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Finding a good music player for Linux is not an easy task. A few big name projects, like Amarok and Songbird, have come and gone throughout the years, but none of them have been stable enough to match the staying power of iTunesWinamp Want One Of The Simplest Desktop MP3 Players? Winamp Lite Still Exists! [Windows] Want One Of The Simplest Desktop MP3 Players? Winamp Lite Still Exists! [Windows] There are some desktop applications that suck the nostalgia right out of our hearts. mIRC maybe? Off the top of my head: AOL Instant Messenger, Paint Shop Pro, BearShare, WS_FTP, ICQ, and RealPlayer. Most of... Read More , or any of the other 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 available to non-Linux users.

Fortunately, the issue isn’t one of availability; there are dozens of music players out there in Linux land. The problem is finding the ones that are modern, feature-rich, performance-friendly, and easy to use.

I’ve done a bit of searching. Here are my findings.

Audacious

Not to be confused with Audacity, which is a well-known audio editor, Audacious is an audio player which has no relation to the former except for the fact that they’re both free, both open source, and both excellent.

This wonderful program actually got its start back in 2011 but was often overlooked in favor of big name alternatives in the past. Those giants have since fallen asleep and Audacious is the perfect tool to fill the vacuum that was left behind.

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Audacious is marked by low resource usage and a minimal interface. It’s not ugly by any means, but if you’re used to the kind of visual flash offered by modern media players, you may feel underwhelmed by this program’s simplicity.

It comes with plenty of advanced actions that are all tied to keyboard shortcuts, making it easy to do whatever you want without much effort at all. There’s also a surprising amount of customization available, considering just how simple it tries to be. As for the interface, it can be toggled between GTK Classic and Winamp.

But the best aspect of this music player has to be its plugin system, which allows for extensibility through third-party code. The community of Audacious developers isn’t all that big yet, but if you’re interested in hopping along, check out their plugin development forum.

Tomahawk

The way we use the web has changed so much in the past few years. Isn’t it about time that the way we manage our music has caught up? That’s the exact line of thinking that sparked – and continues to drive – the development of Tomahawk, a music player for the modern generation.

Music has recently shifted away from local playlists and shifted towards streamed services Which Is The Best Mobile Music Streaming Service? Which Is The Best Mobile Music Streaming Service? Online radio is picking up steam now that there’s a good bit of competition driving the technology. You might be familiar with services like Pandora and Spotify, but now that you can stream music on-the-go... Read More , which are popularly known as Internet radio What Is The Best Free Internet Radio App For Android? What Is The Best Free Internet Radio App For Android? Looking to stream music on your Android device? These Internet radio apps are a great way to do it! Read More . And if you’re like me, you don’t just stick to one or two of them; you listen to this one or that one depending on your mood, whether that means Soundcloud, Google Music, Spotify, Rdio, etc.

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And that’s exactly why Tomahawk is so awesome. Not only does it manage and play local music files like any traditional music player would, it also incorporates some of the more popular streaming services available today, thus allowing you to enjoy all of your music in one place.

The ability to connect to these various streaming sites is due to Tomahawk’s plugin system, so you can toggle those features on or off at will. Tomahawk will also watch your indicated music directories for any changes and update your library automatically.

As far as the interface, you’re either going to love it or hate it. It feels very modern, but modern in a way that’s reminiscent of the Modern style that’s been used by Windows since the Zune days. In general, though, the layout is very simple, easy to navigate, and the aesthetics are quite pleasing.

DeaDBeeF

Do not be put off by this program’s strange name! I almost overlooked DeaDBeeF because of its unconventional name but I’m glad I didn’t. Truly I wish for it to be rebranded because it’s such an awesome program and it’d be a shame if it never gained traction due to something as trivial as a name.

Long story short: if you prefer something lightweight like Foobar2000 Play Music Like An Audiophile With Foobar2000 [Windows] Play Music Like An Audiophile With Foobar2000 [Windows] Foobar2000 is the desktop music player of choice for audiophiles, tinkerers and anyone looking for a lightweight, efficient program. We have it listed on our page of the best Windows software for a reason, although... Read More , you’ll probably love this one.

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DeaDBeeF is not meant to be a music library manager. Rather, much like stanard Foobar2000 affair, you just create separate playlists that you fill up with whichever music files you want for said playlists. That’s about as simple as it could be.

