Entertainment Linux

The Linux Spotify App is Dead (Kinda): What Can Replace It?

Matthew Hughes 09-05-2016

The year of Linux on the desktop never came, and never will. Don’t believe me? Just look at the state of proprietary software on Linux.


It’s bad. From Adobe Flash, to Skype and video games, Linux continues to get the short end of the software stick. Much like what’s happening with Microsoft’s Universal Windows Platform, applications are either being abandoned, or not getting updates in a timely fashion. One of the biggest offenders in this is Spotify.

Why Is Spotify On Linux So Bad?

While the Windows, Mac, Android and iOS versions of Spotify benefit from the attention and efforts of Spotify’s legion of software developers, Linux gets no such love. In fact, you could say that it been virtually abandoned.

According to a recent piece for Digital Trends by MakeUseOf alumni Justin Pot, Spotify continues to release a port of the shared codebase, and indeed continues to track bug reports with the Linux version. But there’s nobody working on Linux features and issues. That’s a serious problem.


Firstly, as anyone who has used it recently can confirm, the app is rife with performance and stability issues. It’s not unheard of for the app to just crash mid-song. You could also be forgiven for speculating whether there is a security vulnerability or two knocking about. Nobody is working to fix these.


But what’s perhaps worse is that Spotify has ditched any attempt at basic integration with even the most common distributions. Linux-specific features, like the Spotify tray icon, are long gone. Essentially, what it’s become is a direct port of the Windows version, with no attention paid to coherence and synergy.

So, what’s left for these jilted users? Should they continue using the desktop Linux version of Spotify, or is there a better option for them?

Alternatives To Spotify for Linux

Despite the protestations of its die-hard fans, Linux remains a niche operating system. That’s not me ripping on it, or ‘bias’. It’s just a fact. On the desktop, its userbase registers below 5%. Consequently, not many streaming services have bothered to release their ports of their desktop clients.

Take Tidal, for example. While it has a desktop client for OS X and Windows, Linux users are told to make do with their web client.



The same is also true for Gallic music titan Deezer, who are one of the largest streaming services in Continental Europe. While Windows and Mac users are first-class citizens, Linux users aren’t.

Despite that, there are alternatives. Just not that many of them.

Google Play Music

Google Play Music is available for Android and iOS, as well as through the browser. Personally speaking, I use the Android app while out-and-about. While it could certainly use a bit of polish, Google Play Music is a perfectly acceptable streaming service What Is the Best Way to Stream Music for Free on Android? There are a ton of free music-streaming apps for Android, but how are they different and which is your best option? Read More .


So, what has this got to do with Linux? Well, interestingly, a New Zealand college student has created a third-party client for Google Play music, available for Mac, Linux, and Windows. We wrote about this a couple of months ago How to Listen to Google Play Music on Linux Google Play Music has no desktop version, instead designed for mobile use. Fortunately there's an unofficial desktop player called the Google Play Music Desktop Player, available for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. Read More .


This works by piggybacking off the existing Google Play Music website, but has a handful of customizations that make it a compelling choice over the standard browser experience – from media keys, to customizable color schemes. It’s well worth consideration.

Pandora (via Pithos)

Hands up who is still mourning Last.fm Remember Last.fm? A Fresh Look at the Redesigned Music Service With a new redesign now available as an open beta, Last.fm is heading out on its own comeback tour. But is this music service worth revisiting? Read More ? Sure, it’s still around, but as a shell of its former glory.


For those with short memories, Last.fm used to offer a streaming radio service. It’d work out what music you liked, and would play you tracks it reckoned you’d enjoy. Sadly this turned out to be too expensive for the embattled company, and it stopped offering it back in 2014.

But the dream still lives on. Pandora offers a similar streaming and recommendations service in the U.S., New Zealand, and Australia. Like Spotify, the core of Pandora’s offering is a web application, which is supplemented by downloadable apps for OS X and Windows. If you’re a Linux user, you can also get a fully-featured desktop experience, thanks to Pithos. This includes notifications, media key support, and tray integration.

So, what does that leave us with?

I wasn’t kidding when I said there aren’t that many streaming services for Linux.

In the past, I’ve written about Nuvola: a kind of ‘catch-all’ streaming application which supports 14 different streaming services, including Spotify and Amazon Prime Music. But I’ve always been reticent to recommend it, due to the fact that it’s just not that polished, and because it uses a truly brain-dead way of installing itself.


