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Best Linux for Multimedia

There are a surprisingly large number of music players on Linux, and while we know the choice is a deeply personal one, we recommend Banshee for all your music listening needs.

Note that music players are one of the most hotly contested App Directory categories, and it's easy to see why. Everyone wants different things from their player, so it's nearly impossible to really choose the best one. However, the point of App Directory is to give you a starting point for good apps in any given category, and as such, we think Banshee is the perfect choice here—it's familiar, feature-filled, and perfect for Linux users looking for a music player. As always, we recommend checking out the competition section below for other choices if Banshee doesn't suit you.

Platform: Linux
Price: Free
Download Page


  • Store and play your music, videos, podcasts, and audiobooks all in one library
  • Create and manage playlists and smart playlists that update based on custom filters
  • Enqueue songs into a "Now Playing" pane for on-the-go playlist creation.
  • Watch folders on your hard drive for changes and automatically adjust your library accordingly
  • Import libraries from Amarok, Rhythmbox, and iTunes
  • Sync iPod, iPhone, Android, and many other portable music devices with your library
  • Listen to and rip audio CDs
  • Set a bookmark on any song, video, or podcast and return to that point later
  • Fix broken and missing metadata using bulk operations
  • Mini-player from which you can control Banshee through a small window
  • Wikipedia context pane that provides information about the currently playing artist
  • Integration with internet radio, DAAP, Miro,, and the Amazon MP3 store

Where It Excels

Banshee is one of those programs that finds the sweet spot between customizability and ease of use. It has a ton of features that let you use it pretty much however you want to, whether that's enqueuing songs in a "Now Playing" window, creating smart playlists, or integrating with external services, and you can tweak the interface to look just how you want it to. It also supports a ton of devices, including the iPod touch and iPhone, which not a lot of third party programs can claim. And, it does all this while keeping a familiar, easy to use interface that newcomers won't be intimidated by. It has a little something for everyone, which makes it a great first stop on your search for a good Linux music player.

Where It Falls Short

Banshee's a bit of a younger program, so some really heavy power users might prefer something tried and true like Rhythmbox. Banshee has an extension library, but it isn't quite as extensive as other programs (depending on what you're looking for), and a few people have mentioned that it isn't quite as stable as other favorites—for example, some claim it has trouble with very large libraries. If you find it's too buggy for your tastes, you can try some of the competition below.

The Competition

Rhythmbox is Banshee's biggest competition, having been the default player in Ubuntu for a long time before it was replaced with Banshee in 11.04. It has a reputation of being a bit more stable than Banshee, and it's still pretty feature filled (though not quite as much as Banshee). The two are quite similar in many ways, though, so they're both worth a look in our opinion.

Amarok, designed for the KDE desktop environment, has a bit less familiar of an interface, but it's really great. Instead of the typical library view, you have three columns: a list of artists on the left, a lyrics and Wikipedia browser in the middle, and your "Now Playing" queue on the left. It only supports music, though, not podcasts, videos, or audiobooks, and it doesn't have quite the flexibility of other programs. It can sync with some devices, though, and has a few cool other features, like smart playlists that automatically update on loose criteria. Incidentally, it's also my favorite music player of all time, on any platform.

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