iTunes Alternatives Road Tested (2)


DO RAY ME SO FLOO LA TI DO 

So, you got through the first part and you’re ready for more? Not tempted by an application so far, then read on and maybe one of these will tickle your fiancee.

Err…. fancy

GTKPod

I tried GTKPod because I wanted to try an iPod app on my Linux box running Ubuntu 7.10 Gutsy Gibbon, and GTKPod was the first one I tried. It was a breeze to install using Synaptic Package Manager and it worked.

A bit.

Actually, once I had edited the mount point properly it worked quite well but the trouble was, at that time I was still using Anapod on my PC, and as I mentioned last time Anapod didn’t write the database properly, so other 3rd party apps would be flaky at times and that was the trouble with GTKPod. It would give me errors that related to the database file.

The one time I reinstalled all the music on my iPod using GTKPod and didn’t use anything else for a while it worked great, and other people using it exclusively also report that it works great. Were I only using Linux to manage my iPod I have no doubt that GTKPod would do the job admirably and I recomend it.

It supports artwork, it works with video, it categorizes audiobooks properly if they are m4b files and allows you to edit id3 tags. You can set up sync folders and remove duplicates while uploading and create playlists too. it really is a breeze to use.

It doesn’t support streaming content but that’s not a major blow and I found it to be quite fast too.

Overall I would recomend it, along with something else to download your podcasts as it doesn’t support them, something like gpodder.

Hipo

Hipo was another Linux based app that I tried and I discovered by accident. I was searching through Synaptic just looking for various apps, and when I searched for “iPod” Hipo was among the results.

Hipo is quite early on in its development, and the versions I used (0.4 and 0.5) showed that. It doesn’t support streaming and is just a means of updating your iPod with audio and nothing else.

It supports playlists, editing id3 tags and artwork, but despite looking, I couldn’t find a way to update the artwork for multiple tracks. That presents a problem because editing the artwork for 20 tracks individually is a bind. Editing the artwork for 5,000 is nobody’s idea of fun.

Not even a Linux enthusiast.

Does it work?
Yes

Is it good?
If you require only limited functionality.

Honestly, if you’re using Linux, use GTKPod.

Yamipod

Now we are getting down to it. YamiPod is one of those apps with a version for Windows, Linux and Mac OSX, so if you are using any or all these platforms you can stick with the same app across the board.

These kind of apps create a folder for themselves in your iPod_Control folder, so if you set an option in the preferences on the Windows version, that same option will be set in the other versions when you run them. It’s more like running one app with 3 different front ends rather than 3 different apps.

This makes them truly portable as they will run from your iPod itself and on any machine. You may have problems on some of the later model iPods but it worked for me on my 5th Generation iPod video.

Yamipod will let you do all the usual stuff like manage audio content in MP3 and AAC format and edit playlists, and as well as these standard things it also supports some iPod specific tasks such as creating notes and updating play counts and song ratings.

As a bonus it will also let you stream audio content from your iPod through the host computer.

Incidentally Yamipod was the program that told me my database had been corrupted by a third party application, but I can’t really go into too much more detail about Yamipod because I didn’t use it for very long. Soon after I tried it I found another, and in my opinion, better app. If my current favourite lets me down or a future release of Yamipod provides some feature that I can’t get elsewhere I’ll go back to it.

That would appear to be a recomendation in my book.

Floola

So, the final entry in this fascinating instalment of my prosaic meanderings would appear to herald the appearance of the victor. The winner to the rest of you.

Like Yamipod, Floola also creates its own folder in your iPod_Control folder and has a front end for Windows, Linux and Mac, so all your settings are universal.

Like the best of the rest it allows you to create sync folders and add either single files or folder heirarchies recursively, editing the id3 tags as you add them or later once they are on your iPod.

Where it differs from others is that it not only supports videos but it will allow you to categorise your them as things like TV Shows, Movies or Video Podcasts.

Speaking of Podcasts (see what I did there?) it is actually a decent Podcast tool. You can set it to completely automate the process by doing things like checking and downloading the latest episodes and deleting previous ones already transferred, or you can choose to manually manage them yourself.

You can easily add, remove or edit artwork for single or multiple files, and navigating around the content by genre, artist or album is easy and quite fast too. In fact I find that the app in general is quite fast, even with an almost full 30 Gigabyte iPod Video.

Using Floola you can play your iPod content through the host computer very easily, and this includes videos as well as audio. You can create and edit playlists easily and create notes too.

If you should come across a problem with your iPod, Floola will allow you to repair it with its own tools. It will ask you several questions such as whether or not the problem was caused by Floola, and based on your answers it will restore your database file from either one of its own backups or from the one iTunes created before you started to use Floola.

Now, remember back to what must seem like 3 years ago when I listed my requirements and optional features, and I listed artwork as an optional? Well, Floola did cause me some problems here, but they were minimal and are listed in the things to fix in future versions. The problem is that Floola does not write the artwork database properly on certain models of iPod, and my 5th Gen iPod Video is one of the troublesome ones.

What happens is that the artwork gets added properly but then when you are playing your content later you will either get the wrong artwork displayed or a corrupted image, and because of this I had no option but to delete the artwork for all my albums. Should this bug be fixed in a future version then I can easily add my artwork again.

So, despite this glitch, we clearly have a winner. Floola.

I can add, edit and delete audio and video.
I can add, edit and delete podcasts.
I can add, edit and delete playlists.
I can add, edit and delete artwork.
I can add, edit and delete notes.
I can stream my iPod content via the host computer.
I don’t need to maintain an idle media library.
I can run the same program with the same settings on both major platforms (and Mac too).
I have yet to see it crash and burn on any platform so it would appear to be very stable.
Oh, and it’s free.

I think that meets my requirements, which almost brings to a close my series of iTunes bashing blogathons. Almost but not quite. All that remains is to explain why you should never, not ever, buy a single song from the iTunes Music Store.

Beware, it is acronymtastic but with my laid back and easy reading prosaic style it will be a breeze and a pleasure to get through.

(I know. I used the word prosaic twice in one blog entry). Damn that’s three times now.

Anyway, toodle pip for now.

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