Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Amarok Music Manager

History Lesson

I am currently running Ubuntu Edgy (6.10). As stated in the previous article, I have a Creative Zen Xtra PlaysForSure (MTP) device. PlaysForSure started out as a strictly Microsoft-only thing, but then an open-source library called libmtp came into the scene.

Amarok rocks your face off.

Another Fact:
Amarok supports almost every type of portable music player. Including PlaysForSure devices.

Why I'm writing this:
I have just recently installed the latest version of Amarok from source into my Ubuntu distribution (Edgy). The latest and greatest version supports all of these portable devices, whereas the one in the Ubuntu repositories does not. To see a full feature list, visit Amarok's main site.

The rest of this article will focus on how to set up and install the latest version of Amarok from source into Ubuntu Edgy (6.10).

The next release - Feisty (7.04) - will come with a version of Amarok that will support PlaysForSure (MTP) devices.

For each of the command's given, copy and paste each line into a terminal window.

i) You must have the repositories enabled to do anything else. Note that you will need the administrator password for all of this as well.
- Click on System --> Administration --> Software Sources
- Make sure all of the check in the first tab under "Internet" are checked.

1) First we must make sure you do not already have Amarok installed.
sudo apt-get remove amarok amarok-xine

If you have previously installed amarok with checkinstall and a different package name, use Synaptic to find it and remove it.

2) Installing the necessary tools to build Amarok
*NOTE - this step will require approximately 160mb of hard disk space.
*Thanks Cigar_Jack on the correction.
sudo apt-get install build-essential checkinstall
sudo apt-get build-dep amarok

2a) Installing the latest version of libmtp from source.
- Travel to and download libmtp to your desktop.
- Right-click the archive and select "Extract here"
- Then do these commands:
sudo apt-get remove libmtp2 libmtp-dev #Thanks to oxyrosis at ubuntuforums!
cd /home/$USER/Desktop/libmtp*
sudo checkinstall #I named it libmtp-built, to avoid any problems

2b) Installing the latest version of libgpod from source.
- Travel to and download libgpod to your desktop.
- Right-click the archive and select "Extract here"
- Then do these commands:
cd /home/$USER/Desktop/libgpod*
sudo checkinstall #I named it libgpod-built for the same reason as above.

3) Download the file.
- Browse to
- Click on tarball
- Click on a local mirror.
- Create a folder on your desktop called Amarok
- Click on the file "amarok-1.x.x.tar.bz2" and save it into the folder
- Browse to the folder, right-click the file, and click on "Extract Here"

4) Install the program
- For the last command, make sure you rename the package before hitting enter the third time. Don't leave the package named as "amarok" - Ubuntu will "update" it to the older version. Instead, rename it to "amarok-built" or something different than "amarok". Just follow the on screen directions and you should be ok.

sudo chown -R $USER:$USER /home/$USER/Desktop/Amarok
cd /home/$USER/Desktop/Amarok
cd amarok*
./configure --with-libnjb --with-libmtp --with-libgpod --prefix=`kde-config --prefix`
sudo checkinstall

This how-to was written with the help of this how-to at ubuntuforums:

Linux and PlaysForSure Mp3 Players

Well, I have found myself busy to the core with class, work, church and various other commitments. Just the other day, however, I noticed how much Linux distributions - Ubuntu, my favorite - are welcoming more and more devices that used to require Windows XP.

Namely, PlaysForSure.

If you do not own an iPod, but rather have some other portable music player, odds are it is a PlaysForSure player (regardless of brand).

I happen to own one of those players. I own a Creative Zen Xtra mp3 player that was updated to the PlaysForSure protocol. When I first crossed to Ubuntu, I found myself stuck on the issue regarding music and my mp3 player. I had seen my switch to Ubuntu as a sacrifice that balanced out, even without mp3 player support. This was about a year ago.

One of the many great applications written for Linux - Gnomad - was written as a way to transfer music to and from a Creative Nomad series jukebox (before PlaysForSure). But, as times change, so did the protocol to access the devices. Once again, Linux is very good at welcoming new people with new devices. The application has since been updated to support PlaysForSure (MTP protocol) devices.

Amarok - what I regard to be the greatest music management program in existence - also has support for MTP devices (in addition to the already present iPod and iRiver devices). All you have to do now is plug in your mp3 player, and boom. It works. You don't need Windows XP SP2, Windows Media Player 11, or even iTunes to synchronize your devices. They all work in the same music player.

Although both of these programs support a PlaysForSure device, there is still room for growth. There is no "synchronize" button to send all of your music in your music library/folder to your device, but there is also a new program in development now, called MTPSync.

Written solely for PlaysForSure devices, MTPSync can take various folders that are specified in the program's settings, and analyze what is already on the portable music player, and only add the ones not present on the player.

This (much easier) support has grown only recently from the past year or so. Looking forward, this once shows how fast the open-source community is working to accommodate new users and technology, to catch up to the "standard" and then innovate new standards for all.