gPodder is an Exercise in Simplicity

My wife and I try to run a few days a week, but winter is always a tough time for us. It gets dark so early here in New York City, and even without the recent snow and ice, the winter months are pretty cold for running. We’re just not that hardcore.

During the holidays, I noticed I was putting on some weight, so we went out and bought an exercise bike, to help with fitness in the winter months (we’re also watching our diet).

I’d always avoided exercise bikes because they’re so boring, but my vanity won out. To help with the boredom, I decided to listen to podcasts. That meant shopping for a podcast manager (full disclosure: I think I might have spent more time researching podcast managers than researching exercise bikes).

I checked out Lifehacker and the Xfce wiki and they both seemed to agree on gPodder (right after I installed gPodder, there was a big Reddit thread on podcast managers for Linux — people there seemed to like gPodder, too).


I installed it and have been enjoying it. It’s very good at managing podcasts. You just pop in the RSS feed and it offers to download podcasts as they become available. If you tell it where your MP3 player is, it’ll sync episodes for you, either automatically, or under your direction, to the folder of your choice.

You can have gPodder totally automate what gets synced and removed, or you can take a more active role in the process. Given that I’m a control freak, I tend to opt for the more active role.

The nice thing is, even with my control issues, gPodder just doesn’t require a lot of supervision. It gets music on and off my player pretty painlessly.

In terms of finding podcasts, I assume it’s obvious I don’t use iTunes. But the iTunes site actually has a decent podcast index. I browse by subject and then go to to the show site to grab the show feed. It’s not super efficient, but there are worse ways to find podcasts.

One thing I’ve run into is that a lot of podcasts are Advanced Audio Coding files, also known as .m4as. My Sansa Fuze can’t play those files, so for certain shows, I need to break out Sound Converter. It would be neat if gPodder could handle the conversion, but it’s not that big a deal.

Both gPodder and the exercise bike are working out for me so far. Neither is sexy and both are good at doing only one thing, but both are very good at that one thing they do.

Plus, gPodder is one more piece of evidence that the world truly does not need iTunes.

Except for their podcast index. I kind of like that.