There’s also the browser. Most streaming services, like Tidal, Amazon Prime Music, and Spotify, have a web interface. Since these use HTML5 What Is HTML5, And How Does It Change The Way I Browse? [MakeUseOf Explains] Over the past few years, you may have heard the term HTML5 every once in a while. Whether you know anything about web development or not, the concept can be somewhat nebulous and confusing. Obviously,... Read More , rather than proprietary frameworks like Flash (which you would probably be best avoiding Security Alert: You Need to Uninstall Flash Right Now Flash is so full of security holes and vulnerabilities, it just doesn't make sense to keep it installed anymore. Here's how to get rid of it. Read More ), you can use them on Linux.

If you want to use your media keys, you can use the Key Socket Media Keys plugin for Chrome. This supports Pandora, YouTube, Spotify, Deezer, and more.

Streaming On Linux Sucks

This is a total segue, but at the moment I’m reviewing the Mars by CrazyBaby. It’s a quirky Bluetooth speaker that actually levitates. For convenience, I’ve paired an old Android phone to it, which has Spotify installed.

If you have an old smartphone knocking about, you might just be as well using that, and connecting it to a speaker system, either through an AUX-in or Bluetooth. You could even use your TV and a Chromecast How To Make Chromecast Your Smart Media Centre At just $18, the Chromecast is an unmistakably great way to make your TV "smart", but it can feel a bit of a one-trick pony once the initial euphoria wears off. Read More . While it’s a bit more expensive, and certainly more roundabout, you might find it less frustrating than dealing with long-neglected Linux. .

Do you use any streaming services on Linux? Tell me about it in the comments below.

Image Credit: Emperor penguin by royaltystockphoto.com via Shutterstock

Related topics: Linux, Spotify, Streaming Music.

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  1. Dime
    July 3, 2017 at 3:14 pm

    I could (mostly) recommend Tidal streamed by Kodi 17.3 using Tidal2 plugin. That works very well, even with CD quality and also with MQA 96kHz. Just search for newest Tidal2 (sourceforge) and load this plugin as zip in Kodi. Just a little bit configuring (user, password, etc) and it works. Nevertheless, Kodi sucks on some points. Tried several skins but none matches my expectation perfectly (like showing actual playing time, showing Cover and titles, showing bitrate. But even the Tidal app got worser from version to version. And since Jay-Z owns this, it is full of non-worth-hearing rap music. So where is the filter to say no rap, to hip-hop, no worse musik at all? And even in the category "New Album" you will not find all new albums Tidal have. This is kind of preselected by Jay-Z. Dislike. So you have to look at other places to see what music is new. When you search in Tidal you'll find most of it.

  2. Piotr
    August 16, 2016 at 9:50 am

    I also use Spotify on my Ubuntu Desktop. It works fine without any issues :)

  3. h8br33der85
    May 22, 2016 at 6:27 am

    Maybe it's just me but I've been using Spotify on Linux for years and I haven't had any issues at all. I guess I'm just lucky.

    • Matthew Hughes
      May 30, 2016 at 7:57 pm

      I guess you are. :)

  4. Robert
    May 12, 2016 at 3:58 pm

    On my Linux, Spotify does not crash more often than opensource software. Further, Clementine player for Mac/Windows/Linux has spotify support thanks to Spotify support for 3rd party software.

  5. Fulano
    May 11, 2016 at 12:03 am

    Have you got the latest linux version at their website?


    It's the SAME version than Windows. with the same features. They updated last month and now the linux version is not beta anymore...

  6. Espen
    May 10, 2016 at 8:17 am

    Is it really that bad though? Never crashed for me, and the tray icon works...
    New features would obviously be nice

    • h8br33der85
      May 22, 2016 at 6:28 am

      Same here. I've never had any issues. Tray icon works, notifications work, doesn't crash, etc. I guess it's just us.

    • Matthew Hughes
      May 30, 2016 at 7:57 pm

      Oh god. It's a nightmare. I can't be the only one. I just can't.

      • Dirk
        April 17, 2017 at 3:17 am

        You're not. I had all the same issues. I haven't updated to the latest version yet though. Been on Windows for the last year. Looking now to switch back to Ubuntu and I remember hating Spotify.

  7. Joe
    May 9, 2016 at 7:17 pm

    Can you not just use Spotify's web app? I rarely use the desktop app on Windows because the web app seems to work just fine. Sure, there are limitations, but you can still stream with it.

    • greenit
      May 10, 2016 at 6:34 am

      Well, it's stated in the article, so...

      "There’s also the browser. Most streaming services, like Tidal, Amazon Prime Music, and Spotify, have a web interface. Since these use HTML5, rather than proprietary frameworks like Flash (which you would probably be best avoiding), you can use them on Linux."

      It's the second paragraph above the headline "Streaming On Linux Sucks". ;-)

    • Matthew Hughes
      May 30, 2016 at 7:54 pm

      Yeah. You can. I just prefer apps over web experiences.