Songbird Leaving Linux Behind

For many vendors, Linux support — if it exists at all — seems to be an afterthought. Skype, Adobe, certain video cards, and quite a few other proprietary offerings all come to mind as examples of second-class Linux support. As frustrating as those cases are, though, when the snub comes from another Open Source project, it's particularly disheartening.

One such snub came earlier this week from the Open Source Songbird media player. In a post to the company's blog on Friday, Engineering VP Georges Auberger announced that the player's Linux support will be discontinued, in order to "stay very focused on a narrow set of priorities." He described the decision as "one of the most painful decisions in the history of the company."

The move comes just weeks before the company is scheduled to release its much-anticipated new version, designated "NOFX". According to Auberger, some users began to notice the Linux version of the product had "fallen behind," leading to "heated, but healthy debate internally about how to prioritize the development hopper." The outcome of that debate, apparently, was that Linux users are "some of the most passionate, do some killer development, and always provide tremendous input as to whether we’re on the right path" — and also aparrently, that they're expendable.

Interestingly, the project describes itself as having "the vision of delivering a free and open media player that works with all modern web services, and across the newest generation of media players and smart phones." Indeed, its list of officially-supported devices includes a number of the most popular handsets — all of which run Linux. How the loss of Linux support will affect this vision — and support for these devices — remains to be seen.

Equally interesting is the timing of the move, which comes just three months after consumer electronics giant Philips inked a deal with the company to ship a private-label version of Songbird with its GoGear music players. Though surely a matter of coincidence, Philips Songbird is available for Windows and Mac — but not Linux.

Auberger's post includes much feather-ruffling about dedication to Linux — "we can’t stand to see our Linux product be anything less than outstanding." It also promises to graciously make available to the community a wholly untested and feature-deprived developer version which the company will be maintaining for use by its in-house developers who use Linux. The fact that even its own staff are being treated as fourth-rate users speaks volumes about just how narrow its priorities are.


Justin Ryan is a Contributing Editor for Linux Journal.


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Can't someone just pick up

Anonymous's picture

Can't someone just pick up the source code and keep it going?

Songbird is ok, and most

Anonymous's picture

Songbird is ok, and most importantly cross-platform. I use xp and ubuntu, having the same program is just easier. I can't find another good cp replacement.

'This add-on is no longer

Anonymous's picture

'This add-on is no longer developed or supported by the Songbird development team. It may or may not work for you. The code is open source, and we welcome any further development on it by the Songbird community.'

You know what this comment stands for? ..iPod support. Yeah right. Another wise decision. Fits very well. I have recommended this player to some Windows and Mac users, as I do often for Open Source stuff. Well, my support for this eternal beta also ends.

Come on, nobody uses this

Anonymous's picture

Come on, nobody uses this crippled software, the few that does are linux users that don't know amarok yet, without a Linux version it will vanish in no time...

Not very good

Anonymous's picture

Songbird was never very good anyway.

I remember the pronouncements about how great it was gonna be. (I was excited about it's development and followed it eagerly)

But in the end it never was as good as was promised.

I couldn't wait for it to come out way back when, but when it came out it didn't work. Or worse it worked very very badly and crashed all the time.

I gave Songbird lots of chances over the years, but it would just never work.

I won't be sad to see it go.


Treah's picture

I always find it amusing to think that an open-source project that says it wont support Linux. I can understand them going to another open source platform but they are not. Who exactly is going to continue to contribute code to them.... As for the other media players ive pretty much stuck to the XMMS <-- The old one not XMMS2 and Mplayer. Mplayer tho its Gui is a bit buggy really clobbers them all in terms of file support among other things. I have tried some of the others and they have there advantages but mostly they are littered with too many dependencies or just plain bad. The main reason I don't use XMMS2 is they went to this confusing server client system rather then just sticking with a simple player with little dependencies and ease of use.

This is also the first time I have even heard of songbird so they must have not been very popular to begin with.

SongBird? Never used it...

Jerry McBride's picture

So one small company drops linux support? Forget them... Nothing personal, but when you have the likes of VLC, AUDACIOUS, XMMS2, AMAROK, etc... It's not a real loss...


