The Banshee Music Player, an Introduction

Just another audio player or one that rocks the competition? Ken VanDine provides a tour through the features of Banshee, formely known as Sonance, a music player that is already expected to become the default player for some distributions.

 

Lack of a robust music player is something that has been a serious deficency of the Linux Desktop. My personal opinion is this is an area that will make or break Linux on the Desktop. For wide spread consumption, Linux needsgood media support. There have been some good music players, but nothing has really filled the void satisfactorily. However, now there is Banshee (formerly known as Sonance) and we are nearly there!

What is Banshee?

Banshee is a music management and playback application for GNOME. Over the course of the year a variety of high quality, highly polished, and all around “swell” Mono GNOME Desktop applications have been popping up. As with many of these apps, Banshee has a beautiful user interface and is well architected.

Features:

  • Import CDs
  • Manage your library
  • Play your music
  • Create and maintain playlists
  • Sync music with your iPod
  • Play music directly from your iPod
  • Create audio and mp3 CDs

In short, it does what you need!

Guided tour

The first time Banshee is launched, it will prompt you to import music. There are two options, “Automatic Import” and “Import Folder”. Automatic Import searches for music in your home directory and adds it to the library. Import Folder is a bit more controlled: you simply tell Banshee where to look for music.

After successfully importing your existing music, you will see your Library.

Here you can do a variety of things, including playback. Select a song and hit the play button. In your Library, you will see a variety of information about your collection, including playback statistics (when was it last played and how many times). This will come into play in a future version when “smart” play lists are available. During playback, you will notice a nice little tray icon in your notification tray. You can right click on the icon to get a list of available actions.

Next, organizing your music. In the menu, select “File->Playlist->New Playlist” (or simply Ctrl-N). You will then see a new playlist in the left panel and the name (New Playlist) will be highlighted. You can just type in your name. That’s it!

Banshee can import your music from a CD and has a nice integrated CD player. Pop in your desired CD and you will see your CD title appear in the left pane. You can simply select it and hit Play to play your Full CD.

To rip music from a CD to your music collection, simply hit the Rip button near the top right.

iPod syncing is pretty simple, plug in your iPod and you will see it appear in the left panel.

There are three ways to manage the music on your iPod.

Manually – You can browse your iPod, drag music between your library and the iPod.

Automatically sync – Automatically copies everything in your library to the iPod.

Automatic merge – All the music on your iPod that is not in your library is downloaded to your library, and all the music that is in your library and not in your iPod is uploaded to your iPod.

When the iPod is selected, you will be able to see some information about your iPod at the bottom left. Including disk usage, and some buttons (sync, properties, and eject).

And let’s not forget the snazzy About dialog (select “Help->About” from the menu).

Conclusion

Banshee has made a significant impression on me. I have been looking for something just like this for a long time. I have been limping along with a combination of Sound Juicer, GtkPod, GNOME Baker and Rhythmbox for some time. Yes, with some work I have been able to manage my tunes OK, but I can’t say it has been painless. Now with modern Linux distributions starting to use HAL (Hardware Abstraction Layer) and DBUS (message bus used by HAL and other applications), applications like Banshee can really make a difference. You will now be able to just plug your iPod in and not think about it. “It just works”, means a lot to me!

References

Many thanks to Aaron Bockover for his hard work developing Banshee and his input into this article.

Discuss this story with other readers on the GNOME forums.

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Posted on September 15, 2005, in September 2005. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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