5 Great Alternative Linux Music Players

Damien Oh 20-08-2008

Amarok, Rhythmbox and Banshee are a few of the popular music players in Linux. They are great in features and have received plenty of good reviews. But what is unknown to many is that there are a lot of other music players for Linux which are also great in features, but are hidden in some corners of the world.


If you are willing to try something out of the box, here are 5 great alternative music players that you can use in your Linux desktop.

1. Audacious

Audacious Music Player

If you love Winamp for its small, simple and skinnable interface, then you will love Audacious for sure. Audacious is a fork of Beep Media Player and XMMS. It is small, lightweight and fully skinnable. It supports both Winamp and XMMS skin. This means that you can now port your favorite Winamp skin over and make Audacious looks exactly the same.

Behind the simple interface, there are options for you to configure your playlist, visualization, sound effects, mouse shortcut and also to install the various plugins to improve its functionality. If you are a loyal fan of Winamp, or just want something that does not take up the whole of your desktop space, then Audacious is definitely the best choice.

2. Listen Music player



At first glance, ‘Listen Music Player’ looks just like Rhythmbox, but after a using it for a while you will find it is actually better than Rhythmbox. The interface is split into three views. The panel on the extreme left is the play control and playlist. At the bottom of the left pane is the ‘dynamic’ option where you can make your player ‘smarter’ by configuring it to remove played tracks and append new tracks to the playlist. The middle panel is the navigation menu while the right panel displays the necessary information.

Listen Music Player integrates well with Using to Improve your Audiovascular Fitness Read More , ShoutCast, and can retrieve lyrics for the playing track. You can even check up the current track’s information on Wikipedia, right within the player itself.

All in all, this is a great music player with plenty of useful features.

3. Quod Libet

Quod Libet


Other than playing music, Quod Libet has a simple interface that only shows what you want to see. It has a clean interface, yet able to display the required information all in one place. At any point of time, you can choose from the ‘View’ option to get it to show either your playlist, album list, filesystem or internet radio.

It is also integrated with Ex falso, a program that allows you to add, edit and organize your MP3 metadata, to help you better manage your MP3’s. Quod Libet is not as feature-rich as Amarok or Banshee, but if you are looking for a music player where you can organize the music your way, then Quod Libet is the one for you.

4. Songbird


Songbird is a music player and a web browser. It is also a web media stream player. I hope I didn’t get you confused, but that is really what Songbird is. Built with codes from Firefox and VLC, Songbird is a desktop music player with web browsing capabilities. Like Firefox, it supports tabbed browsing and add-ons Eight Great Songbird Extensions Worth A Test Drive Read More . When you chance upon any sites with media content, it will automatically list the media files in a separate pane for easy download and/or streaming.


It is also compatible with most, or all of VLC’s features, which makes it a versatile audio/video player that can play almost every file format you throw at it.

Overall, its web browsing capabilities and its abilities to play a wide range of file formats easily makes it one of the best, if not the best media player around.

5. Decibel Audio Player


When compared to powerhouses such as Amarok, Decibel Audio Player is really a decimal of it. The basic install of Decibel does not come with anything. Yes, you heard me right, I really mean anything. It doesn’t support any visualization, album artwork, radio streaming, podcast or anything else. It does in fact do only one thing: play music. It is very useful if you just want to play your music and not be bothered or distracted by any other miscellaneous stuff.


Do you have any other favourite music players for Linux not mentioned here? Drop the link to them in the comments and tell us why you like them!

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  1. corey
    August 14, 2016 at 2:18 pm

    clementine is the best

  2. Anonymous
    October 2, 2015 at 8:45 pm

    I have to say I'm a huge big fan of rhythmbox music player, it's light weight and it syncs up all the music all I need. Plus it is still rich in the features you could ever need. And it has the plugin as well plus many others to download :) this is just my personal opinion tho. I need it to be light weight because of a crappy old laptop I installed linux onto haha. Works great.

  3. Apopas
    October 4, 2009 at 9:56 am

    Audacious is an actual audio-player. Every other are digital jukeboxes.

  4. Fred
    August 10, 2009 at 4:30 am

    Me, I've been using Music on Console (moc) for several years and am very happy with it.

  5. Monsieur Bargo
    June 17, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    I like Cynthiune.

  6. Simon
    June 7, 2009 at 5:48 am

    About 70% (guess) of the above posts recommend a previously un-posted player.