---- Jerry McBride


Anonymous's picture

y'all are lamenting crap that doesn't matter. that they've dropped linux proves the whole point. i can't believe this is "news"

They're only dropping

Anonymous's picture

They're only dropping official support. It's n ot the end of the world.
Songbird is open source.

Tin foil hat time

Anonymous's picture

I agree with smotsie: it's weird how many "major players" are trying to shut out linux and open source. I think they've noticed -- what the general public hasn't noticed yet -- that some linuxen really are at least as easy to use as windows.

From there it's not a long hop to realizing that if lots of people did adopt open source, then bang! goes the major players' ability to control their revenue streams.

Together with that, the number of Linux users doubled some time recently. (From less than 1% to nearly 3% isn't it? Going by the famous slide from Microsoft, maybe as many as 6%.)

It sure looks like they wanted to stomp on it before it hit double digits, and everybody knew somebody who could do anything they wanted, never got viruses, and saved tons of money. The most expensive ad campaigns in the world would be powerless then.

Amarok it is...

tracker1's picture

To be honest, I'm pretty much WinAMP on Windows, and Amarok on Linux. I like gnome, but imho Amarok is a much nicer music player than many of the alternatives on *nix. I had considered Songbird a couple of times, simply because I like being able to easily migrate between platforms (Linux, Mac OSX and Linux). The media player(s) I use are the biggest shortcoming, and Songbird did fill that gap (weakly). I won't miss it, it is still disappointing.

Michael J. Ryan -

Hmmm ..

Spc's picture

I do believe that good media player should do only one thing only -PLAY THE MUSIC - rest is irrelevent, so i really dont like Rythmbox/Amarok style apps which try to cram as much crap as possible into music players and most of these features have nothing to do with playing anything.

Banshee is MONO based so basically it doesn't exist.

Just my two cents...

El Perro Loco's picture

Sorry, folks, but I have to agree with 'Spc': those bloated "players" are bad in many ways. First, bloating (à la Konqueror) usually makes a piece of software suboptimal in several aspects, difficult to learn and prone to bugs. A music player has to do only one thing, and do it well: play music. That's it. Keep the user interface simple and to the point; don't make it a distraction.

I gather the jokes about Rip Van Winkle and the nursing home come from people who 1) only work with the Linux desktop and 2) are not vary familiar with the Unix philosophy. Although the sarcasm/irony/whatever is fine, I think it is slightly misplaced. Well, a little in bad taste, too. But who am I to say?

Finally, on the topic of this post (Songbird): I don't remember having ever read or heard any compliments to it. Apparently, Songbird going away from Linux is, in itself, a non-event: nobody (or almost nobody) will miss it. On the other hand, though, it is sad to see the "follow-the-money" attitude (as another commentator put it) in the minds of (some of) its maintainers... Should I call it openly "venality"?

Ah, last point: I also agree that "Banshee is MONO based so basically it doesn't exist."

Et tu, Brute?

Anonymous's picture

Dear Brutus,
Thanks for expounding on your Hate with techno-speak and Dime-Store Philo Mumbo Jumbo. You also managed to set yourself up as an Arbiter of Taste. Good on you for your pseudo-intellectual wordsmith.

What you didn't do was to discern that the intended "humor" was to quell a disturbing set of trends that began in the US and is spreading abroad.

1- Americans simply cannot tell you what they like, only what they do not like (see point #2). The OP couldn't get to the subject [Songbird] for trying to bash other media players [pun intended]. They have every right to their opinion, but what players you you actually like, Morons?

2- Hatred is very popular and trendy in America right now. If you don't like an app, don't use it --use another one or don't (Linux has a lot to choose from; as Linux is about choice). BUT, there is absolutely NO reason to bash Amarok/Rhythmbox in an article about Songbird, except for the hubris of appearing trendy and clever at their expense.

Too many Freeloader Linux Idiots CONTRIBUTE NOTHING ($ or Code) yet sit around and complain about their free apps while Ballmer and Jobs laugh at how Linux eats its own children. Et tu, Brute? Do you really want to come to a site titled 'LINUXJournal' and whine about FREE apps THAT AREN'T EVEN THE SUBJECT MATTER and get away with it?

