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Nearly every article about music players for Linux 4 Linux Music Players That Deserve Your Attention Now 4 Linux Music Players That Deserve Your Attention Now Which Linux music player is the best? We compare four excellent music players you may not know about. Read More starts with an observation that there are “so many” of them. And it’s true – if you’re a Linux user, you’ve probably noticed they come in all shapes and sizes, from iTunes alternatives Top 6 Ways To Get Your iTunes Experience On Linux Top 6 Ways To Get Your iTunes Experience On Linux Switched to Linux and want to access your iTunes library? It's not as simple as you may think, but there are several strong iTunes alternatives that you can switch to offering a similar experience. Read More and feature-packed media organizers Control The Music Your Way With Amarok [Linux] Control The Music Your Way With Amarok [Linux] Music players come a dime a dozen on any operating system, and it's easy to lose sight of those that are actually worth something. Amarok is probably one of the most feature-rich music players I've... Read More to simple, lightweight music apps.

Speaking of lightweight, have you heard of Pragha? What about Yarock? Does Qomp sound familiar? Those three names refer to three (relatively) new music players for Linux. We know it can be hard to choose a single app from a myriad of options, so here we’ll help you decide whether any of these apps is worth your time.

Theory: What Is a Lightweight Music Player?

Before we examine the features of our new apps, let us make sure we’re on the same page when it comes to defining a lightweight music player. Fellow MakeUseOf writer Joel provided a sensible explanation in his round-up of music players 5 Lightweight Music Players That Don’t Sacrifice Features 5 Lightweight Music Players That Don’t Sacrifice Features For some time, I have been searching for the best free music players out there. Time and time again, I find myself coming back to my tried and trusty Foobar2000, but every once in a... Read More two years ago:

Let me first define what I mean by lightweight: good performance even on older systems, does not suck up loads of CPU while running, and requires no more than 75 MB of RAM.

I would also include the total installed size of the app on your hard drive, but other than that, this definition is excellent. Many other attempts at defining a lightweight app fall into the trap of being too specific as they reflect personal preferences of their authors. In the case of our definition, all the factors are easily measurable on any system. You can check the CPU load, monitor RAM usage GKrellM - System Monitor Tool with Tons of Great Plugins GKrellM - System Monitor Tool with Tons of Great Plugins Read More and see how well the app performs, without having someone else try to convince you that the app is “really light” on system resources.

lightweight-players-linux-system-monitor

Conflating the terms is another common mistake. “Lightweight” doesn’t have to mean “minimalistic” or “bare-bones”. Music apps that don’t do much more than just play music do have their userbase. However, when an average user searches for a lightweight music player Need A Lightweight Music Player Without Sacrificing Features? Clementine! [Cross-Platform] Need A Lightweight Music Player Without Sacrificing Features? Clementine! [Cross-Platform] Sometimes you don’t really know what you want until you’re holding it in your hands. There are not-so-resource-intensive music players out there that are bland and there are monster RAM hogs that provide tons of... Read More , they’re usually looking for an app that works smoothly yet doesn’t give up on features. If you want the best of both worlds (performance and functionality), music players with a modular approach offer an ideal solution. They rely on plugins for the majority of their features, which means you can turn off anything you don’t need and make the app lighter.

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You might wonder why would anyone want a lightweight music player in the first place, since computers these days have all the power you need and then some. Several scenarios are possible; first off, not everyone can afford a high-end computer or an upgrade for their current setup. It’s also a common practice to revive an old computer with Linux Bodhi Linux Is Beautiful & Works On Very Old Computers [Linux] Bodhi Linux Is Beautiful & Works On Very Old Computers [Linux] Try a lightweight, beautiful Linux distro that works on very old hardware. Bodhi Linux can run on processors with only 300 mhz so imagine how well it will work on your machine. With the Enlightenment desktop... Read More , in which case you’ll need all the lightweight apps you can get. Whatever your situation might be, if you’re determined to use such an app, here’s some advice on how to find the right one.

Methodology: How to Choose a Lightweight Music Player?