However, if the out-of-the-box functionality is too basic for you, you can always expand on it through plugins. DeaDBeeF comes with a lot of built-in plugins that are disabled by default, such as a LastFM scrobbler, a global hotkey manager, and even an alternative interface.

The only downside was that DeaDBeeF did not integrate into my native desktop environment, so I couldn’t control it using the volume panel. It wasn’t a big deal for me, but it may or may not prove irritating for you, so beware.

Nuvola Player

Nuvola Player is a bit of an outlier on this list. It completely foregoes the idea of local music storage and focuses entirely on cloud-based music streaming. In that sense, it’s like Tomahawk but more specialized.

The goal, as described by the developers, is to provide Linux users with a native application that interfaces with as many streaming services as possible in order to make the user experience as clean and straightforward as possible.

linux-music-players-nuvola-player

At first glance Nuvola feels like an extremely basic web browser that loads each service – e.g. Pandora, Rdio, Google Music, etc. – as an actual webpage. Indeed, my first thought was, “Why the heck would I use this when I can just load it in my already-open browser?”

As it turns out, because Nuvola ties in with the operating system, it can be controlled directly through the desktop environment when you want to skip songs or change volume. It also has native popup notifications on track change. It’s a very niche program, but a useful one if that niche describes you.

Out of the box, Nuvola supports Amazon Cloud Player, Bandcamp, Deezer, 8tracks, Google Play Music, Grooveshark, Grooveshark Mobile, Hype Machine, Jango, Logitech Media Server, Pandora, Rdio, Spotify, and This Is My Jam.

Which Music Player is Your Favorite?

In a past life, back when I was enamored with Foobar2000’s minimalism, I would have fallen for DeaDBeeF and its surprising similarities. These days, however, I need a little bit of eye candy in addition to functionality because I’m looking for a balanced user experience, which is why I think Tomahawk is the best.

What about you? And I’m sure there are plenty of other great music players that I missed, so don’t hesitate to share your favorites with us in the comments below!

  1. Rick
    October 10, 2016 at 6:30 pm

    Surprised that VLC has not been mentioned or recommended. It plays most all audio formats, lossless and lossy, is easy to "program" and best of all, it is open source. You really should give it a try.

  2. Brad Reichel
    September 15, 2015 at 7:19 pm

    I finally left windows and the only thing I really miss is MusicBee which is perfection, but no Linux. gmusicbrowser is the closest I have found. Guayadeque seems suitable as well. Both do everything a music player/manager should and allow the layout to be modified.

  3. Sehrguey Ogoltsoff
    August 28, 2015 at 12:24 pm

    thank you for the nice lead - audacious is the thing! (after 2 tries to install a working rhythmbox)

    • Joel Lee
      September 2, 2015 at 5:35 pm

      Nice! Glad this post helped you find something you like, Sehrguey. :)

  4. Serge Pronin
    May 31, 2015 at 1:56 pm

    I'am really like Lollypop music player http://gnumdk.github.io/lollypop/

    • Micah Cowell
      July 10, 2015 at 6:24 am

      +1 to Lollypop

    • Martin Cigorraga
      August 14, 2015 at 6:22 am

      Long-time Amarok/Clementine user here, wasn't aware of this one. Thanks!

  5. seek
    May 22, 2015 at 3:39 pm

    Ive been on a search for a new player since Clemintine fuxored me and quit development.

    Ive read a ton of blogs tried everything and I have a few that arent bad but none
    have grabbed my heart I want to love my music p;layer as much as i love the music.

    Since you had Emancipator on one of your playlists im gonna give Tomahawk a try I hope its
    good cuz i listen to a ton of streaming services and it may be what im looking for.

    <<<<<<<<<<<<<SHOUT OUT TO SOMAFM.COM<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

  6. Leonardo
    May 5, 2015 at 12:00 pm

    I use mostly MPD + ncmpcpp here (or, if in the mood, one of its nice GTK clients, as for example Sonata). Nice playlist, third party scrobbling, remote control and so on.

    Anyway, I used Clementine and enjoyed much being able to stream Spotify directly from it, as well as podcast integration.

    Nice article, by the way.

