A Rhythmbox rant.

I had a very unsatisfactory experience with Rhythmbox recently.
This is an example of why they say Open Source's biggest competitor is itself. I want to use my Ubuntu 8.04 machine as the main machine where the music in my office comes from, because my Ubuntu machine has power to spare and it's just kind of sitting there as a testing server for five people or so.
I see it as a great chance to get back into thinking and practicing FOSS-focused computing. Which is to say: I want to use Open Source tools when they're as functional as the closed/proprietary tools I have sitting on the other machines on my desktop, but not if it means I have to spend two weeks troubleshooting why something isn't working the way it was advertised-- or, in this case, why something isn't working now that was working 10 minutes ago.
I have very low tolerance for that kind of silliness. Which brings me to my point. I had a very unsatisfactory experience with Rhythmbox recently.

  1. Rhythmbox could play the few MP3s that were in my library, but most of my files were not in the library.
  2. I like whatever player I'm using to scrobble, so...
  3. I enabled the Last.FM plugin in Rhythmbox.
  4. Then, I added my main music directory to Rhythmbox.
  5. Rhythmbox asked me if I wanted to find a codec to play the music I was adding. That's strange, I thought. It can already play Mp3s. What codec could it want? But I clicked the option to go ahead and enable MP3 playback. And the machine merrily rolled along and enabled some kind of codec, as there probably are some acc's or something in there causing some trouble.
  6. Now I get a "Can't Open Stream" error when I try to play MP3s.
  7. I can, however, play mp3s in VLC and the standalone Last.FM application works just fine.
  8. The error message is neither helpful nor intuative.
  9. Fail. Fail. Fail. Fail. Fail.

I have neither the time nor the interest to troubleshoot what's wrong here. Mayhaps I'm the wrong type of user for Linux? Maybe. If the wrong type of user is the type that just wants to get some work done. But I also think that if Linux genuinely has the goal of addressing Bug #1, this kind of piddling failure has got to go away.

Screenshot-rhythmbox.png8.95 KB



For what little it's worth, I uninstalled Rhythmbox the other day and exclusively use Banshee now. It's not really significantly better or worse, but I think I prefer it *very* slightly.

to help you out, your

to help you out, your problem is that pulseaudio is not running or is somehow broke. install pavucontrol to investigate more, or there are a few 'make pulseaudio actually work' type guides on ubuntuforums



But that's not the point,

But that's not the point, right?
I didn't break it. It broke itself.
The error message did't tell me what broke, or why, or who I can contact to figure it out, or file a bug report-- should I feel so inclined. I just wanted to play Last.FM, and so I enabled it from the Add-Remove programs application. And what did work doesn't now. Horrible experience. Horrible.

That's pretty much the story of Linux, so far as I can tell.
If I'm experiencing this, I'm willing to bet most people who bought a DellBuntu machine with the intention of leaving it running 8.04.

Uh, it can't tell you

Uh, it can't tell you "PulseAudio's not running" as the error because PulseAudio doesn't *need* to be running if it can get hardware access (Ubuntu, however, configures everything to go through PulseAudio). "Cannot open stream" is correct. Would you prefer "Cannot access audio device or sound server"?

Yeah, that's exactly my point.

Dear MacKenzie:
My point, you missed it! Cannot open stream means exactly the same amount of nothing as "cannot access audio device or sound server." Nobody who expects it to "just work" has any inkling that you might think of a playing a sound file as "streaming it." From 99% of the world's perspective, I'm not streaming anything, I'm playing it from a local file.

Actually, I'll revise that first statement. At least the "cannot access audio device" option points at a possible place to start looking for a solution.

Considering that ten minutes before I installed whatever codec the machine asked me to install, my audio played just fine, the whole conversation is regrettable anyway.


The r0ad to freed0m is paved with rocks and garbage and potholes.

Those are features.... not bugs!

Actually, I've been having a

Actually, I've been having a problem with most audio players and last.fm. I'm not sure, but I remember hearing something not too long ago that developers were going to have to register for an API key to continue to access last.fm's features.