April 17, 2009

Becoming a gpodder

Filed under: Linux — Chris @ 5:40 pm

Amarok mysteriously started to have problems copying video to my Nano. It would copy .mp4s, but they would show up as audio files. It would straight-up refuse to copy .m4vs, saying the track was “not playable on media device.” None of the information I could find online was helpful.

For this reason, among others (e.g., 1.4 is “unmaintained” and won’t be included in Ubuntu 9.04 (aka Jaunty), but 2.0 doesn’t even have iPod support yet), I decided to try a new approach to managing my podcasts. Luckily, gtkpod and gpodder both have 4G Nano support in the Jaunty repo and are easily backported to Intrepid using prevu (or you can just run Jaunty, which will be officially released next week).

A few complaints: the gtkpod and gpodder documentation is thin. For example, it took me a while to figure out that gtkpod can’t handle podcasts even though it prominently features a Podcasts playlist on startup. It took me another little while to figure out that gpodder does both the “podcatching” and iPod synchronizing itself (I thought I needed to set up some kind of handshake between gpodder and gtkpod, probably involving the gtkpod Podcasts playlist). Then it took me another little while to get the gpodder synchronization working correctly. It turns out that gpodder wants to have total control over the Podcasts playlist and will fail silently if you try to synchronize with a playlist created by another tool (say Amarok). It’s easy enough to clear out the playlist using gtkpod (though some episodes of This American Life had to be sacrificed) after which gpodder works fine.

But all that aside (though all that is actually a lot), gpodder has a much nicer podcast management interface than Amarok (which treated podcast feeds as a special kind of playlist, a very leaky abstraction). I’m in the market for a new Linux media player. From what I’ve seen, Songbird is not it (unless you like programs that start up, never create a window, then won’t die).


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