Amarok 2: Visual Changelog

[ Saturday, 24 May 2008, Bastion ]

Amarok multimedia player is one of the best programs of its kind not only for Linux but for any operating system nowadays. It has been created as a KDE component. Most people hoped to have Amarok 2.0 included in KDE 4.0, which hasn’t happened. It’s hard to predict if it finds its way into KDE 4.1 stable, but it’s still worth taking a look at the current progress of this great multimedia player


The main development goal for 1.x branch was to support a few audio engines. Due to this requirement, Amarok had to ship with separate components for xine and gstreamer engines. This solution had obvious flaws, since any small API change in any of those engines required a change in Amarok’s code. The fix for all those turned up to be Phonon, the new KDE 4 audio framework. Thanks to Phonon, Amarok 2 does not have to worry about engines support anymore, which means more time for its developers to work on actual features. Another positive side-effect is that Amarok 2 will be able to serve not only music and audio streams but also video. You should not however expect advanced features like DVD support or subtitles, but rather a very basic implementation for those who don’t want to launch a separate app just to see a video clip of their favorite band.

Vector interface

Amarok 2 like most of the KDE 4 apps uses vector graphics to render its interface. The use of SVG makes it easier to create themes. It’s actually pretty hard to follow the interface changes since there’s been a lot of them recently. Every time I launch a new version, Amarok looks different. For the time being however, Amarok looks like this:

Amarok 2

The main window has been divided into three columns (before: two):

  • On the left side we can notice familiar tabs.
  • In the middle the context view resides, which takes up the most space being a container for Plasma applets. It’s supposed to display information about the currently played track, such as its title, similar/recommended tracks, the lyrics or information about the artist.
  • On the right side, you can see the playlist. One of its innovations is the option to shrink the tracks belonging to a single record. There is also a traditional alternative, for those who don’t like the new looks of the playlist view. It’s not however identical with the one we know from the 1.x series.

Fortunately you can alter the width of each column.

Simple playlist


The menu bar has been reorganized to save space. Or something. I’m not sure if it’s the developer’s decision or it’s just because the work is in progress and not all the features are present.

Menu bar: Amarok

Menu bar: Playlist

Menu bar: Tools

Menu bar: Settings

From the known tools we have the cover manager and script manager. I haven’t noticed the audio equalizer, visualizer and the statistics, yet. I hope those features will eventually make it to the stable edition.

Script manager

Cover manager

Internet services

Except for audio streams, Amarok 2 offers a cool feature of integration with multiple Internet services. The Magnatune shop support has been there for a while. Now we have a few more options, like Jamendo, MP3Tunes, Shoutcast, OMPL and a very successful Enjoy, listen and buy DRM-free music now, straight from Amarok 2!

Internet services

Magnatune shop

Configuration options

As the traditional last part of my reviews, here are a few screenshots of the configuration options:

Configuration: General

Configuration: Playback

Configuration: On Screen Display

Configuration: Collection

Configuration: Internet Services

Configuration: Media Devices

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fold this thread FLAT'  Saturday, 24 May 2008 o godz. 5:53 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +3

Can anybody recognize the font of “Here goes release name” on the splash screen screenshot? Thanks

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fold this thread Pasi Lallinaho // emunkki  Sunday, 25 May 2008 o godz. 12:01 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +3

The font is Blue Highway from searchfreefonts. Being more specific, it’s the normal variation (second on this page: with 90% height.

fold this thread kadath  Sunday, 25 May 2008 o godz. 10:16 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

All of these superfluous features, yet still no gapless playback? No thanks.

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fold this thread HarryOne  Sunday, 25 May 2008 o godz. 11:38 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  --3

Your superfluous features are other people’s must haves. And vice-versa. For me gapless playback is far from essential.

One thing thing OSS has plenty of is music players. It seems like many developers would rather write their own player than make an existing one better.

fold this thread homercycles  Monday, 26 May 2008 o godz. 12:35 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +3

There are limitations on making existing players better. When the Amarok community responds to feature requests about improving the player window with “we’re getting rid of the player window” or “nobody uses the player window” then you’re banging your head against the wall.

When you’re dismissed as summarily as this, then of course people are going to write their own players. If you can’t play ball with a group of kids, go find a different ball game.

fold this thread homercycles  Monday, 26 May 2008 o godz. 12:32 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

Amarok just seems to be even more bloatier and mega-hungry on the screen real-estate than before. If it can’t be made to show something as simple and useful as iTunes’ mini browser (with genre, artist, album) whereby it will just continue playing the next track in the filterest list (rather than having to drag songs into the playing area all the time) then Amarok is just another sledge-hammer solution to a problem that doesn’t have to be this complicated.

Getting rid of the player window (or at least neglecting it to death) also means I’ll never use it. I’m not having that crap-big window on screen all the time, and the OSD is just an irritating poor substitute.

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fold this thread Keeblo  Monday, 26 May 2008 o godz. 4:17 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  --2

Amarok 2 is a step back for this program. Amarok on KDE3 was near perfect, they should have simply polished it more for the KDE4 release. But they are trying to re-invent the wheel. Amarok 2 has too much wasted space. Why does the progress bar need to stretch along the whole window? The Plasma applets look ugly and the whole theme is inconsistent. I really hope someone forks over the project and ports Amarok 1 to QT4.

