10 Linux Alternatives to Songbird

As we’ve mentioned earlier, Songbird has left the Linux flock and gone on to perceived greener open source pastures. But what are the Linux faithful to use to replace this one time music player gem that was heralded as the alternative to iTunes?

Apparently there are a lot of choices. In fact, I doubt if Songbird will hardly be missed. So what are these Linux alternatives to Songbird? Let’s take a look at our 10 favorites, presented in no particular order.


Banshee stands heads above the crowd in its video management capability, and it has the unique capability to sync videos with your iPod. But it isn’t just videos that Banshee excels at, since it has a very capable music manager as well. You can queue up your own music, or let the auto DJ spin your tunes. There is a shuffle play mode, and the Banshee will even automatically grab the album artwork for you as you listen.

Banshee will sync with your iPod, Android, and other devices. You can also import media from your portable media player, making it easy to group and manage your collection. Smart playlists and a potent search rounds out this versatile player.


With some of the comments found in forums about Amarok, you would think that it was the best media player/manager on the planet. And the praise is well deserved, considering what Amarok has to offer.

From a powerful collection manager that handles tagging, renaming, and sorting abilities to a popup dropper that simplifies dragging and dropping, Amarok has a very well designed interface. A bookmarking system lets you mark positions in individual tracks, and automatic bookmarking keeps your place in those podcasts and audio books. Need to move your physical files due to space issues or a new drive? No problem, since Amarok will keep track of the files, leaving your statistics and playlists intact.

If for some reason you find the interface lacking, then go ahead and make it fit your needs – Amarok incorporates a scriptable API that has the support of community developed scripts.


Originally a port of Amarok 1.4, Clementine has since grown into a capable QT4 music player. Keeping a great interface design from the older Amarok, Clementine allows you to edit music tags, download missing album art, and fully search your music library. Notifications are provided through support of libnotifiy (Linux) and Growl (Mac), and both M3U and XSPF playlists are supported.


No doubt the new kid on the block, Guayadeque is being developed by UbuntuForums. While not as fully featured as some of the other players listed here, Guayadeque has a lightweight interface that makes it quick to play music. The app uses a tabbed display interface, perfect if you like that style.

Just because Guayadeque is more lightweight than the other players does not mean it skimps on features. You will find such features as automatic album art download, podcast subscription and automatic downloading, shoutcast support, dynamic play lists, tag editor, and more. There is even a smart play mode that selects tracks based on your music selections.


If you’ve been a Gnome user, chances are you’re at least a little familiar with Rhythmbox. Being the default music player for Gnome, you may have actually stopped using it to go to Songbird. If so, now would be a good time to give it another look.

Modeled after iTunes, Rhythmbox makes it easy to browse your music library… and it has comprehensive audio support through GStreamer. You will find internet radio support, and there are visualizations to enjoy. Rhythmbox will fetch your podcasts for you, and it incorporates the Magnatune and Jamendo music stores. Rhythmbox will also download album artwork and lyrics, keeping your media collection robust.


At first glance Listen may look a lot like Rhythmbox, but some like it even better. You will find Listen to be a well featured music player, with dynamic playlist support, automatic lyric retrieval, and even Last.FM integration for playlist support. But Listen goes one step further and will look up the current track on Wikipedia right in the browser itself. Listen lets you know more about your music than you ever did.

Quod Libet

Quod Libet is a GTK+ based audio player written in Python, and it incorporates the Mutagen tagging library.  Quod Libet is a lightweight player, and it can handle a very large collection of songs without choking. The interface is highly customizable, but the program’s strength lies in its advanced tag usage and playlists building based on regular expressions – if you are looking for such features.


Audacious is a great choice if you’re looking for a lightweight music player that is fully skinnable, supporting both Winamp and XMMS skins. Beyond that, you will find visualizations, sound effects, and extensive plugin support. If you want a capable player that saves on screen real estate, or has a favorite Winamp skin you want to use, then give Audacious a look.


Exaile is a popular choice for a Linux music manager. It will fetch album art and lyrics for you, and interfaces to Last.FM. Exaile supports many portable music players, and incorporates internet radio such as Shoutcast. Tabbed playlist support is also included, allowing you to have multiple playlists open. There is also an advanced tag editor, allowing you to keep your collection up to date.

MPD (Music Player Daemon)

You might note that we do not have a screen shot for MPD, and for good reason – it is a Daemon instead of an app. However, if you are a Linux power user, then MPD might be just what you are looking for. While it can be a pain to set up for anyone not well versed in a command line… once installed MPD will probably be the handiest tool in your audio belt. The client-server model of MPD requires more space to discuss than I can allow here, but if you are a power user and want complete control over your music (including multiple client support) then head over to the MPD Wiki now.

So, here we have 10 alternatives to Songbird on Linux. Some of them might not fit your needs, but a few might be even better than the original for your uses. One thing is certain, media support on Linux is stronger than ever. And I hope that is a good sign of things to come.

  27 comments for “10 Linux Alternatives to Songbird

  1. May 22, 2010 at 12:17 am

    Thanks for sharing, Bhashee link is not working for me. please have a check

  2. GregE
    May 22, 2010 at 1:13 am

    Two others that spring to mind.

    aTunes – a java based player, similar in scope to Amarok.

    Decibel, a simple light weight player that hardly uses any resources at all.

