Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Songbird the Open Source iTunes?

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the getting-what-you-want-how-you-want-it dept.

Handhelds 226

An anonymous reader writes "Cnet has an interesting story about a company about to release an open source alternative to iTunes. Apparently, the software can be used with a multitude of music services." From the article: "Apple's iTunes is 'like Internet Explorer, if Internet Explorer could only browse Microsoft.com,' Lord said. 'We love Apple, and appreciate and thank them for setting the bar in terms of user experience. But it's inevitable that the market architecture changes as it matures.'"

cancel ×

226 comments

Roooby Rooooby ROOooo (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14336652)

Ruh Roh Rapple!!!

Mod Parent Up!!! (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14336686)

LOL ROFL!!! Seriously, now that's funny! It sucks to be Apple if this thing gains significant market share.

Re:Mod Parent Up!!! (1)

utnow (808790) | more than 8 years ago | (#14336877)

lol. do you really see that happening?

A product announcement about an as of yet undeveloped peice of software that is suppost to replace something else... it'll probably be made using some cross-system portable gui that looks like crap. It'll have to work on a million different configurations because everyone will get a vote and it'll be testy as hell.

yeah... Apple's target market is gonna eat this up...

lol

Re:Mod Parent Up!!! (1)

daniel02216 (917424) | more than 8 years ago | (#14336906)

based on much of the same underlying open-source technology as the Firefox Web browser.

Your "some cross-system portable gui" is XulRunner, which is the foundations of Firefox. Songbird will be written in XUL, Javascript, XPCOM etc., like Firefox is.

It's not the client, it's the store (4, Insightful)

Mononoke (88668) | more than 8 years ago | (#14336654)

It isn't iTunes that prevents me from "buying" from any of the other online music stores. It's the clients required by those stores that prevent me.

It's not the store, it's the licensing (4, Interesting)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 8 years ago | (#14336690)

It isn't really the clients that prevent you, it is the companies' unwillingness to open their DRM schema without prohibitive licensing costs.

On to the article:
Lord cautioned that little of this has actually been built yet. The version that will be released early next year will largely be a demonstration of how a media player can be built on top of the Mozilla technology. Most of the advanced features people now expect from modern music software will be added over the course of further development, he said.
So this is just a product announcement.
How does this all make money? It's not yet clear. The company's business model is a work in progress too, Lord said.

One possibility is selling the technology to companies that want to create their own music store, but don't want to build their own software to do it...
Nothing to see here, move along....

Songsuck (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14336706)

I'd feel more sympathy to this cause if it wasn't for the fact that all the other music stores* sell DRMed content that only works on Windows. Apple at least had the consideration to get iTunes working nicely under Windows. WMP still sucks under the Mac (typical of Microsoft though).

* - Well save for the oddball one that sells actual MP3s of some band that I've never heard of and doesn't sound that particularly good or a particular Russian one who gives no money to the artist at all.

Re:Songsuck (1)

Squalish (542159) | more than 8 years ago | (#14336847)

Minority market share adaptibility is usually greater than majority market share adaptability, the extreme being an entrenched monopoly.

IE, of COURSE Apple makes iTunes work on windows PCs, it increases their audience by 20x, whereas Microsoft making WMP work on macs increase their audience by 5%.

Re:Songsuck (0, Redundant)

laffer1 (701823) | more than 8 years ago | (#14337032)

Yes, and its great that apple supports windows and mac os. Of my seven computers, i can use iTunes on 4. Great. I don't see them running out and supporting linux, bsd or solaris though with iTunes.

The other factor is apple does not get all windows users with their iTunes support on windows. I had to upgrade my mothers 5 year old pc to xp so she could use it. (Windows ME is not supported) There are still quite a few 9x users out there who can't use iTunes.

Re:Songsuck (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14336981)

Use emusic [emusic.com] , which sells MP3s only. If you've never heard of any of the bands, then I guess I pity you because that would mean that you only like shitty britney spears/mtv crap. In which case, wtf do you care about music anyway? Go watch MTV and listen to clear channel like a good sheep.

baaaaaaaa!

Boobies! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14336655)

first post

GNAA! (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14336656)

GNAA!

Penisbird (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14336664)

Open source pornography?

Amen (5, Funny)

layer3switch (783864) | more than 8 years ago | (#14336665)

"Apple's iTunes is 'like Internet Explorer, if Internet Explorer could only browse Microsoft.com,' Lord said."

Praise the Lord!

It's official (4, Funny)

commodoresloat (172735) | more than 8 years ago | (#14336931)

The Lord goes on to say "We love Apple." Of course, us die hard Apple fanboys knew that all along.

Re:Amen (1)

cheesy9999 (750203) | more than 8 years ago | (#14337072)

They could at least have the decency of comparing iTunes to another one of Apple's products, Safari, rather than **shudder** MSIE!

Re: title (2, Interesting)

viksit (604616) | more than 8 years ago | (#14336667)

Well, its about time someone did do it. Its got immense possibilities - but how would music stores react to it? For all you know, they might (as in the case of IE) have ActiveX controls/or propreitary media formats which tell you to go and use their own software.. or activate some locks/feature constrictions which would be solved given time, but would still render the service unusable.