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fold this thread lucifergr  Tuesday, 15 September 2009 o godz. 5:21 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

i was really upset wen i saw amarok2. sure its new from the scratch, but amarok close to be perfect!!

i dont like the three vertical parts, i hate the way it looks and basically, i cannot understant why did amarok have to make that huge backstep. its just a pitty…

i would like to have the option to choose the amarok layout….

the old “look” was perfect and handy. this one …NOT.

fold this thread IllNotSayIt  Monday, 26 May 2008 o godz. 4:31 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

Amarok is improving as a music-buying platform, while degrading it as a player. The devs are acting as whe only thing a person has to do in his/her life is to stare in front of Amarok all the day long listening and buying music from Magnatunes, while looking at musicians’/bands’ Wikipedia pages and other useless gadgets, as if kde4 hadn’t Plasma already.
Point said, I simply _love_ Amarok 1.4.9 and how it enables me to _manage_ my music, edit tags (libtunepimp to the rescue), reorganize them and make me feel enpowered by OSS software. It’s a shame some really nice improvements found in Amarok2 (as the faster music database lookup and Phonon integration) are sorely crippled by the bad (albeit beautiful) user interface. Sadly, for those ones who say “Amarok 1.4.9 will not vanish! Simply use it!”, it _will_ bitrot and be so ugly as a Gtk+1.0 application as the time goes.

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fold this thread dude  Monday, 26 May 2008 o godz. 9:00 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

xmms still looks good to me and plays just fine. :) using it right now to listen to my old kosmic tunes.

fold this thread phil  Monday, 26 May 2008 o godz. 4:39 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +2

Amarok can display itself in Kicker, in SuperKaramba, through a notice in chat, through a plugins, etc. It is very easy to use and powerful, but display options are not one of its weaknesses.

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fold this thread ingemar  Monday, 26 May 2008 o godz. 5:01 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  --2

Whether I click on a file name in a Krusader window or click a link on a Firefox page pointing to a .wav or a .mp3 I want that file in my loudspeakers immediately. If anything is already playing then stop that instantly. And when a file stops playing naturally then just keep quiet!

Amarok gave me that a number of versions ago but then changed behaviour to adding my clicks to a playing list and insisting on first completing playing everything previously clicked on.

So I changed to XMMS. I wonder how long that will be usable.

I don’t want my screen filled with eye-candy. All I want is one selected sound file in my loudspeakers.

Where do I go for a simple player?

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fold this thread Gary Steinert  Sunday, 22 June 2008 o godz. 2:25 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +1

For a simple player, try VLC. It plays anything you throw at it. Music, Video, DVD. You name it it plays it. And only a simple playlist will give you exactly what you want. No good if you want a media library, or visualistations, or anything fancy. But as a simple player its perfect!

Before i realised the limitations of the video player window, I was seriously considering using the underlying library for my own, more fully featured media player!

fold this thread Darkelve  Monday, 26 May 2008 o godz. 6:25 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +4

“Where do I go for a simple player?”

If existing ones do not suit you, you could always try command line tools like mpg123/mpg321 or mp3blaster and program your Krusader so it launches those when you click an mp3.

I figure it’s not that hard to do if you spend some time on it.

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fold this thread Jean-Marc Liotier  Monday, 26 May 2008 o godz. 6:28 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +3

If you are using Amarok and want a “simple player” – then you are entirely missing the point of Amarok. There are plenty of nice simple Winamp-like players out there !

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fold this thread tom-erik  Monday, 26 May 2008 o godz. 8:30 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

Why cant amarok use the darn systemfont in the gui.. I hate that large clumsy font.

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fold this thread marto  Tuesday, 27 May 2008 o godz. 1:23 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

Maybe it looks huge, but it will be polished in future. KDE 4 isnt nicely looking yet (but did it stepped back? no!)

Amarok 2 is future.

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fold this thread toim  Tuesday, 27 May 2008 o godz. 3:12 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +1

kool appearance of Amarok 2.When it’ll be released? :D

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fold this thread Ящурецца  Tuesday, 27 May 2008 o godz. 3:27 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +2


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fold this thread Скрепка  Tuesday, 27 May 2008 o godz. 8:24 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +1

Чому амароке, моке наше фсио. песпесты, риале!

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fold this thread artur wilk  Tuesday, 31 March 2009 o godz. 3:20 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +1

Why cant there be a minimal view option for Amarok 2?
It wouldnt affect users who want to have their mp3 player cover 99% of the screen and would give us…choice.

I like 1.4 but the lack of configuration options to make this a simple player for the times I want just to play a song has made me look around and try XMMS again.

All Linux programs should come with a full interface and an easy one (like you see on netbooks). You can do the most basic options with the minimalist option and that’s ok for newbies or even those who just want to do one-two things but if you want to use the full power of the software, then you go to the full mode. (or vice versa) Those that want to get more/less options should just have to click one button.

This screams of Gnome “we know what you want better than you do” atittude. Keep your Itunes/Songbird full page look if you want to but leave us the option to keep it simple.

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fold this thread Richard  Wednesday, 3 June 2009 o godz. 11:18 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

I really liked Amarok 1. I’m having trouble with Amarok 2.

The UI is quite radically different. I’m afraid I’d got pretty used to what I had before. Dragging things from the collection to the playlist. Setting up queues. Using the Random playlist most of the time with the odd song manually inserted if I wanted it. It really worked well. It also integrated with my Gnome desktop.

Now if I want to use it I’ll have to try to get Phonom set up correctly. I like the new Pulseaudio volume control. I have two sound cards, the other one connected to a radio transmitter, so sound needs to be well controlled to make sure sound for the right applications goes to the right places. PulseAudio gives me that with applications that talk to it.

Maybe I’ll get to know Amarok 2. Maybe I’ll switch players, or try to get hold of version 1 again. I’m listening to Rhythmbox at the moment.

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About the Author

Korneliusz Jarzębski

Free software enthusiast, KDE fan. Author of a popular blog: /dev/jarzebski (in Polish). Contributes to since October 2007.

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