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open fail

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.