I remember Fairplay (or was it Playfair), the tool which allowed encoded Apple music files to be played on any MP3 player - what a ruckus that caused!

I read about this about 2 days ago though - is this is a sign that /. is falling behind the times?

Re: title (1)

siliconjunkie (413706) | more than 8 years ago | (#14336682)

IIRC:

Fairplay: Apple's DRM scheme
PlayFair: OSX tool to remove said DRM

Re: title (1)

viksit (604616) | more than 8 years ago | (#14336735)

Playfair - http://sarovar.org/forum/forum.php?forum_id=474 [sarovar.org]

I was talking about the tool itself - and I don't think its OSX only. Sarovar hosts GNU projects, and I remember seeing something about its use on Linux and *nix systems. Couldn't be bothered to google when commenting!!

Re: title (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14336774)

I read about this about 2 days ago though - is this is a sign that /. is falling behind the times?

Not at all. It takes a little bit longer for articles to pass editorial review so that we don't have such things as dupes or obvious attempts to increase a poster's AdSense revenue.

Judging by their screenshots... (3, Insightful)

Doktor Memory (237313) | more than 8 years ago | (#14336687)

...I give them about 5 minutes post-release before they are hit with the mother of all cease-and-desist notices from Apple Legal.

I know that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but come on here. At least try to make your cut-and-paste jobs a bit less obvious.

Re:Judging by their screenshots... (1)

Musteval (817324) | more than 8 years ago | (#14336701)

It's still pre-alpha. I'd expect they'll get a unique look by the release.

Re:Judging by their screenshots... (1)

penguin-collective (932038) | more than 8 years ago | (#14336707)

Given that a lot of the iTunes interface was copied from other sources as well, this would just be another testament to Apple's corporate philosophy: once we copy it, it's ours.

Re:Judging by their screenshots... (-1, Troll)

Durandal64 (658649) | more than 8 years ago | (#14336781)

Please. iTunes was and always has been a simple UI in a sea of overly cluttered WinAmp-style garbage. The only things Apple copied were having one area reserved for showing playlists and one area reserved for showing tracks. Otherwise, iTunes was totally different from any other jukebox available at the time. The single-window approach was what made it so successful.

Re:Judging by their screenshots... (1, Troll)

penguin-collective (932038) | more than 8 years ago | (#14336812)

Otherwise, iTunes was totally different from any other jukebox available at the time.

There have been hundreds of jukebox programs before iTunes; how can you say with certainty that it was "totally different" from all of them? In any case, the application domain doesn't really matter much; the UI itself is a rip-off of numerous NeXT and Smalltalk interfaces (with the NeXT interfaces themselves being a rip-off of Smalltalk).

And the thing is: I don't think there is even anything wrong about copying other people's successful interfaces. But there is something wrong about it when Apple complains about it, given that their entire company is based on taking the best ideas out of other UIs and then modifying them. And, unfortunately, Apple has been complaining a lot, throughout their corporate history, and even gone as far as suing people.

Re:Judging by their screenshots... (5, Informative)

TomHandy (578620) | more than 8 years ago | (#14337108)

That's really not fair to say that the entire company is based on taking the best ideas out of other UIs and then modifying them. Certainly they have done that, but Apple also contributed a lot of wholly original ideas and innovations that hadn't been seen before (I'm not going to recount them all here, it is discussed in other histories of GUI development, especially at Xerox PARC and Apple).

Re:Judging by their screenshots... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14337141)

> the UI itself is a rip-off of numerous NeXT and Smalltalk interfaces

Really? It reminds me more of "Lotus Notes for Music". Except for all the fancy curves and stuff, iTunes is very much a very standard looking Windows-ish DB app. (Mac & NeXT apps were tradititionally more multi-window with pallettes, etc).

Re:Judging by their screenshots... (3, Insightful)

QuantumFTL (197300) | more than 8 years ago | (#14337233)

In any case, the application domain doesn't really matter much; the UI itself is a rip-off of numerous NeXT and Smalltalk interfaces... But there is something wrong about it when Apple complains about it, given that their entire company is based on taking the best ideas out of other UIs and then modifying them.

You do know that Apple bought NeXT, don't you?

Re:Judging by their screenshots... (2, Insightful)

Durandal64 (658649) | more than 8 years ago | (#14337282)

I hate to break this to you, but Apple was the company responsible for Smalltalk, and Steve Jobs was the guy responsible for NeXT. Please explain how Jobs can rip off himself.

Re:Judging by their screenshots... (1)

bonch (38532) | more than 8 years ago | (#14337287)

the UI itself is a rip-off of numerous NeXT and Smalltalk interfaces (with the NeXT interfaces themselves being a rip-off of Smalltalk).


Apple owns NeXT, which was one of Steve Jobs' companies after leaving Apple.

Re:Judging by their screenshots... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14337018)

iTunes was and always has been a simple UI in a sea of overly cluttered WinAmp-style garbage.

What the fuck? WinAmp and friends (like xmms) are way less cluttered than, and far more simple than, iTunes. Why do you feel a need to defend Apple all the time, even over points where they are totally wrong?

