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Standards, Methodology, Test System Specs, And Legend

Tom's Definitive Linux Software Roundup: Audio Apps
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Standards

This is a collection of easy-to-install applications intended for those making, or even thinking about making the switch from Windows to Linux. These apps must fall in line with the realistic expectations of an average end-user in either a home or office desktop environment.

The three main criteria for the applications are: usability, quality, and popularity. Our test bed includes the top three Linux distributions (distros): Ubuntu, Fedora, and openSUSE. For an app to even appear in this article it has to be available in the official software repositories (repos) of one of these distros, or as DEB or RPM files from the software vendor's official Web site.

If you need a refresher, please reference Desktop Linux for the Windows Power User for an explanation of package management. Apps with too many bugs, crashes, or fails were left out. The quality of an app is determined by comparing its feature set to the industry-leading title in that category (whenever one exists). In the event that there are no clear industry-leading apps to compare against, don't worry. Anything that looks like it came out of a Win9x time-capsule doesn't pass.

Since Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) is in a constant state of bug reporting and fixing, the most popular apps will have the most complete sampling of users, in turn producing an even better title. Also, because support is mainly handled by the community of users, popular software naturally has more documentation and fewer issues with compatibility. Therefore, popularity greatly influences the order in which equally usable apps of comparable quality are listed. This includes extra weight given to multi-platform applications. For a more comprehensive explanation of the standards applied to these applications please reference the Standards and Methodology page from the first segment: Tom's Definitive Linux Software Roundup: Internet Apps.

Exclusion #1: Web Apps & Online Services.

Almost every article showcasing Web-based apps and online services is applicable to Linux as well as Windows, even if not specifically stated.

Exclusion #2: Windows Apps

Though we will include a page on virtualization and emulation, it is to showcase the actual virtualization/emulation software. We do not go into details for getting any specific Windows apps running in Linux.

Exclusion #3: Preferences

User preferences like 3D desktop effects, screen savers, panels, and launchers are not covered in this series. There is a planned how-to piece for preference options.

Exclusion #4: Games

Native casual games, free games, indie games, retail games, as well as virtualized platforms and emulation will be covered in a future rundown of Linux gaming.

Exclusion #5: Servers

This is a follow-up to the first article, and therefore concentrates on Linux as being an alternative OS for consumers. This means desktops and notebooks; not servers.

Methodology

This article is the fifth part in Tom's Definitive Linux Software Roundup and the test system has gone through a few upgrades since the series began. The latest hardware and software configurations are listed in the tables below.

64-bit Desktop Test System Specs

Host OS
Ubuntu Studio 10.10 "Maverick Meerkat" (64-bit)
Processor
Intel Core i5-750 @ 2.80Ghz (quad-core)
Motherboard
Gigabyte GA-P55A-UD7 (F7 BIOS)
Memory
8 GB Crucial DDR3 @ 1333 MT/s (2 x 4 GB)
Graphics
AMD Radeon HD 4870 Reference Board (512 MB GDDR5) PCIe 2.0
Storage
Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 500 GB SATA 3 Gb/s, 7200 RPM, 16 MB Cache
Optical
Asus DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS
Power Supply
Corsair TX750W (750 W max)
Chassis
Zalman MS1000-HS2
CPU Cooler
Scythe Mugen 2 Revision B


In order to determine Ubuntu compatibility we used a fresh and updated virtual machine (VM) installation of Ubuntu 10.10 (32-bit) with the default GNOME graphical user interface (GUI). For Fedora, we used Fedora 14 (32-bit) with GNOME. To check openSUSE compatibility, we used openSUSE 11.3 (32-bit), with KDE.

Virtual Machine specs:

Version
Oracle VirtualBox 3.2.10 r66523
Guest OS 1
Ubuntu 10.10 "Maverick Meerkat" (32-bit)
Guest OS 2
Fedora 14 "Laughlin" (32-bit)
Guest OS 3
openSUSE 11.3 (32-bit)
CPU
1 CPU--AMD-V, and Nested Paging enabled
Base Memory
1536 MB
Video Memory
128 MB--3D Acceleration Enabled
Storage
8 GB--Dynamically Expanding
Audio
PulseAudio Audio Driver


In order to test drive the feature set of the applications (and to determine 64-bit friendliness), we fell back on the host OS, a native (non-VM) and fully updated installation of 64-bit Ubuntu Studio 10.10. The version number that we looked at appears in parenthesis next to each application's name. This may not necessarily be the latest version, or the same version available via your distribution's software repository.

