iTunes alternative

I really like iTunes. When you have 1 computer (an apple, that is ;-), and 1 place to store your music, it’s all you’ll ever need. It is easy to manage your music with, it puts your files in reasonably understandably locations (artist/album/track), has nice smart playlists and there are a lot of plugins available.

I also like to store my precious media at a different machine than my desktop. Since a desktop is more prone to “crashes”, nearly allways caused by user error, it is not the place to keep your important or irreplacable files, like your family photo’s. So I have a network. On this network, I have a server which contains my digital media (foto’s and mp3’s, mainly). The server is only used as storage location, does not run strange software, automatically backs up all files to a seperate harddisk, defragments drives and mails me when something goes wrong. Access to shares is restricted properly, guests can only read files, and there is one “incomming” share where people can read and write. Important files get moved to the read-only shares by an administrator user (me). This server has been up and running for over 4 years now, without a hickup, and with backups of at most 2 days old.

Being all organized, my iTunes library is also on this server. As long as I use 1 computer, with 1 instance of iTunes, all is well. But when I start up a different computer (the one in the living room) to listen to my music, things get ugly. The iTunes library is really designed to be managed by 1 iTunes instance. Changes made to my music library on one computer, can not be seen on the other. Even worse: it handles it terribly (music not found, warning messages all over, etc.)

One solution would be to leave the “main” iTunes computer running and share the library. Then I can connect to that share in the living room. But when I do this, I have 3 computers eating electricity, and the added trouble of not being able to put files on my mp3 player from the living room machine. And there I am, thinking that my music was mine. Apperently not, iTunes decides to “protect” the music from being listened to by it’s rightful owner.

Every now and again, I turn to Google to see if anybody has found a cure for this problem. But all Google comes up with, is more people having the same problem, hopelessly crude and complex rsync procedures, or way inferior music player alternatives. Today, I stubled upon Songbird, a multi platform music player looking like iTunes. I haven’t tried it out yet (I’m not that bold), it’s version 0.2, and according to the makers merely a preview of what’s to come. So not something I’ll be managing my music library with for some time, but I’ll be watching that space, because it sure looks like these guys pay attention to what they’re doing!

I’m hoping to see a way to access my music from more than 1 computer in the near future, be it iTunes or SongBird. And I think many more people are hoping this to!

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