I bet you love Dashboard too. Or maybe Apple's greatest invention ever, podcasting. Or RSS, which Apple also invented. Or Unix. Or KHTML. Or all of Apple's other incredible inventions which could never have been developed anywhere outside of Apple because, really that's just crazy, everyone knows that Apple innovates and everyone else copies. Really... I think different too, I promise!

Re:Judging by their screenshots... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14337222)

I think you mean "bought," not copied. Apple bought ... whatever it was called. I can't remember now, but there was a fairly crappy little MP3 player for the Mac. Apple bought it, lock stock and barrel, and turned it into iTunes.

Not copied. Bought.

He make a point of mentioning the skinability... (1)

msimm (580077) | more than 8 years ago | (#14336794)

These are prerelease screens everyones getting so hopped up about. Who are any of us to say what the later incarnations are to look like? It looks to me like he's driving the point home that while he respects iTunes innovation he feels like they've chosen lock-in over broader useablity. Understandably, but we; the users; end up losing. He's got a lot of attention with the stunt, but by no means does he A) sound like a stupid person B) is the interface tied to being iTunes-like. It makes sense to me to be a perfect jump-point but as they mention on their website this is by no means a release. Not even a beta and with the final product at least a year off I'm sure a lot will change, even if Apple sic's it lawyers on them. :)

Give credit where its due (1)

emkman (467368) | more than 8 years ago | (#14336942)

The screenshots look alot to me like Musicmatch Jukebox, which was around before iTunes and the iTMS.

Re:Give credit where its due (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14337274)

Before the iTunes store, yes. Not before iTunes. iTunes dates back to the mid-1990s.

amaroK with option to spend money (1)

schestowitz (843559) | more than 8 years ago | (#14336692)

No thank you, I already have amaroK. I get music by running wget recursively. amaroK does everything I could wish for. It even comes preinstalled with KDE ditros like SuSE.

The downside to amaroK (2, Interesting)

Shawn is an Asshole (845769) | more than 8 years ago | (#14336768)

It only works on Linux and other Unix-like systems. It does not work on Windows or the Mac (it is in fink, but audio out doesn't work making it quite useless).

Hopefully it will one day work everywhere, since it is an awesome player. IMHO, amaroK could easily take over if it worked on more platforms.

Re:The downside to amaroK (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14336782)

It only works on Linux and other Unix-like systems.

So what is the downside now?

Re:The downside to amaroK (1)

Shawn is an Asshole (845769) | more than 8 years ago | (#14336932)

The downside is that most people can't use it.

Re:The downside to amaroK (1)

sloanster (213766) | more than 8 years ago | (#14337064)

The downside is that most people can't use it.

Eh? What's stopping them then?

Re:The downside to amaroK (4, Interesting)

The Warlock (701535) | more than 8 years ago | (#14336813)

Worse, it only uses the Qt toolkit, so users of Gnome and XFCE have to either turn elsewhere or deal with it looking crappy. Since I don't use KDE, I use Quod Libet [sacredchao.net] , instead. It's a bit like Rhythmbox, except good.

Re:The downside to amaroK (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14336854)

Good, maybe you GTK zealots will go back to Windows and stop polluting Linux with your crappy desktop, crappy programs and crappy toolkit.

Re:The downside to amaroK (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14336898)

Sorry? It looks crappy because it uses QT?

What kind of comment is that? Perhaps you should get a life.

I am getting tired of idiots like you making nasty comments about other open source projects. We are all working for the same goals, what is your problem?

Posting as Anonymous Coward because I do not have a slashdot account. Nor can I be bothered to register, JUST to let you know what a pointless comment you just made.

Easy fix (3, Informative)

Shawn is an Asshole (845769) | more than 8 years ago | (#14336912)

Klearlooks theme [kde-look.org] + the Clearlooks color scheme [kde-look.org] . Not quite as nice as Clearlooks yet, but it's getting there.

Lipstick [kde-look.org] is also quite nice.

Re:Easy fix (1)

delete (514365) | more than 8 years ago | (#14337121)

Interesting, thanks for the links.

Re:The downside to amaroK (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14337011)

Either you meant to start a flame war, or else you meant to say that GNOME and XFCE users like GTK apps because they fit in with the rest of the desktop. "Look crappy" sounds like an insult, and already several Qt-fans have taken it as such.

I use GNOME, and Qt apps do look a bit jarring on my desktop. I'm happiest with GTK apps on my GNOME desktop. But I wouldn't say the Qt apps look "crappy".

Re:Actually it's amaroK's virtue (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14337190)

Since users of Gnome and XFCE together make up no more than ~25% of the Linux desktop market (I have in mind a one year old survey of a Linux Magazine), and the numbers are actually declining, this fact is negligible.

Now Guess what's taking up the other 75% and whose users are happy about this fact.

And the Qt toolkit has made amaroK possible in the first place. Written with Gtk it would still be like Rhythmbox or Banshee today or one of the other dozen half-done music players written to replace Rhythmbox.

Since your needs are obviously filled (not?), I don't understand your neeed to bash amaroK.

Re: amaroK ported soon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14337139)

amaroK will soon be ported to Windows (and I think also Mac). The Version to look for will be amaroK 2.0 which will be based on Qt 4. Should arrive at about the same time as KDE 4, which means roughly Q3/2006.