  7. Alex
    April 4, 2015 at 9:09 pm

    Hi ! Thanks for this selection.
    I just want to say that you're mistaking a point (I don't know if you can say that in English , but in French, it sounds greats!). Clementine is still in active development as you can see here : https://github.com/clementine-player/Clementine/commits/master
    It's just that they make a release a year.
    But anyway, thanks for you article. And as some people says to you, give a shot at quodlibet. A good damn music player, which is highly configurable, and very lightweight

  8. Paul
    March 30, 2015 at 9:30 pm

    Cantata comes default with Manjaro distro and is a client for Music Player Daemon (MPD) http://www.musicpd.org/
    Thanks for the other suggestions, I'll try a few out.

  9. Aniruddha
    March 22, 2015 at 12:52 pm

    I prefer moc for a command line player. It has a nice interface and also has a playlist.

    • Joel
      March 22, 2015 at 9:33 pm

      MOC was mentioned by another user, but now that there are two recommendations for it, I'm really going to have to give it a shot. Looks nice for a command line player. Thanks!

  10. Tercel
    March 21, 2015 at 5:25 am

    Clementine has been my go-to for a while, but I'm going to give Tomahawk a shot. I also enjoy mps (via Github) for streaming music from time to time. It's a nifty little command line tool.

    • Joel
      March 22, 2015 at 9:32 pm

      Another Clementine user, nice. No issues with it being slightly outdated? If you do try Tomahawk, come back and tell us how it went. We'd love to hear your thoughts. :)

  11. Karlheiz
    March 17, 2015 at 6:11 pm

    I always loved the power of Amarok, but since it seems to be stopped due to lack of manpower I've been using the simple but always trustable and working VLC. When I need to spare resources because I have to work, I use MOC ( http://moc.daper.net/ ).

    BTW. Most users don't care too much about names in english since most of us are not english speakers except when we have to read or write in places like this one. So, I don't think most users really give a damn if a player is called DeadBeef or RoastedPork or whichever food sounding name, because we don't usually think in what do programs' names mean. Don't worry, if users like the software, they will use it.

    Cheers.

    • Joel
      March 20, 2015 at 11:18 pm

      It's a shame that Amarok died so soon. Regarding program names, I suppose that's true! Another example would be foobar2000, which is a really silly name but it ended up becoming really popular. If it's good, people will use it. :)

  12. Anonymous
    March 16, 2015 at 7:43 am

    Cantata (MPD client) is by far the best music player.

    • Joel
      March 20, 2015 at 11:19 pm

      I can't seem to find a link to it. Can you share one?

  13. hello-you
    March 3, 2015 at 10:37 pm

    Personally, I use (and love) Audacious.

    • Joel
      March 10, 2015 at 3:41 am

      Great choice. Audacious is a solid pick!

  14. AshenWonderland
    March 1, 2015 at 2:38 am

    I personally use cmus, since I'm a fan of lightweight command line applications.

    • Joel
      March 3, 2015 at 2:13 am

      Whoa, I'm impressed by cmus's design. I love it when terminal programs make use of the limited console space so well. Thanks for the recommendation, I'm going to give it a shot and see how I like it!

  15. John Lindgren
    February 28, 2015 at 3:02 pm

    Just one correction to make: Audacious actually started (under that name) in 2005, not 2011. As @CFWhitman said, the code dates back to 1998 or so (when it was called XMMS).

    • Joel
      March 3, 2015 at 2:11 am

      Thank you, you're correct. I went off of the website, which starts back in 2011, but according to Wikipedia the initial release was indeed back in 2005. My mistake!

  16. Eduardo
    February 28, 2015 at 2:49 am

    Thank you for recommending Tomahawk. I'm also using elementary OS, and I find that Noise gets slower when you have a lot of music.

    That problem is gone with Tomahawk. I love the simple interface, and the fact that you can connect with a lot of services.

    • Joel
      March 3, 2015 at 2:10 am

      Awesome, I'm glad that it helped! :)

  17. CFWhitman
    February 27, 2015 at 2:38 pm

    Although the Audacious fork may have started not that many years ago, its roots extend back to one of the oldest graphical players available for Linux. Audacious is a fork of Beep media player, and only started because Beep development was discontinued. Beep in turn was a fork of XMMS for Gtk 2. XMMS is a very old music player for Linux and Unix, and it was made to be an equivalent for WinAmp. I used XMMS for quite some time and ended up switching to Audacious when XMMS was dropped from most distributions after it became apparent that no further development of the original player would take place. I still use Audacious for a lot of simple playing.

