Anyone using Songbird media player? What do you think?

I’ve been keeping an eye on the development of Songbird, because the idea of an open-source, free, web-integrated media player seemed very appealing. I didn’t want to download the very early versions, because they seemed to be having some teething problems, but this week i finally decided to check out version 0.4.

While the idea is great, i must say i’m pretty underwhelmed so far by its performance. I mean, this thing is SLOW. I didn’t place my whole collection in the library, but even with fewer than 5000 songs it takes ages to start, and to load the library. Scrolling too quickly through the library results in temporary stalling while the software responds, as does any use of the main left-hand menu. The Album Art Manager add-on is so slow as to be almost unusable, sometimes stalling the program so badly that it needs to be restarted.

Initially i thought that part of the problem might be my computer, but i really think it’s the program itself. Firstly, while my computer is over three years old, it’s specs (Pentium 4, 3.0GHz, 800MHz FSB, 2Gb RAM) should be more than sufficient to run any audio player. Also, i installed Songbird on a much newer laptop (Intel Core 2 Duo 2.0GHz processor, with 2Gb of RAM) and had almost identical problems. On both systems, Songbird typically uses over 200Mb of memory for basic music playing, which seems to me to be far too much.

I like the way that you can browse the web from within Songbird, and that the program recognizes audio file links in web pages and automatically loads the tag information, download link, etc. But, to be honest, that stuff is (for me, at least) secondary to a functioning music player.

Is anyone using this? Or tried it? Did you have similar problems, or are you finding that it works fine?

For me, so far, it’s an interesting experiment, but nowhere near ready to use as my primary music player.

I’m gonna give this one bump, in case there are any Songbird users out there.

Open Source code, in my experience, tends to rival even Microsoft in making code go slow when they try to get “idealistic” on the design. (Witness the Hurd OS.) And, pretty much, to accomplish that you have to really be doing things wrong at a fundamental level, and replicating that same design flaw all the way up to the top. It’s not something you can fix with a few core optimizations; you really just need to rewrite it.

I don’t know anything about Songbird in particular, but I would generally vote that you’re probably best to not expect performance boosts as time goes on. Both of the defacto desktop environments for Linux, Gnome and KDE, are buggy and run like dogs with each new generation that I’ve seen. But code that ran well the first generation, has ran well the second and third. It just seems to be the way that Open Source stuff is.

I’ve been toying with it since before 0.2 and I’ve got a 0.4 nightly installed right now. I worry that the 0.3 to 0.4 architectural changes haven’t made things any faster though. I hope that they haven’t developed themselves into a dead end - cross-platform is cool and all, but I’ve a feeling that the xul/moz devs are focussed elsewhere and the Songbird guys are aiming for a target that they should ditch and just get the fucking thing working even if that is just on the majority platform.

It has loads of potential though - I’m still hopeful it really will be the Firefox of media players.

waits until 2010

I’m so with you on this one, this would be one of the things to take me over to Linux for all everyday use. Thanks to PowerMenu, I knock the priority of iTunes back when it starts being eager and using everything I can offer.