Its just an updated firefox... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14336694)

But this gets me wondering, maybe the web browser shouldn't be splitting up content? On one hand we have Google with tools like AJAX trying to bring everything together in one browsing experience (Video, maps, mail, etc.). On the other, you have extra programs like iTunes and Thunderbird. For both experiences, the kernel is having content being independent of the medium. I would say that having everything blended together is a much better internet experience. Maybe this is what Microsoft was trying to do integrating Internet Explorer into the OS? Or maybe the web browser really is going to be an operating system for the future.

A Lesson For Everyone Who Claims Anyone Can... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14336702)

This program should be a lesson for everyone who tries to claim that Apple software is nothing special with just a pretty UI skin that anyone could make.

I really hope Apple drops their hardware and migrates Cocoa to Windows and Linux.

The Microsoft and Linux APIs are so jarringly hideous and clunky it is painful to have to use for anyone who has grown up on OS X.

If you are a Windows or Linux application developer, please, if you don't have a Mac or haven't really spent time with OS X. Pick something like a button or text field AND STUDY IT. And I mean really look closely at it and nothing else. Note the timing, shading, feedback, action, EVERYTHING.

It is all there. There is no excuse for Windows and Linux to be so damn clunky in 2006. There are things that Apple nailed down TWENTY YEARS AGO that still are completely missed in non-OS X APIs/GUIs.

There is a reason people rave about the feel of OS X.

Huh? (4, Insightful)

bradleyland (798918) | more than 8 years ago | (#14336838)

The Microsoft and Linux APIs are so jarringly hideous and clunky it is painful to have to use for anyone who has grown up on OS X.

If you are a Windows or Linux application developer, please, if you don't have a Mac or haven't really spent time with OS X. Pick something like a button or text field AND STUDY IT. And I mean really look closely at it and nothing else. Note the timing, shading, feedback, action, EVERYTHING.


First, GUI != API.

API is the application programming interface; usually a collection of objects, which have propteries and methods you can use or extend or override. The API is the roadmap to these items.

As for the OS X button/text fields vs Linux & Windows button/text fields... are you serious? Study them? Timing, action? Let's get real here, it's a bitmap swap. The OS X versions have a pretty glass look to them, the Windows versions look like smooth beveled plastic, and Linux ones look however you want them to look.

I love my Mac, and I think it has the best looking operating system of the three mentioned, but I don't really see where the interface elements are better in any other regard than their outward appearance.

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14336955)

"First, GUI != API."

Gee, thanks for explaing that to...I don't know who...

"As for the OS X button/text fields vs Linux & Windows button/text fields... are you serious? Study them? Timing, action? Let's get real here, it's a bitmap swap. The OS X versions have a pretty glass look to them, the Windows versions look like smooth beveled plastic, and Linux ones look however you want them to look."

Thanks for giving a good illustration of exactly the OP was talking about.

Re:Huh? (1)

xwizbt (513040) | more than 8 years ago | (#14337164)

I think the most jarring difference is the font. Each pixel is actually a pixel, to put it bluntly. There's no sub-pixel antialiasing on any of those screenshots and it's all just painfully computerised. Yeah, I'm another MacOS fanboy, it's true, but the whole user experience looks good and it has a purpose. I can read it, for a start off...

It looks like iTunes, yeah, but it doesn't. There's no antialiasing, there's no shading, there's no thought gone into it. It looks like a very advanced version of Limewire: ugly and clunky. Where's the elegance? I know we don't need it to look pretty, but we're not talking rocket science here: it *can* look pretty and little graphical effects and quirks can actually be useful.

There's more to MacOS buttons and so on than you initially realise. A lot more.

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14337291)

You should read the Apple Human Interface Guidelines, its interesting to see, how much Apple cares about the interface besides from appaerance.

Grown up with OSX? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14336852)

How old are you? Ten? OSX has been around for what, five years? Seems like another FanBoy had his mind wiped pre OSX...

Re:A Lesson For Everyone Who Claims Anyone Can... (1)

ClamIAm (926466) | more than 8 years ago | (#14337290)

The Microsoft and Linux APIs are so jarringly hideous and clunky it is painful to have to use for anyone who has grown up on OS X.

WTF are you talking about? OS X has been around for less than 5 years! Aside from that, you don't talk about the APIs at all. You're talking about the GUI look. Note to those with mod points: please read comments before praising them.

Uh, wait a second.. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14336703)

Aren't amaroK [kde.org] and Rhythmbox [rhythmbox.org] the open source iTunes?

Re:Uh, wait a second.. (1)

c9a9t (936307) | more than 8 years ago | (#14337001)

Aren't amaroK and Rhythmbox the open source iTunes?


I thought streamtuner and xmms were the open source iTunes...

Re:Uh, wait a second.. (1)

l_bratch (865693) | more than 8 years ago | (#14337100)

xmms is nothing like iTunes.

News.Context (5, Insightful)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 8 years ago | (#14336709)

I like the box off to the left side that helps put things in context
What's new:
A five-person company called Pioneers of the Inevitable is taking aim at Apple's iTunes with music software called Songbird that's based on much of the same underlying open-source technology as the Firefox Web browser.

