gmusicbrowser versus Exaile

Xubuntu Natty (aka 11.04) ships with gmusicbrowser as the default music player instead of Exaile, so I decided to play with gmusicbrowser in my 10.04 system.

gmusicbrowser looks a little raw, especially compared to Exaile, which has a nice, polished look.

gmusicbrowser opens up with just a tiny, unmarked console:

gmusicbrowser main interface

You have to mouse over buttons to figure out what does what. Obviously, play and stop and forward aren’t a problem, but it took me a while to figure out how to see all of my music (via what gmusicbrowser calls the browser area):

gmusicbrowser browser view

And you have to input your music via the settings area, which took me a while to figure out, too.

gmusicbrowser cannot burn music (nor can Exaile), but it has a nice workaround. When you ask it to import a disc, it kicks you into SoundJuicer (or whatever your default audio extraction program is — you can select it) and lets you import the CD from there. It’s a seamless process.

Unfortunately, gmusicbrowser doesn’t seem to index music on the fly, only on startup, so once you burn a CD, you have to shut down and re-open for the music to be playable. Exaile doesn’t index on the fly, either, but has a nice little re-scan button that will re-scan your collection for you.

At this point, I should mention that I usually don’t spend that much time burning CDs. This week there was some old music that I wanted on my MP3 player, followed by my having to buy a CD of an album that isn’t available electronically. So this review is probably a bit more CD-intensive than my typical music player usage would be.

gmusicbrowser also seemed to struggle to find album art. There’s an album art plugin, but I have yet to see any show up. Exaile also has an album art option, but it’s always just worked for me.

I might not be the right audience for gmusicbrowser. It seems super flexible, designed to give users multiple layout options. But I don’t want that kind of flexibility. I just want a simple way to play the song or album I want to hear in a given moment.

I’m not sure why Xubuntu moved to gmusicbrowser. I had initially heard Exaile development had been paused, but looking at their site, they had updates as recently as February.

So I’m sticking with Exaile. It easy to use. It’s got a simple interface. And it looks so much nicer than gmusicbrowser.

In general, I tend to love the Xubuntu team’s software picks, but this time, I’m sticking with my own (or, to be fair, their previous pick).

Also, as a general note, I’ve been playing with Xubuntu Natty. Not enough for a full review, but enough to recognize that it’s a simply beautiful distribution. I’m not a big dock user (I hate to take my hands off of the keyboard), but the dock does look very nice and does a great job of staying out of the way.

I’ll post something more comprehensive down the line, but my initial impression is that Natty is a breathtakingly beautiful take on XFCE.