Open Source Musings The thoughts, ideas, and opinions of an open source guy

Listening to music on the Linux desktop with Clementine

An old record player

So much music, so many desktop music players, and so little time.

I’m sure that most Linux users can rattle off the names of a few music players. We’ve all tried a few (sometimes more than a few), in the hopes of finding the right one. I know I have. The closest I came to finding that music player was one called Songbird. Until it stopped working and the developers stopped showing the Linux version any love.

While I still haven’t found that music player that’s perfect for me, one that I stumbled across a while ago has made an impression. It’s called Clementine and while it’s simple, it does quite a good job.

Let’s take a look at it.

Getting Clementine

That’s simple. Just head on over to the application’s website and download it. There are versions of it for Fedora, Ubuntu, Debian Squeeze, and the source code is available. Oh, yeah, you can also get Clementine for those other two operating systems …

You should just be able to install it from the package you downloaded.

Using it

Obviously, the first thing you need to do is launch Clementine. Once it’s running, Clementine scans your /home directory for any and all music you have. While it’s doing that, Clementine sits in your system tray.

Clementine on the system tray

Double click the application’s icon on the tray. The music that Clementine finds appears in a list on the left side of its window when you click Library.

Clementine displaying a list of music

From there, it’s easy to create a playlist. Just go through the list, find the tracks that you want to add to the list, and then drag them into the main part of Clementine’s window.

Clementine's main window

You can also add a streaming media (like your favourite internet radio station) to your playlist by selecting Playlist > Add Stream. You’ll be asked for the URL of the stream and to give it a name.

Adding a stream to Clementine

Select Playlist > Save Playlist to have Clementine remember your playlist, and for you to create a new one if you want to.

Once you’ve created your playlist, just click the Play button and enjoy.

Going to the internet

You’re not stuck with just the music on your computer. Click the Internet button on left side of the window and you can search for music in a variety of locations — ranging from Google Drive to SoundCloud to Jamendo to Last.fm and Grooveshark.

Listening to music on Soundcloud with Clementine

In the example above, I searched for music by Colin Edwin (the bassist of the band Porcupine Tree) on SoundCloud.

Other features

Clementine can do a bit more, too. Like what? How about playing tracks off a media player or smartphone? I plugged an old Philips GoGear Raga player I had lying around into my laptop and then clicked the Devices button. Clementine recognized the device and scanned it for music. From there, all I had to do is double click a track to play it.

And what happens if you want to convert a file to another format – either because you prefer an open format, or you want a track (or three) in an audio format that your device can read? Select Tools > Transcode Music.

Transcoding with Clementine

From there, tell Clementine which files you want to convert. Then, select the format to which you want to convert the file or files from the Audio format list. Clementine supports:

  • Ogg FLAC
  • Ogg Vorbis
  • Speex
  • MP3
  • MP4
  • WAV
  • FLAC
  • WMA

If you want to change the quality of the resulting file(s), click the Options button. When you’re ready to go, click Start transcoding. Clementine isn’t the fastest audio converter I’ve used, but it’s not bad.

Overall, Clementine is a nice audio player. It packs just enough features and does the job of playing audio very nicely. It’s that lack of a lot of bells and whistles that attracted me to Clementine. It’s definitely a keeper.

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