Bottom line:
  The first technical preview of Songbird isn't expected until early next year, but it has already stirred up a hornet's nest of online critics and supporters on blogs and even on the company's own Web site.
I'll be more impressed if they code something that isn't buggy and prone to exploits, than if they manage to one up iTunes.

Check his petigree.. (1, Redundant)

msimm (580077) | more than 8 years ago | (#14336773)

Sounds like he's got some experience aside from the mouth-piecing. Your's is pure Slashdot quality speculation/nay-saying. Forgive me for not being as impressed. We need something like this and they have something of a background. I wish them the best and I'll hold my judgement until I can noodle around with it.

Re:Check his petigree.. (1)

superpulpsicle (533373) | more than 8 years ago | (#14337209)

An open standard compatible with all mp3 players would give me a chance to retire my iPod for something potentially better.

MusicKube (5, Insightful)

Piroca (900659) | more than 8 years ago | (#14336710)


I guess that MusikCube [musikcube.com] fits better in the description of an "open source iTunes" counterpart.

Re:MusicKube (3, Informative)

rm69990 (885744) | more than 8 years ago | (#14336757)

I love Musikcube, best simple music/CD player for Windows. I wish they would port it to Linux, all the other media players on Linux feel bloated and unintuitive compared to Musikcube. No fancy, uneeded effects. Everything completely in one single window. Built-in search. Built-in CD Ripper. But it stays out of your way. All of this out of the box. I highly suggest anyone interested to try it. http://www.musikcube.com/ [musikcube.com] It is GPL too (or maybe it was BSD, don't remember, you'll have to check).

Re:MusicKube (1)

Mike Savior (802573) | more than 8 years ago | (#14336863)

By editing some sections of code and stuff like that, it's easily compiled in linux, but it won't play sound yet.

Re:MusikCube (1)

dhakbar (783117) | more than 8 years ago | (#14336868)

MusikCube rocks!

Anyone who is looking for a lightweight player for Windows should look no further. Simple, elegant, efficient.

(song)Birds of a Feather, Flock together. (5, Interesting)

maztuhblastah (745586) | more than 8 years ago | (#14336715)

Anyone remember Flock [flock.com] ? Totally magical! Will change the way you browse the web! Will shine your shoes and feed your cat!

Or not. It's essentially Firefox plus some random blog-editing tools and a "pretty" interface. Songbird, IMHO, will be much the same. So far the only feature that people like is the "URL Slurper"... which basically amounts to wget recursively. Don't get me wrong... I'm all for competition, especially when it's Open-Source vs. Closed-Source. That said, I can't see much worth getting hyped up about: the interface is nothing new (but more cluttered than iTunes), the "URL Slurper" isn't anything the world hasn't seen with wget and curl, and I think the project might be at risk legally.

The optimist in me will make sure I download and try it the first day that it's available. The pessimist reminds me that getting hyped up will make me less receptive to a good product.

Re:(song)Birds of a Feather, Flock together. (1)

nitemayr (309702) | more than 8 years ago | (#14336721)

Flock, IMHO is superior to Firefox, and seems to handle my browing habits in a very cohesive and functional manner. That being said, damn this thing has a wicked memory leak!

Re:(song)Birds of a Feather, Flock together. (2, Interesting)

maztuhblastah (745586) | more than 8 years ago | (#14336739)

I actually agree with you in that it's better than Firefox. My point was that often, these improvement forks often get overhyped to the point where, upon release people say "That's it?" and ignore them. I would love to see Songbird succeed, I really would (I love open source with a passion). I'm just a wee bit irritated when projects get promised as the "next big thing."

Re:(song)Birds of a Feather, Flock together. (1)

nitemayr (309702) | more than 8 years ago | (#14336920)

You're probably right... songbird LOOKS good, I hope it plays out as well or better than flock has (where is the next release guys?)

Looks top-notch.. (1)

msimm (580077) | more than 8 years ago | (#14336736)

Another serious piece of software coming out of the OSS community and something really needed, probably more then most people thought (myself included). I use all the services they include in their pre-release screens. A lot. I can't see how this wouldn't be a win-win. Even if Apple gets sore about it. Emusic has worked to maintain a Linux client, but its been getting pretty rough. This is a great resource that will make purchasing music simpler. Isn't that what everybody wants anyway? Labels win, artists win, users win. Only my pocket book feels any real pain, and thats pain I'd happily live with. :)

Re:Looks top-notch.. (1)

Beowabbit (306889) | more than 8 years ago | (#14337185)

Emusic has worked to maintain a Linux client, but its been getting pretty rough.
It used to be, they let you download the MP3s via the browser. (That meant I could use them on my i386 Linux box, my SPARC BSD box, my StrongARM Linux box, or my SPARC Solaris box at work.) Then they started requiring you to download their MP3s with their proprietary app, which they distributed in binary for Mac, x86 Windows, and x86 Linux (so let's hope it continues to work across a Linux upgrade, and forget using it on Solaris or BSD). I cancelled my subscription at that point. I was still in a position where I could make it work, but I no longer trusted the company and I didn't like their attitude. (If I remember correctly, they made some sort of policy change around the same time that also annoyed their customers, but I don't remember what it was.) I'd go back in a heartbeat if they started letting me just download MP3s through the browser again (or get them in some similarly ubiquitous, non-OS-dependent and non-architecture-dependent way).

iWould (1, Troll)

nodialtone (580061) | more than 8 years ago | (#14336747)

have iNamed this iThing iSongbird.

