Linux has no shortage of music players, and even KDE has at least two: JuK and Amarok. The one you decide to use is truly a matter of preference, and it would be pointless for me to attempt to convince you to choose Amarok. It is, however, my music player of choice. I mostly use it solely for the purpose of playing music, ignoring any additional features, but once I started exploring the latest version, I noticed that Amarok has several extraordinary widgets.
Like KDE’s Plasma desktop, Amarok has the ability to display widgets. It is divided into the three columns. The left column is the music browser, which displays the user’s local collection or the Internet music library of his or her choice. The right column shows the current playlist, and the center column can hold a number of widgets. Users must click the wrench icon at the bottom to add, remove, or reorder widgets.
The Albums widget provides users with the most recently added albums when nothing is playing, and when a song is playing, the widget displays the current artists albums. You can navigate through the list of songs for quick access to any other songs by the artist currently in your collection.
2. Current Track
Current Track shows the Album cover, title, artist’s name, Last.fm love button, position marker, play count, score, last played, and track rating.
Right click on the album cover and click “Display Cover” to see the largest available version of the image. Click “Fetch Cover” to download cover art from Amazon. Most of the time this works just fine for big industry artists, but there are some instances where it will display the wrong art or find none at all. In those cases, you can click “Set Custom Cover” to add your own. In addition, click “Tools” and “Cover Manager” at any time to download covers for all of your albums or edit any current ones.
The rating system has a 5-star scale, and each star has a 1/2 setting. You can change your rating of a song at any time, and when no song is playing, the Current Track widget will display top-rated tracks.
Rather than having to search the Web for song lyrics, Amarok has a built-in Lyrics widget. Whenever a song starts to play, just click on the Lyrics button to display the widget. Click the configure button in the top right corner to change font style and size. If no lyrics are found, you may have to search the Web, but you will only need to do it once. Simply copy the lyrics you find, click the Edit Lyrics icon, and paste them right into the widget.
One of the features that I just recently discovered is the Photos Widget. While a track is playing, it will run a slideshow of photos from Flickr. In most cases, it will accurately display pictures of the currently playing artist. In some cases, particularly with rappers or singers who have improper nouns as their stage names, you will have to do some configuring.
Click the configure button and add additional keywords that will help Amrok search Flickr for the right photos. You can also set the slideshow animation type and the number of photos to display.
The Videoclip widget harnesses the power of YouTube to offer quick links to videos of the song you are currently playing. Because almost every song is on YouTube, you are certain to find something, although it may not always be an official music video.
Once you select a video, it will play within the widget window. To play fullscreen, double click on the video or right click, and then click “fullscreen”. If you click on the link rather than the video thumbnail, it will open the video in your web browser.
Want to know more about your musician? The Wikipedia widget does just what the name implies: displays the Wikipedia entry for the currently playing band or artist. Like the other Internet-based widgets, it assumes that a Wikipedia article actually exists for the person or band you are playing.
Amarok is a powerful music player with most of the standard features, such as playlists, album art, and collection/library management. What sets it apart is its extensibility. The widgets that come installed are impressive, and the ability to add more makes Amarok an application worth giving a try. Amarok is free and open source software, released under the GPL and is part of the KDE software compilation.
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