    As for me, it's a previously posted one, Decibel.
    My music is organized in folders in my filesystem, so a media library is at best redundant.
    It has a drag & drop playlist.
    It allows multiple instances by default.
    It doesn't have any required panels that are surplus to me and waste space.
    It uses native GUI style and doesn't have multiple windows.

    The only thing I'm missing is quod libet's lyrics downloader.
    I'd go for quod libet if it weren't for the crazily tiny unresizable playlist/queue panel.

  7. jens
    May 2, 2009 at 2:42 pm

    Thanks for the tip on Exaile! Its awesome!

  8. Tux
    December 16, 2008 at 9:37 am

    Thanks for that Article and all the comments. This gave me lots of new ideas!

  9. toma
    October 29, 2008 at 4:21 am

    hi guys, i would go with songbird which looks serves my main requirements..i.e looks cool, plays both audio n video..
    however i cant seem to get any records/packages on it from the web..

    root@tnjuguna:~# apt-cache showpkg songbird
    W: Unable to locate package songbird

    root@tnjuguna:~# apt-get install -y songbird
    Reading package lists... Done
    Building dependency tree
    Reading state information... Done
    E: Couldn't find package songbird

  10. Getting Started with Linux
    October 13, 2008 at 6:34 pm

    Great! I posted some of those audio players on my linux blog.

    Another player I can suggest is Xfmedia , made for XFce but it's terribly fast and lightweight.

  11. Bored Quiz
    August 25, 2008 at 2:42 pm

    Isn't playing music on linux really just a joke? You know the kind of joke where even the people who write the applications think it is funny that anyone would go through the hassle of using them.

  12. Diabolic Preacher
    August 25, 2008 at 7:33 am

    No KDE native options, besides JuK or Amarok. Something light like audacious or listen would be nice...but I don't see much QT GUI interfaces here.

  13. Chris Lees
    August 24, 2008 at 5:29 am

    Just to add to my comment, if you are running Ubuntu Hardy you also need libsox-fmt-all installed in order to actually play anything with Play :-)

  14. Chris Lees
    August 24, 2008 at 5:20 am

    You think Audacious is lightweight with a simple interface? You should check out Play:

    sudo apt-get install sox
    play "Britney_Spears-Baby_One_More_Time.mp3"

    It doesn't support CD ripping,, Wikipedia searching, skinning, visualisation, music management, Shoutcast, Pidgin status messages, or plugins; but it's certainly lightweight with a simple interface, and it's also an overlooked music player!

  15. disconnect
    August 23, 2008 at 1:07 pm

    I recently switched to ubuntu and the one app i have been missing is Winamp.

    Wow, Audacious is identical! Thanks for this.

    Now i'm hoping that a future update of this will allow me to dock and hide it to the top. :)

    Thanks again

  16. design
    August 23, 2008 at 6:43 am

    If you use Linux and fancy a change of music player, then try one of these.
    I reccomend Songbird simply because of it s ability to play just about every type of audio file known to man. Also it looks pretty cool on my desktop:)

  17. Tobias
    August 23, 2008 at 3:51 am

    audacious still sucks, xmms and exaile rule the world!

  18. bytor4232
    August 22, 2008 at 11:55 pm

    My favorite right now is xfmedia. Its part of the xfce project, and integrates nicely with the panel. It makes xmms, audacious, and winamp look heavy, yet it just works. I love it.

  19. steve Novick
    August 22, 2008 at 4:01 pm

    I vote for Listen music player. It's fast enough and easy to use. My favorite feature is the dynamic playlist; the developer uses a really great algorithm to choose the next song. I have a Linux box with Listen and a Mac with iTunes and I think that Listen beats the pants off of iTunes!

  20. Cosay Nold
    August 22, 2008 at 8:09 am

    Personally, I use mpg123. It is being developed again and it is very light.

  21. gogles
    August 22, 2008 at 7:46 am

    Check out Goggles, it has all the basic stuff but the biggest advantage is it's speed (and simplicity). it uses fox toolkit and it's extremly fast.

  22. luthors_lex
    August 21, 2008 at 6:55 pm

    madplay mpg321 cplay mplayer xmms!

  23. busta
    August 21, 2008 at 3:22 pm

    xmms !

  24. zmjjmz
    August 21, 2008 at 2:08 pm

    I use cplay, which is a great CLI player.
    mp3blaster is a nice ncurses CLI player too.
    (Among the CLI players, there's also cmus, and some others that I forget)

    • Mackenzie
      August 28, 2008 at 1:18 pm

      Aw, no love for aplay? ;)

  25. kenji
    August 21, 2008 at 7:54 am

    I like GMusicBrowser. It shows a great potential as a foobar2000 on Linux.