About that... (2, Insightful)

theheff (894014) | more than 8 years ago | (#14336749)

"We love Apple, and appreciate and thank them for setting the bar in terms of user experience."

Apple might want a little more than a simple "thank you"... money talks.

Skinnable baby.. (2, Insightful)

msimm (580077) | more than 8 years ago | (#14336878)

Don't get so hung up on looks. Its a browswer, look at the url-bar. Seems to me they've pushed the apple thing for a number of reasons, but there is no lock-in with the look or style of the thing. Its not even in *any* form of release at this point and it sounds to me like he's trying to generate some buzz, maybe get some developer support. I hope he does because if you look past the immediate iTunes comparisons you'll see it so much more really. He thanks Apple for showing what good design can look like, but he makes it clear (if you read the site) that this project can be so much more then just an iTune's clone.

Anyhow, its early yet. :)

Article text in case of /.'ing (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14336758)

(and posted as an AC to avoid karma whoring)

A Firefox for music?
By John Borland
Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Published: December 22, 2005, 4:00 AM PST

  If digital-music veteran Rob Lord wanted to court controversy with his new open-source start-up, he probably couldn't have done much better than to compare Apple Computer's iTunes software to Microsoft's Internet Explorer Web browser.

Lord's new five-person company, the ambitiously named Pioneers of the Inevitable, is building a piece of digital-music software called "Songbird," based on much of the same underlying open-source technology as the Firefox Web browser.

With their first technical preview expected early next year, the programmers want to create music-playing software that will work naturally with the growing number of music sites and services on the Web, instead of being focused on songs on a computer's hard drive. That's where iTunes, which plugs only into Apple's own music store, falls short, Lord argues.

Apple's iTunes is "like Internet Explorer, if Internet Explorer could only browse Microsoft.com," Lord said. "We love Apple, and appreciate and thank them for setting the bar in terms of user experience. But it's inevitable that the market architecture changes as it matures."

An Apple representative declined to comment.

It is undeniable that music software and services are moving increasingly off the hard drive and onto the Web. But if Songbird is to be the "Firefox of MP3" when it's done, it has a long way to go.

Indeed, analysts question whether a world awash in music-playing software from Apple, Microsoft, RealNetworks, Yahoo, Sony and others really needs another digital jukebox.

Among those giants, Microsoft's Media Player accounts for 45 percent of all PC music playing, Apple's iTunes captures 17 percent, and the rest fall off sharply from there, according to U.S. statistics from the NPD Group.

But even with those odds, Lord has enough of a pedigree to make the industry stop and take notice. A co-founder of the Internet Underground Music Archive, an online music site predating the MP3 boom, as well as one of the first employees at Winamp creator Nullsoft, he was most recently a product manager for the launch of Yahoo's music software and subscription service, after his last start-up, Taco Bell, was purchased by the portal.

Songbird could have a built-in audience of open-source fans to give it a good start. And don't forget, just a few years ago, who would have counted on the success of the Firefox browser? Since its first full-version release a year ago, the Mozilla Foundation's Firefox has defied skeptics and managed to grab close to 8 percent or 9 percent of the browser market, although estimates vary.

And programmers working with the Mozilla Foundation say the Songbird project has their attention.

"We're excited to see an ecosystem of companies building technology around Mozilla," said Scott MacGregor, technical lead for the Thunderbird project, an open-source e-mail reader. "It's a healthy sign for Mozilla and open source in general."

Under the microscope
Even before the software has been released, Songbird has stirred up a hornet's nest of online critics and boosters on outside blogs and even on the company's own Web site.

Screenshots posted on the company's Web site show a software application clearly modeled closely after iTunes' browsing style. The parallels drew instant ridicule from Apple loyalists, who pointed out that Apple had in fact patented software with three "panes" for browsing through a media collection.

Until the software is released even in a preview stage, it's hard to tell whether that will indeed be a problem. But Lord says that's missing the point.

  iTunes does have a good basic interface for browsing a music collection, but Songbird isn't tied to any one look, he said. It's built on technology that allows developers to change the look of the application with the same simple tools they use to write a Web page, and so will be extremely malleable.

That said, the five Pioneers of the Inevitable are a practical bunch, and will change their basic interface if it looks like there is any legal risk, he added.

Songbird's underlying programming technology is called XML User Interface Language, or XUL. Along with letting people create their own look for the software, this will allow music services or developers to write their own plug-ins, letting them add features or tap directly into their own digital-download stores.

That might mean that a listener could create a playlist that draws from his or her own hard drive, a Web-based subscription service like RealNetworks' Rhapsody, and an online music storage locker such as MP3Tunes, for example. The open-source foundation will let the software be easily ported to PC, Macintosh and Linux-based computers.

Lord cautioned that little of this has actually been built yet. The version that will be released early next year will largely be a demonstration of how a media player can be built on top of the Mozilla technology. Most of the advanced features people now expect from modern music software will be added over the course of further development, he said.