Legend:

An applications logo links to its homepage (e.g. Firefox = mozilla.com/firefox).

indicates availability in the default Ubuntu repos.

indicates availability in the default Fedora repos.

indicates availability in the default openSUSE repos.


links to an available .deb package download.

links to an available .rpm package download.

links to an available Windows download.

links to an available Mac download.

* The icons used in this article were borrowed from the hydroxygen icon set by deviantdark and hosted on GNOME-look.org, along with a ton of other high quality theming elements.

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  • 0 Hide
    nevertell , February 17, 2011 8:12 AM
    Great stuff, I'll try out some of those.

    Although I had tried Banshee a few years ago, and it just couldn't deal with 30 gb of music.
  • 0 Hide
    machvelocy , February 17, 2011 10:11 AM
    D'oh.... i didn't know before if you can sync ipod in linux (yes i'm a linux n00b).
  • -1 Hide
    pelov , February 17, 2011 10:50 AM
    Linux has always been quite robust in the audio segment, particularly if you consider that the majority of apps are completely free and hog less resources. Move over apple.

    Though some apps are .deb or .rpm, or what have you, depending on the linux distro you can still open/install them just fine.

    Good writeup :) 
  • 0 Hide
    haplo602 , February 17, 2011 11:57 AM
    I miss xmms in the list, just for nostalgia.

    Audacious fits my bill for a music player. Simple yet capable.
  • 0 Hide
    nukemaster , February 17, 2011 12:37 PM
    does Audacious take winamp 2 skins like xmms does?
  • 0 Hide
    admiral_grinder , February 17, 2011 12:59 PM
    I have tried several of the Winamp clones on my Ubuntu box, but I'm using Audacious to be the better. Out of all the clones I have found the playlist sorting options are a bit weak. While you can sort by Artist or by Title, you can't do both. They do have the important one of sorting by path and filename though so you can que up albums in the right order.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , February 17, 2011 1:05 PM
    Nice review! I look forward to looking at how gaming works on linux
  • 0 Hide
    castlefox , February 17, 2011 2:39 PM
    Thank you Toms for doing a linux article !!!!!

    I didnt know those ipod syncing programs actually worked. I cant wait to try out Banchee in Ubuntu 11.04

    PS> Type O Negative and all the other metal put a smile on my face :) 
  • 0 Hide
    Crazy Hitchhiker , February 17, 2011 2:59 PM
    Nice to see that you are still doing linux articles! I'm a little curious why several programs were left off, though: VLC, Audacity, and WinFF. Oh well, just keep up the good work!
  • 0 Hide
    castlefox , February 17, 2011 3:10 PM
    Crazy HitchhikerNice to see that you are still doing linux articles! I'm a little curious why several programs were left off, though: VLC, Audacity, and WinFF. Oh well, just keep up the good work!


    VLC is more of a video thing.... it does stand for "video lan client"
  • -1 Hide
    Dave_69 , February 17, 2011 3:38 PM
    So now Tom's has fallen into the trap of confusing an "application" from a "program." Nice...
  • 0 Hide
    gmgj , February 17, 2011 3:51 PM
    Of interest to some of us would be LIRC and other remote control - smart phone capabilites. I am a windows Media Monkey fan. I exercise to music and watch milkdrop visualizations. I installed projectM, a milkdrop replacment last week and it has been working great.
  • 0 Hide
    jhansonxi , February 17, 2011 4:05 PM
    castlefoxVLC is more of a video thing.... it does stand for "video lan client"
    It's changed over the years so the abbreviation doesn't really fit anymore. It can transcode and serve streams.
  • 0 Hide
    hangfirew8 , February 17, 2011 4:20 PM
    Good timing for this article. I'm tired of my Gentoo/KDE latest-and-greatest Amarok crashing 50% of the time when connecting to Internet Radio. As soon as I'm done transitioning boot to SSD, I'll be checking out Banshee et al.
  • 0 Hide
    Phu5ion , February 17, 2011 4:22 PM
    I've been using Pithos for my Pandora listening pleasure and it works pretty well. The only problem I've had with it is that if you pause and then restart the station you will lose your stream. This probably has more to do with Pithos closing the connection to Pandora's stream than anything else, but it is frustrating when you have to pause a great song.
  • 0 Hide
    adamovera , February 17, 2011 8:45 PM
    Really sorry for the late responses everyone, didn't know this published today, doh!
    nukemasterdoes Audacious take winamp 2 skins like xmms does?