Go back to Windows, Old Fart. You and that ridiculous OP NEVER SAID ONE NAME OF ONE LINUX APP THAT YOU ACTUALLY LIKE. The jokes were to squelch the din of your negative and loudmouth pomposity.

What? Me, pompous?

El Perro Loco's picture

Dear Cæsar,

Since you don't like my pomposity, I'll give it to you straight, in street language that you (supposedly) can understand:

Fuck you.

(You don't seem to like when somebody contradicts you - and then you try to bring the conversation to "street language" level, don't you? Name calling, the way you used it, indicates immaturity and lack of ideas. Please learn how to have an educated debate and address people properly. Then, and only then, come back here.

Anyway, this "old fart" commends you on the proper use of "Brute". You have potential. Don't waste it. Educate yourself in the proper manners of society. :-)

Dear General Custer

George P. Burdell's picture

You only ASSume that I can understand your gutter and philistine utterances, but they fall on Deaf Ears; for you are obviously far, far too erudite for my feeble mind to comprehend. I can only play the loathsome and savage Crazy Horse to your proud General Custer. Your ego was just so inflated and your head so swelled with yourself that my arrows apparently could not help but to have knocked you from your proverbial High Horse. Alas, SOMETHING found its mark there; not here.

I would never offend you Sir, with "street language" diatribe as you suggest. I don't have to explain to a learned person like you that adjectives like "moron" and "idiot" are actual technical, albeit obscure terms for lack of sufficient Intelligence Quotient (IQ). ...But ...I see your point about my being immature (I stated that you were way too mature for your own good) and I see your point about my lack of ideas (as this was EXACTLY my point #1 of 2 posted previously).

You thought your dreaded F-Bomb had frightened me away from my point(s), didn't you? You're way ahead of me.

You were also prescient when you stated that I don't like it when someone contradicts me; AND you haven't contradicted me yet (perhaps from that omnipresent American state of Fear that pervades from them). I am under-qualified to have an "educated debate" with you and I'm puzzled as to how someone as lowly as I would dare address you without offense... perhaps "Your Holiness" would suffice? ...and spare my wretchedness from another bout with Madame Guillotine, n'est pas?

I didn't come to Linux because I hate anybody; not even Windows or Mac. I came to Linux (and I support it annually with my money) because I believe it to be better code (that is all; and THAT Sir, was why I ran interference on your post). Look at all you ancient-type 'Linux Lovers' furiously humping the collective legs of Steves' Jobs/Ballmer --while they laugh in your face as you gnash and choke on your own flesh. They don't have to ridicule Linux real-world applications, when you don't brag on SOMETHING Linux, your imbalanced testimony does it for them.

Who(m) do you love?

All of this silly and verbose banter, yet you still yield no answer. Methinks thou art an impostor Sir; a poseur. If you won't name a Linux player that you like, then render unto Your Caesar: relieve your tortured soul and admit your closeted devotion to your Dark Masters in Redmond and Cuppertino. I ASSume that you believe iTunes and Windows Media Player to be superior to anything Linux has to offer?

George P. Burdell / Crazy Horse


El Perro Loco's picture

Your are so weird...

I totally concur

Anonymous's picture

I also "believe that good media player should do only one thing only -PLAY THE MUSIC"... thats why I make the Nursing Home staff stock all my Eight-Track tapes where I can handily get at them.

Dear Rip Van Winkle

Anonymous's picture

...its time for another nap.


johnnyhoodoo's picture

Oh Well play *.mp3

Songbird stinks badly...

Whizard72's picture

I thought Songbird was a great concept until I actually tried that program. What I saw was a program with a lot of potential but falls tragically short in its' implementation. I actually think Rhythmbox and Banshee are far better not to mention Amarok. They all use far less memory as well.

No big loss IMHO, Songbird isn't even in iTunes league on the platforms it's continuing to support (Win/Mac). Does anyone realistically believe people will choose Songbird over iTunes on Win/Mac? Please.