"What we've built is a user preview," Lord said. "This is meant to inspire and show the road map--and a glimpse of where we are on that road map."

How does this all make money? It's not yet clear. The company's business model is a work in progress too, Lord said.

One possibility is selling the technology to companies that want to create their own music store, but don't want to build their own software to do it. One analyst pointed to Procter & Gamble's recent release of a music service as an example.

"I can imagine Songbird as a Web interface for a brand like that," said GartnerG2 analyst Mike McGuire. "There would be interesting value there."

comparing fords to potatos (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14337204)

"Among those giants, Microsoft's Media Player accounts for 45 percent of all PC music playing, Apple's iTunes captures 17 percent, and the rest fall off sharply from there, according to U.S. statistics from the NPD Group."
So he doesn't know the difference between WMP & Quicktime?
How about comparing MS's music purchase store, music management & purchase system, to iTunes?

This won't last... (1)

sirgallihad (846850) | more than 8 years ago | (#14336764)

Their product is way too similar to that of apple's Itunes for it to not get stopped. Also, why would you bother with something like this when programs such as amarok [slashdot.org] do everything that Songbird does but better, minus the interfacing with online store. Downloading of illegal music, and ripping tracks seems to work a lot better, and be supported by a lot more than just the stores that you bought it from. Songbird's only feature is that it can interface with lots of music stores, and when most of these stores only have content for a specific player, it turns into simply a matter of "songbird is cool because it supports my player", not "songbird is cool because it lets me download songs from a huge array of music stores"

Re:This won't last... (1)

kebes (861706) | more than 8 years ago | (#14336946)

Indeed. In fact, considering that amarok (and other OSS projects) have already taken care of so much of this, the question becomes "why a whole new project?" Why not just code the parts that one needs in order to interface with various music stores and various mp3 players, and release that stuff as a library that any OSS project (such as amaraok) can interface with.

According to one of their pages: [songbirdnest.com]

We've taken xulrunner and sqlite and vlc and glued them together with some xml, javascript, and C++.

So, yes, they are aware of (and using) other OSS projects. That's good. But do we need to get used to a whole new UI? Most people already have a good music UI that they like and are comfortable with. Of greater use, as I said before, would be some plugins that any music player software could use to interface with various music stores and devices.

Ahh OSS.... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14336784)

....continuing the long tradition making inferior copies of commercial products. where is the innovation?

RIAA (0, Troll)

wcleveland (919106) | more than 8 years ago | (#14336786)

Great! Just something else for the *AA to fuss about!

Work with an existing excellent product. (4, Interesting)

B5_geek (638928) | more than 8 years ago | (#14336801)

Make an add-on for Amarok.
IMHO it is second to none when it come to managing your music collection. Imagine adding an optional Buy-Here tab with x+1 companies to buy your music from.

I have never bought music online, I never will. I would disable any tab that I saw like that in Amarok.

But my point is; Itunes is/was a good jukebox style player. iTunes has it's issues, alas it's not available natively for Linux.

Amarok excells as a music center, AND runs natively in Linux.

Take a hard look at those screenshots... (5, Interesting)

msimm (580077) | more than 8 years ago | (#14336866)

Its kind of easy to get caught up with the iTunes comparisons. But if you look hard you'll see a url-bar. Its a browser/rss feed-reader with integrated music play/download/management features. Its a damn slick idea. If you read a little bit more about it (either the CNET article or on the songbird site itself) you'll see they've got some great plans to take advantage of the Mozilla code end of things, custom music stores, easy web-based integration for individuals/start-ups/stores.

The project is ambitious. But if it succeeds, it could change the face of the web, at least the music portion of it in a way that's really benificial to us all (musicians included).

Amarok is a great project, but its approach is a a single platform media player/manager. This is a media outlet/portal, with management thrown in for excellent measure.

Of course it may never happen, or it could flop. According to the website we'll all have at least a year to wait before we can declare it anything other then an interesting project. My hat's off to them.

Hardware?? (1)

wcleveland (919106) | more than 8 years ago | (#14336809)

I am just curious as why this is in hardware? I was pretty sure I read "software" in the article...

Hopefully its efficient (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14336833)

If OpenOffice and Firefox are signs of the coding skills of most Open Source developers then I am worried. While the linux kernel seems to have high performance I don't know if this project will. The reason this is a big deal where as a browser or word processor can get away with it, is because mp3 players have to index thousand of songs and media these days. I've attempted to use mp3 players in the past that couldn't handle the load (Winamp3 for example) and I'm wondering if the open source community really wants to attempt this.

Then again I guess I don't know enough about amarok and the linux media centers which could prove that it is possible. I'm always hestitant when it comes to open source and effiency. Also the attitude of the slashdot community being that it is ran by the OSDL is to tag anything anti OSS as flame bait and troll so that is why I'm posting anymously. Just keep that in mind next time you guys get angry at commercial companies for suing when someone posts a bad review of their products.

They'll do anything to get mentioned on Slashdot (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14336848)

The words "Open Source" + (product name) + (mention of closed-source companies such as Microsoft or Apple) = guaranteed Slashdot.org news story!