When we set out to find new software The Linux User's Toolkit for Discovering New Apps The Linux User's Toolkit for Discovering New Apps Installing Linux is like checking into an all-inclusive resort. Hardware works perfectly, and you get an impressive selection of pre-installed software. But what if you want to try out some new Linux software? Read More , we often decide which app to install without any special preparations. However, it might be useful to keep a list of desired features that you can quickly consult when comparing and trying out new apps. Use your favorite note-taking app Oak: A Note Taking Web Application That Saves Locally In Your Browser Oak: A Note Taking Web Application That Saves Locally In Your Browser Read More or just a piece of paper and organize your priorities.

What features are essential to you? Which ones can you do without? Establish your own criteria and then simply eliminate the apps that don’t satisfy them. Here are some categorized suggestions on what you should consider.

Pre-Installation Concerns

  • Is the app available in a repository, or do you have to compile it yourself?
  • How many dependencies does it have?
  • Is it based on the default widget toolkit (Qt or GTK) of your DE, or does it require a lot of packages from another DE?

Performance

  • Is the app light on system resources?
  • How much RAM does it use while idle, and how much when it’s playing music? What about CPU usage?
  • Where and how does the app store information about your music library?
  • How quickly does it load and scan your music library?

Basic Features

  • Which file formats does the app support?
  • Can it import playlists from other music players?
  • Does it support smart/dynamic playlists?
  • Can you search for music and sort the results?
  • Does the app offer shuffle, randomize, and repeat options in playback mode?

Extras

  • Does the app support online services like Last.fm, SoundCloud, and Spotify?
  • Does it have an equalizer?
  • What about ReplayGain and gapless playback?
  • Does it let you listen to Internet radio stations and podcasts?
  • Can the app perform audio conversion, MP3 tagging, or CD ripping?

Interface and User Experience

  • Can the app display album art, song lyrics, and artist info?
  • Is the interface easy to configure and customize?
  • Does it support skins? Can you switch between standard and mini player modes?
  • What about navigation – is it intuitive, traditional, or unconventional?
  • Does the app feel responsive and snappy?

Of course, the most reliable way to get the answers to all these questions is to install the app and try it out yourself. Still, you might not have the time or a particular desire to test every music app that’s out there, which is understandable.

In that case, turn to online sources. Get recommendations from other users and read their experiences. Visit the official websites of different music players 5 Great Alternative Linux Music Players 5 Great Alternative Linux Music Players Read More and compare their features to the ones on your wishlist. Last but not least, read reviews: if they’re detailed enough, they’ll spare you the trouble, and you’ll grasp the general look & feel of the app from the screenshots.

As an exercise, pick the best app based on the following descriptions of three lightweight music players for Linux.

Practice: Pragha vs Qomp vs Yarock

Pragha

A descendant of a discontinued music player called Consonance, Pragha looks fairly simple, but offers plenty of features. The interface is traditional, reminiscent of a file manager, with panels which you can toggle and move around to create different layouts.

lightweight-players-linux-pragha

Pragha can manage your music library, and you don’t have to keep all your music in one folder because it lets you add multiple folders as library sources. It can import M3U, XSPF, PLS and WAX playlists which you can edit, save, search, and crop. There’s an equalizer and a tag editor, as well as statistics about your music library. Pragha can fetch lyrics and artist info, display album art, and manage music on removable devices. You can also define custom keyboard shortcuts and activate Last.fm scrobbling.

Pragha is the only GTK-based app of the three, and most of its functionality is provided by plugins which you can disable at will. This makes it a great choice for users who want a lightweight player with a familiar interface and a personalized set of features.

Qomp

Qomp stands for Quick Online Music Player. Although still in beta, it already looks promising and works stable enough for everyday use. Sadly, the interface is not visually attractive, and it relies on icons instead of menus, so it might not be immediately clear what the options are.

lightweight-players-linux-qomp

Still, the basic set of features is present: you can save playlists, create custom keyboard shortcuts, scrobble to Last.fm, and stream music directly from an URL. Like Pragha, Qomp also draws its power from plugins, though the selection here is slightly less impressive. Qomp should be able to stream music from three Russian services, but this doesn’t always work as advertised.

lightweight-players-linux-qomp-plugins

Qomp could be a good choice for undemanding users who don’t want to go beyond the basics. They’ll get a fast and simple Qt music player that delivers the tunes in a retro package.