Best of luck to them because they WILL need it once the Linux side developers quit in disgust. (I would)


Anonymous's picture

well said

Bad decision!

Anonymous's picture

Well I got to say that I'm really disappointed with their decision to drop Linux development. I don't care now what features they add I certainly wont be using it anymore on my Windows computer either.

The darkness is coming...

smotsie's picture

There seems to be a new hatred of Linux brewing - the BBC actively fighting against us with it's iPlayer restrictions, Songbird whose form of service I love now telling me I cannot use their software, and others. The earlier comment by Jean - "follow the money" seems about right. There are certain elements of society who are not willing to give up their cash-cow and are using any method they can to discredit, block and otherwise confound those of us with an enlightened view.

Well I will continue to use Linux, and I will abandon companies and products who show such contempt for the struggle we are all in for our own rights and those of others. I will switch to We7 - and show my support by buying from them when I want "ownership" of specific music. They for one are helping us.

It was late when I read the article and wrote my comment. Re-reading this morning I see it is not Spotify who has come out against Linux support (which they never really had - "use it under Wine"), but Songbird! I am now very upset about this - Songbird which comes from the Mozilla / Firefox stable, turning it's back on it's heritage. I shall switch back to Rhythmbox and consign Songbird's buggy software to /dev/null.


Songbird Leaving Linux Behind

Jean Chicoine's picture

Follow the money.

Feed em' fish heads , they used us and then bounced.

Dallas's picture

dallas@dallas-buntu:~$ sudo apt-get purge songbird
[sudo] password for dallas:
Reading package lists… Done
Building dependency tree
Reading state information… Done
The following packages will be REMOVED:
0 upgraded, 0 newly installed, 1 to remove and 36 not upgraded.
After this operation, 119kB disk space will be freed.
Do you want to continue [Y/n]? y
(Reading database … 175810 files and directories currently installed.)
Removing songbird …
Processing triggers for python-gmenu …
Rebuilding /usr/share/applications/desktop.en_US.utf8.cache…
Processing triggers for desktop-file-utils …
Processing triggers for python-support …

Very nice and funny!

Ammar's picture

Very nice and funny!

"The outcome of that debate,

zak89's picture

"The outcome of that debate, apparently, was that Linux users are "some of the most passionate, do some killer development, and always provide tremendous input as to whether we’re on the right path" — and also aparrently, that they're expendable."

Well put. The irony of this line in the announcement is such that I almost thought it had to be an April Fool's joke. As far as I can tell, however, they mean business (or lack of it). While I'm no conspiracy theorist I can't help but wonder if they were counting on the OSS community to new a quick user base, get some community support (documentation, bug reports from eager "testers"), with the intent (or at least leaving the option) of then leaving Linux behind.

TBH, I never cared much for Songbird, but it's disturbing none the less.

but we have Rhythmbox, GTKpod and Ubuntu One Music Store

Anonymous's picture

so what, plus this is old news, hit slashdot a couple of days ago.

your negative comment

Anonymous's picture

Your negative comment on the time that you read this content provided to you for FREE is unnecessary and comes across as mean-spirited and embittered. Good Luck to you.

A couple days ago is "old"?

zak89's picture

A couple days ago is "old"? ;)

Who Cares?

Vampt3k's picture

Who cares?
Songbird never even worked fine on Linux. It often crashed especially on 64bit. Let them leave, doing me a favor at least :P


tuxy's picture

Yes I tried many media players on Linux and Songbird was awful in terms of performance and stability, I do not like the Idea behind it either, I certainly do not give a damn that they are dropping Linux support, I am currently using Banshee which is making a lot of strides in becoming a world class media player, quod libet looks good too if one prefers not to use Mono applications and I dare say Rhythm box may well grow into something that can rival all the others, I frankly do not think lack of good media players on Linux is an issue, we have much more serious issues to address, anyway I sympathise with those who, for whatever reason liked that thing.

I agree. Songbird sounded

Tom Willis's picture

I agree. Songbird sounded good in theory, but once I saw that it was just an itunes clone I lost interest. This isn't a big deal. If it was someone would have forked it already.


Rob's picture

That's bullshit.