  26. tim
    August 21, 2008 at 7:30 am

    decibel audio player is the best. New version is out which includes ablum art support.

  27. jf
    August 21, 2008 at 7:23 am

    if you want to try a command line player, try mpg123

    if you prefer to have an ncurses based interface, check out pytone.

  28. psychic readings
    August 21, 2008 at 6:42 am

    Audacious looking interesting indiddly dee!

  29. troozers
    August 21, 2008 at 6:25 am

    Why does nobody ever mention Exaile? This is my linux music player of choice, which is expandable via plugins, with integration into nautilus, pidgin, etc.

    • Mackenzie
      August 22, 2008 at 9:33 am

      I love Exaile. The plugins that rearrange it so it stops having Amarok's awful UI are great. And it supports shuffle in the Play It Now (or whatever you want to call it) unlike Banshee and Rhythmbox which make it Play Queue and so you can't shuffle it. Have to make a playlist, add songs, shuffle, delete playlist, no guarantees it won't repeat...bleh. It also, unlike Banshee, can monitor directories *properly*. It doesn't have Banshee 1.0's amazing support though. Nothing does.

    • phantom
      November 27, 2009 at 10:58 am

      Its very buggy, and very slow... I would recommend running itunes before this POS

    August 21, 2008 at 5:25 am

    I am voting for Songbird. For the name and the look ;-)

  31. stanger192
    August 21, 2008 at 4:47 am

    gmusicbrowser is my fav desktop music player. it can display large album art icon, which is a big one for me,. No other music players have anything like this on linux (except xmbc, but ill get to that) gmusicbrowser is really customizeable, in every aspect. its only downfall is its inability to play certain formats (mp4 i think) it also intergrates into gnome well and has lyrics support.

    if ur after a media player with more flash u cant go past xbmc. originally for the xbox, now its been ported to linux and other platforms. bonus is it play videos n display pics to (gvery well i might add) its a really awesome app getting better all the time. slick ui with 3d graphics (cover flow rocks). loads of viualisations..downloads album + movie info from the net (including covers, info etc). the list goes on. the only reason i dont use it as my main media player on my pc is because it doesnt intergrate into gnome at all(but does have excellent independent keyboard controls) + plus it has issues with compiz enabled thanks to the great drivers from ati

    i wish i could post a pic of gmusic browser coz if u like browsing ur albums by album art then ull love this media player!!

    • corney91
      August 22, 2008 at 3:46 pm

      A big +1 for gmusicbrowser
      And thanks for pointing out xbmc - I'll check it out :)

  32. Vincent
    August 21, 2008 at 4:33 am

    Why didn't you mention MPD, one of the most versatile audio players on linux. And my favourite:) I love the fact it doesn't stop playing if i have to restart x <3

  33. erichansa
    August 21, 2008 at 4:26 am

    I love Audacious. It's a little buggy, and you need to install your own equalizer presets (at least in Ubuntu). But once configured, is smooth as butter. It's my default alarm clock, using a playlist to wake me up.

  34. Tobi
    August 21, 2008 at 3:33 am

    Thanks for including audacious. That player gets far to little attention.

  35. Azim
    August 21, 2008 at 3:09 am

    I am voting for Audacious. The minimalist look does it all for me.

  36. Ian Hutchinson
    August 20, 2008 at 9:19 pm

    Banshees good. Has a layout similar to iTunes so I felt right at home, but its got a couple more features that sets it aside.

  37. Andrew Min
    August 20, 2008 at 6:03 pm

    One complaint: all are GTK-based. Why? Why not include, for example, JuK? Or SMPlayer? Or KPlayer?

    • Damien Oh
      August 20, 2008 at 8:57 pm

      Songbird is not GTK based. And there is a KDE version for Audacious. So it is not true that all the music players listed here are GTk-based

  38. housetier
    August 20, 2008 at 5:34 pm

    I use mpd to play music and sonata to control the player. This works very well for radio streams.

    Both are very simple, and that is what I need.

    • Tommy
      August 22, 2008 at 5:29 pm

      Yes, I use the same applications. What a great combo. I also have phpMp2 installed, so I can control my music from any PC through a browser. You can do great things that way if you have icecast running. But for me, the best features of mpd are:
      - it keeps on playing when you nuke X, and
      - it even continues playback after a FULL reboot
      Now how cool is that :-)