Yarock

Yarock is the most modern-looking music player among the apps we’re comparing. It has a bright, spacious interface that you can customize by changing the accent color. There are several different layouts and sorting options for your playlists and music library, and Yarock is clearly focused on album art and other visual goodies.

lightweight-players-linux-yarock-coverview

Navigation, however, is not as crystal-clear. There are icons on the left that lead you to Context (info on what’s currently playing), Dashboard (shows stats about your library and provides quick access to top rated, most played, and favorited music), and File Browser (from which you can access music anywhere on your system). Yarock takes some time to get used to, but if you’ve tried Tomahawk Use Too Many Music Services? Consolidate Your Music With Open-Source Social Player Tomahawk [Cross-Platform] Use Too Many Music Services? Consolidate Your Music With Open-Source Social Player Tomahawk [Cross-Platform] Some users may wonder whether they should stick with music streaming services and ditch downloading songs to their local drives, or simply rely on the streaming options, because let’s face it, music streaming services are... Read More or Atraci Atraci Offers 60 Millions Songs For Free Without Ads Atraci Offers 60 Millions Songs For Free Without Ads Can't find a particular song on Spotify or Rdio? Try Atraci, a Windows, Mac and Linux music player powered by YouTube with no ads and no need to sign up for an account. Read More , you should be familiar with the look and feel of this “new generation” of music players.

lightweight-players-linux-yarock-settings

Yarock lets you tweak quite a lot of its settings, and some of the features worth mentioning include an equalizer, gapless playback, ReplayGain, custom lyric sources, Last.fm scrobbling, adding your own radio streams or connecting to TuneIn, Shoutcast and Dirble, downloading missing album art, creating smart playlists, and building a music library from multiple folder sources.

This interesting Qt-based player will appeal to users who like the features that Pragha has, but dislike its conventional interface. Yarock has enough power to manage large music collections, and looks good enough that you’ll want to keep it maximized on your Linux desktop.

Now it’s your turn: which music player do you like the most—Pragha, Yarock, or Qomp? Would you consider using any of them? Can you think of some other tips for choosing a music player that we should have included here? Tell us about your favorite lightweight music apps in the comments, and let’s have a fun discussion!

  1. kashu
    April 27, 2016 at 10:49 pm

    BeaDBeeF is my best choice. https://github.com/Alexey-Yakovenko/deadbeef

  2. Matthias Schuster
    August 26, 2015 at 3:19 pm

    Hi there :)

    Cantata, is another very fine qt music player: https://github.com/cdrummond/cantata

    By the way: Thank you very much for the qt focus in this article, this toolkit is still to less present in the press, imho.

    I read, that you love KDE, so i want to make you a gift: ROSA and KaOS

    These both distros offer in my expirience the most useable KDE implementation.

    Thanks you very much; Shalok Shalom

  3. Ivana Isadora Devcic
    July 24, 2015 at 3:51 am

    Hi William and Michael; first off, thank you for reading and commenting! :)

    I'm afraid I can't give an unbiased evaluation of Audacious because it was the first music player I've ever used on Linux, and I still love it. I guess the answer depends on what exactly you mean by "better". In this case, I would (as objectively as possible :)) rate it above Qomp and maybe even Yarock, but Pragha probably offers more than Audacious while remaining sufficiently lightweight.

  4. William Vasquez
    July 22, 2015 at 8:34 pm

    My question also, Michael. Audacious is lightweight; comes already installed most of the time; easy to use; and my music sounds great. I used to use Winamp in my Windows days, and there is a skin that simulates the very minimum version that would sit on my desktop and not bog down looking for album art; searching for artist bios; or buffering between tracks of CD play back.

  5. Michael J. Tobias
    July 22, 2015 at 2:30 pm

    Any of these better than Audacious?

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