to same box was many times faster), and the problem turned out to be an obsolete branch of the drivers for the gb-e card.
5) Select Add to Library from file menu and select music folder on network share
6) Wait
posted by Caviar at 2:46 PM on July 27, 2007

I second slimserver. Allows ratings with the TrackStat plugin. It is simply the best thing since sliced bread. Open source and free software, and I like the hardware player too. I have over 35,000 songs in my collection, and this is the only sensible way to organize and be able to search and access everything easily. Designed for network use, one server many players, can play the same or different music.
posted by bephillips at 3:40 PM on July 30, 2007

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