    Sure does, version 2.x WinAmp skins supported.
    castlefoxThank you Toms for doing a linux article !!!!!I didnt know those ipod syncing programs actually worked. I cant wait to try out Banchee in Ubuntu 11.04PS> Type O Negative and all the other metal put a smile on my face

    The older and simpler iPods should not give you any issues, can't speak for the iPhone or iPod Touch though. LOL, I tried to break it up a bit with classic rock, but my collection is overwhelmingly metal ;) 
    Crazy HitchhikerNice to see that you are still doing linux articles! I'm a little curious why several programs were left off, though: VLC, Audacity, and WinFF. Oh well, just keep up the good work!

    Audacity is in the next segment: Audio Production. VLC and WinFF are in the one after that: Video Apps ;) 
    Dave_69So now Tom's has fallen into the trap of confusing an "application" from a "program." Nice...

    We used app/application/software/program interchangeably, otherwise we'd have the word 'application' about 3,000 times in this series.
    gmgjOf interest to some of us would be LIRC and other remote control - smart phone capabilites. I am a windows Media Monkey fan. I exercise to music and watch milkdrop visualizations. I installed projectM, a milkdrop replacment last week and it has been working great.

    Smartphones software will not be in the Roundup, maybe sometime down the road. LIRC will not be covered here either, possibly in the final segment of the Roundup, but I can't promise anything because I have not fooled around with that yet (due to Netflix streaming and Blu-Ray, my HTPC is, unfortunately, running Windows). Is projectM really close to MilkDrop now? I tried it about 2 years ago and it didn't compare. God I miss MilkDrop, hell, I miss WinAmp. Nullsoft: MAKE A LinAmp!
    HangFireW8Good timing for this article. I'm tired of my Gentoo/KDE latest-and-greatest Amarok crashing 50% of the time when connecting to Internet Radio. As soon as I'm done transitioning boot to SSD, I'll be checking out Banshee et al.

    Have you given Arch or Chakra a spin yet (I'm pretty heavily in the weeds right now and haven't gotten around to it yet)? Let me know how the SSD works out - another thing I have yet to tinker with :( 
    Phu5ionI've been using Pithos for my Pandora listening pleasure and it works pretty well. The only problem I've had with it is that if you pause and then restart the station you will lose your stream. This probably has more to do with Pithos closing the connection to Pandora's stream than anything else, but it is frustrating when you have to pause a great song.

    Although I missed that app, Pithos does not qualify for the Roundup due to it not being in the default repos, nor offering a DEB/RPM installer.
  • 0 Hide
    mayne92 , February 18, 2011 1:45 AM
    Nice Linux roundup! I love reading your Linux articles Adam.
  • 0 Hide
    bit_user , February 18, 2011 1:46 AM
    Hey, great article! I usually just stick to what I know, so articles like this help expose me to new progs.

    I just wanted to put in a plug for GStreamer. It's kind of like DirectShow in that you construct a processing graph with nodes that are data sources, sinks, and some number of filters. It's pretty technical, but it's by far the most powerful tool out there for converting, decoding, or streaming just about anything. There are some GUI front-ends, or you can just use gst-launch to build graphs from the commandline.
  • 0 Hide
    Dave_69 , February 18, 2011 5:04 AM
    Quote:
    We used app/application/software/program interchangeably, otherwise we'd have the word 'application' about 3,000 times in this series.


    Oh, okay. Well, technically they're programs.
  • 0 Hide
    compton , February 18, 2011 5:34 AM
    One aspect of music playback is supp)ort for ASIO and WASAPI. While I have a couple of options for Windows (Foobar, J.River), I'm not sure what my options are for Linux. Any thoughts?
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