Much like Windows, the Linux desktop has no shortage of great audio players. The abilities and functions of each tend to vary a bit as the needs of their user dictates. Everything from near iTune replacements down to something that resembles the Windows famed media player known as Winamp.

Best of the best – Amarok

Nothing on any other platform even begins to approach the raw power of the Amarok media player. Not even close. Scripts, add-ons, smart playlists, Amarok provides the kind of jukebox experience that actually made me want to switch to Linux full time years ago. I was using Linux back then anyway, but when I first saw everything Amarok could do…there was NO contest. The only thing lacking is access to a mainstream music store. Alternative artists are well supported here though.

Winamp fans dance – XMMS

Everything you expected from classic Winamp, you would have been found with XMMS. Despite the fact it hasn’t seen a ton of activity in recent years, it’s still around and will indeed work with PulseAudio. That’s right, you can simply add in xmms-pulse from your software repositories and you’re good to go. Because of the fact that XMMS has been dormant for so long, you will want to install XMMS2 instead. And for audio there,  xmms2-plugin-pulse will do nicely. Then comes the native clients, etc. You can see how the glory days of xmms are essentially, overly complicated. If you’re still interested, go for it. Details are here.

Not bad for the GNOME user – Rhythmbox

Audio Players For Linux
Photo by driftpattern

Ubuntu users have a real treat here in that they also have the ability to legally purchase music (of the mainstream variety, not just indie stuff) from within the software. This is a huge difference from Amarok. Designed as the GNOME jukebox app answer, Rhythmbox provides much of the same functionality as Amarok, minus its good looks and extra ability to run user created scripts. Like Amarok however, it does run its own add-ons pretty well. Smart playlists, Last.fm, among other goodies a small part of the package.

Portable media players?

Both Rhythmbox and Amarok provide support for MP3 players such as those by the big name portable vendors. This said however, when it comes to the iPods and iOS devices, things get a bit spotty. While there is a project that tries to keep up on Apple’s latest roadblock to prevent people from using these devices on Linux, other MP3 players are openly supported with Linux and their websites reflect this. You just have to shop around a bit.