There are a lot of very good open source projects out there but there are very few that can really separate itself from the rest and goes well beyond its proprietary counterparts. Songbird is one such project. Songbird is an open source media player powered by Mozilla’s XULRunner platform and developed by members who has previously worked on Winamp, Yahoo! Music Jukebox, Netscape Navigator, and Mozilla Firefox.
Whats so great about it?
Extensions – customizations – performance – features. If you like the simple pleasure of using your media players just to play music and nothing else, than perhaps songbird is not for you. Depending on the platform you install it on, packages are available for Linux, Windows and Mac OSX, Songbird will install some core add-ons which you can decide to add/remove whenever you feel like, the feature that you have come to enjoy with Firefox all these years. Add-ons like mashTape gives you extensive information about the track you are playing, like artist/band biography, photos, video (which you can watch within Songbird), reviews and news. iPod Device Support plugin will synchronize your library and playlists with ipod. Concerts will give you tickets and concert information of your favorite artists. Last.fm synchronizes playback history with your account. Apart from the default plugins, there are some 170 plugins that can greatly enhance your media player experience. My personal favorite is the LyricMaster plugin that automatically fetch lyrics for currently played song. You also have the option to choose several very nice “skins”, some that mimics features of iTunes like “Cover Flow” or choose skin to look exactly like iTunes.
Better than iTunes you say?
Better than iTunes? Yes. Replacement for iTunes? No, because of the proprietary nature of iTunes and iPods, Songbird can never fully provide the same functions you will get with iTunes while using with Apple products, which is why Songbird is yet to have support for iPhone/iPod touch. But for Linux users who can’t use iTunes, Songbird is the best option not only as an iTunes replacement but arguably the best Linux media player out there. It is also the fastest media player (compare to the functions it offers) I have tried. I was able to import my music library of 15,000+ songs in less than two minutes. It has a lot of features considering the fact that Songbird has been in development for a little less than 2 years. In comparison, iTunes was first released more than 8 years ago.
Did I mention Songbird can be used as a full blown tabbed web browser?
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