Songbird? (3, Funny)

winphreak (915766) | more than 8 years ago | (#14336936)

With names like Thunderbird, Firefox, and Songbird, I think we may just run out of open source animals.

Seriously, how many dead animals will we install linux on?

Re:Songbird? (1)

polyp2000 (444682) | more than 8 years ago | (#14337123)

What about Dodo ? .....

oh no! hang on - thats a really bad idea!

Nick...

And here I thought... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14336969)

And here I thought they would expand awareness of Creative Commons licensed music and all of the netlabels that are out there.

what a bunch of B.S.

What? (1)

zbend (827907) | more than 8 years ago | (#14336971)

wait what does iTunes do that a web browser can't? Isn't the web browser, the web browser of music services? Its only purpose I can tell, is to restrict, but we dont really need a program or protocal that doesn't restrict we already have one the web browser and HTTP.

The browser restricts (3, Interesting)

poptones (653660) | more than 8 years ago | (#14337093)

With Firefox or MSIE I cannot click on a link to download an mp3 and have it play while it's downloading. I can use MS Media (yuck) to download it and play it, but then I have to "save" it somewhere. And in linux I can click on the "part" file if I know to do that or I can use wget and play it as it downloads, but those are both geeky non-easy things for newbies to do.

Having a music shopping app where you can (for example) "audition" a track at a streamable (but ugly) 32kbps then click a "buy" button and have it (and the artwork) automatically download to the proper folder and be available in your playlist immediately would be much easier than just using Firefox or IE to browse generic web pages.

Re:The browser restricts (1)

zbend (827907) | more than 8 years ago | (#14337264)

There are lots of valid points there but you can't click an mp3 and have it start playing? I do it all the time.

Re:What? (1)

muikano (934232) | more than 8 years ago | (#14337235)

You are getting it all wrong. Itunes not only browses music, it databases everything for you. Databasing music is a godsend. A strong Smart Playlist setup with boolean categories allows a) no duplicates b) fast song search and b) just clean. Plus it has podcast organization built into the system. Video too. Hell, it's a content distributor/organizer bar none. "Windows Media player has 45% of the PC music player industry..." Seriously? Ppl still use WMP to play their music? And 45%? Wow.

Re:What? (1)

zbend (827907) | more than 8 years ago | (#14337277)

Hmm, I guess I just think of database-ing (is that a word?) my music as a seperate action from purchasing it.

Okay.... (1, Flamebait)

threedognit3 (854836) | more than 8 years ago | (#14337048)

Well, for my two cents...

95 percent of the world uses mostly sites that are user friendly aka. AOL, MSN, Yahoo and Google. The *nix/open source world is for those who want to express their individualism, which is great, it's just a vast majority of the world seeks the ease of use. Unless it's extremely easy to learn, understand and use...forget about it. Sites like iTunes and those that provide these things will win...those that don't will evaporate. I use only those sites that are easy to understand and use. When I find one I e-mail it to all my friends. This is what goes on in the real world.

It seems there will always be those who will pose something new but in the end will always be difficult for 99 percent of normal people to use. Good for them, go use it, love it and be one with it...only don't go trying to make it sound as if it's something that's better than AOL, MSN, Yahoo or Google, because in the end most of the world won't find it that way. Come to grips with the world and its inhabitants...we're simple. We seek the easiest way of doing things...those that do will win our hearts, those that don't will always be on the sidelines...second string players so to speak. Rail against us if you must, in the end it will do not good. Those that provide the easiest way of doing something on the Internet will always win. That seems to be something that others don't understand and never will, always whining about...as if it means something...when in the end...it really doesn't

We're simple folk...complex in some sense but simple in most. So go do those things that excite you, make you feel as if you're finding something new when, in the end, has been thought about, beta'd and found useless by those mega-websites. AOL, MSN, Yahoo and Google who spend millions on these things. To think you can do better is what dreams are made of. Your only hope is that you will come up with something that they will want to buy...globalization...globalization...Chinanizatio n...Chinanization.

That was fast they released the final build! (1)

packslash (788926) | more than 8 years ago | (#14337049)

sweet the non alpha version of songbird is now available here [apple.com]

Oh ho! Cnet! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14337086)

Cnet is for newbies and everything on it is five months old.

As a slashdot poster I must be ultra-critical about everything despite being a stupid nerd.

bloated iTunes (0, Offtopic)

maccw (693528) | more than 8 years ago | (#14337219)

What a novel idea. No thanks.

Yawn... (1)

Zeph (91283) | more than 8 years ago | (#14337259)

From the article:

Lord cautioned that little of this has actually been built yet. The version that will be released early next year will largely be a demonstration of how a media player can be built on top of the Mozilla technology. Most of the advanced features people now expect from modern music software will be added over the course of further development, he said.

In other news, Cat Got Your Tongue Software is creating a package that will determine in advance if a user's appendix is ready to burst. With the optional Scalpel Hardware System, the software will remove the organ while the user sleeps.

"We have this great idea," a company spokesman noted, "and we have a few guys who are working out some of the details. All we know for sure is that this is going to revolutionize medicine."

John Armstrong, M.D., of the American Medical Association, refused to comment on this story.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...