    I also use DeaDBeeF, particularly on my OpenPandora palmtop/handheld. I use it in similar ways to Audacious, and it supports a lot of different sound file formats (including some odd ones that it's hard to find support for elsewhere).

    For more extensive support of a music library, I find myself using either Quod Libet or gmusicbrowser.

    Quod Libet is lightweight and supports Internet radio. It works well even on large music collections.

    gmusicbrowser is very customizable in appearance and functionality. It is not heavy, and it also works well with large collections of music.

    • Joel
      March 3, 2015 at 2:09 am

      Thanks for the history lesson. I love how open source programs can have such interesting developments as projects die, get forked, and surge back into popularity. I haven't heard of either Quod Libet or gmusicbrowser but I'm going to check them out now. Thanks!

  18. jymm
    February 25, 2015 at 10:23 pm

    My favorite is Clementine. Light, configurable easy to use.

    • Joel
      March 3, 2015 at 2:07 am

      Clementine's a good choice. I just wish it was still actively developed.

  19. Dan
    February 25, 2015 at 9:54 pm

    I use Decibel Audio Player for its simplicity and straightforward use. I just want to listen to music.

    • Joel
      March 3, 2015 at 2:07 am

      Looks like the last available version is from Sep 2011. That's a bit too outdated for me. Do you run into any issues while using it?

  20. Landis
    February 25, 2015 at 8:35 pm

    I've been a KDE user since late 1990's, I don't remember what I used in gnome before that...
    10 years ago... it was mplayer and realplayer, then Amarok and the last 5-6 years it's been VLC... they've been having too many problems of late (2014-15)
    Now. SMPlayer (based on MPV (mplayer backend))...
    if you can use MPV natavley, on it's own, it has a minimal look with a tiny frame (border) and is really nice for watching a windowed movie (video).

    • Joel
      March 3, 2015 at 2:06 am

      MPV is great for video, I agree, and SMPlayer is a great frontend for it. Just to be clear, are you saying that you use the SMPlayer/MPV combo for music as well? I've never tried that, to be honest.

  21. Kosh Nardana
    February 25, 2015 at 6:45 pm

    On Linux I actually like mpg123 for playing music. It is a command line tool that does a great job and the command switches are fairly straightforward.

    • Joel
      March 3, 2015 at 2:04 am

      Command line for music? That's fascinating! (I'm not a command line newbie but I'm not a power user either, preferring GUI when it's available.) Is it one song at a time? How does it handle playlists? I'm intrigued.

  22. Luis
    February 25, 2015 at 2:54 pm

    I use Musique on my Linux Mint box, has the prettiest interface and seems to work reasonably well with my music library.

    • Joel
      March 3, 2015 at 2:03 am

      Wow, Musique looks fantastic. I really like how clean and simple the interface is, yet at the same time it feels different from most music players. I'm going to have to give it a go now. Thanks Luis!

  23. Michael J. Tobias
    February 25, 2015 at 2:39 pm

    I use Audacious and Deadbeef on a regular basis, with Audacious taking the majority of plays. I've tried the other two and for what they are, I prefer Clementine to either. Audacious and Deadbeef are low-resource, excellent response players that I use to listen to radio and play short playlists, one-off podcasts, sample audio books, et. al.

    • Joel
      March 3, 2015 at 2:02 am

      I actually liked Clementine when I used it a few years ago but it seems like it's been out of active development for a while. (Latest version is Oct 2013.) It's interesting that you prefer it even now, but I can't fault you on that. :P

  24. Ashes
    February 25, 2015 at 2:39 pm

    I eventually switched over to Google Play for simplicity of playlist management between my computer and phone, but when I was exclusively listening to music on my computer, I always loved Guayadeque. It's not exactly pretty, but it did a wide enough range of things for me. But mostly, it's music prediction for what to play next was usually spot-on to the mood of the original songs I picked. Google's is fine, but man, Guayadeque always had my number.

    • Joel
      March 3, 2015 at 2:00 am

      I've heard good things about Guayadeque. I have to admit that the aesthetics do turn me off, but your endorsement of its "smart play mode" is making me want to give it another try!

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