  3. Ed Vim
    May 22, 2010 at 2:47 am

    I certainly can’t speak for the writer but in my circles, the Chicago area, Songbird was hardly a dominant alternative to iTunes nor relied upon as some kind ‘must have’ media player. When it’s developers said adios to Linux support hardly a tear was shed. I’ve been Linux fan since 2000 and regular user since 2003 and in that time there have been so many media players that have come and gone, I don’t even know anyone personally who really cares one way or the other about Songbird. My own personal favorite is mplayer, with VLC, Xine, and Amarok being good supplemental programs. For several years I had an iPod mini and was perfectly content with gtkpod. Now I have a Sansa and don’t even worry about any kind of ‘iTunes’ style application. But again, I was a little surprised at the tone of this article as far as Songbird.

  4. Hohlram
    May 25, 2010 at 2:14 am

    You mean to tell me that linux users were actually using that buggy piece of crap that was Songbird?

  5. The Garage
    May 25, 2010 at 2:22 am

    QMMP. It’s basically a QT4 Winamp. Latest version from svn even supports the use of ladspa plugins! & unlike audacious……it HAS an mplayer plugin built in to play video as well.

  6. May 25, 2010 at 2:53 am

    Exaile is excellent.

  7. Andydread
    May 25, 2010 at 5:22 am

    Well lots of music players out there. Which one has the mashtape feature that was in Songbird. What about the find duplicates plugin? How about the shoutcast plugin and lyricmaster? Anyways Mashtape is a must have in these times. Is there anyway to get that working on any of the other players.? What about the skins? The skins on the default players suck. What are the choices.? Can I play music station websites in any of the alternatives? Songbird allowed this. One program to play all music whether streaming directly from the website or from shoutcast or from playlist. No needing to open browser to copy/paste url that is so 90s. It not that easy to replace Songbird unfortunately. I am looking forward to Nightingale. http://getnightingale.org/ but they are off to a rough start.

  8. May 25, 2010 at 9:42 am

    Not a fan of Songbird either. Rhythmbox serves my needs perfectly fine 🙂

  9. May 25, 2010 at 9:51 am

    Thanks for the list.

    Just an FYI, There is an attempt to fork/continue Linux development of Songbird as Nightingale: http://getnightingale.org/.

  10. Elder-Geek
    May 25, 2010 at 10:14 am

    There is more to be said about Exaile. It is able to connect to act as both a daap client and server. So it is possible to share music over the network. It is the only linux mp3 player that I have seen that is capable of displaying cover art via daap. It is also capable of being controlled by MPRIS.

  11. Nick Elliott
    May 25, 2010 at 10:33 am

    I’ve been a longtime Amarok user but would second GregE’s recommendation for aTunes which I recently discovered by chance, it has some nice features.

  12. Taymour
    May 25, 2010 at 11:05 am

    The link on the top of the document is broken

  13. May 25, 2010 at 2:03 pm

    Hi, you can add DeadBeef – not so full of features – but does what user wants. 🙂

  14. May 26, 2010 at 8:42 am

    I did a review of music players for gnome:

    I find compilation lists like this are a bit informative but not really detailing the experience of using some of these players. I suspect the author has not tried them all.

    Another you haven’t included here is MPD and it’s clients:

    – C

  15. sangh
    May 26, 2010 at 12:29 pm

    run cmus with guake terminal!

  16. Flavio
    May 26, 2010 at 12:46 pm

    In the near future Minitunes will hopefully become another viable alternative:

  17. tuxhelper
    May 26, 2010 at 7:54 pm

    aTunes is a nice alternative. Rhythmbox is great when you get a stable version and I guess using on different architectures should be to blame ..

  18. May 27, 2010 at 6:42 am

    I tried Songbird both in Windows a couple of years ago, and in Linux more recently… There wasn’t much (if anything) in the way of features that various other players weren’t already doing, too much bloat of stuff I *didn’t* want, and in Linux it totally ignored my carefully-chosen GTK+ theme/colors, Metacity/Emerald window decorations, font settings, etc.

    My favorite player is Exaile, which is fairly lightweight but has an excellent “playlist” tabs design & handling, very easy & quick music library navigation, and great plugins like mini-mode, ShoutCast radio, LastFM, or interface changes like changing the left-side nav tabs to a drop-down menu. It’s basically the “stays out of my way” player.

    Second to that is Audacious, which is basically the GNOME/GTK 2+ clone of WinAmp 2.x — can even use the same skins. No super-fancy stuff, but it does have a lot of interesting plugins, including a great ShoutCast online radio browser. Best if you (or I) have saved playlists or (like me) use well-organized sub-directories to store your music and know basically what you want to hear.

    Also, I wanted to mention that there are some great music players with full interfaces (just like Songbird, Exaile, etc.) that are text-only but really easy to set up & use, even for an ‘end-user’ like me. These are the ones I use periodically, their websites have screenshots for the curious:

  19. Name (required)
    May 27, 2010 at 7:31 am

    MPD is all you’ll ever need.

  20. Walter
    May 27, 2010 at 5:44 pm

    An interesting post. However, why have active links that net one the dreaded “403: Forbidden” error message, no matter what I clicked on.

  21. Nick
    May 29, 2010 at 5:06 pm

    Only one alternative: Amarok!

  22. June 2, 2010 at 4:07 pm

    I think almost all the links are dead. Clementine link is particularly fun.

  23. July 3, 2010 at 4:01 pm

    Thank you for review.
    I would like to recommend you my player foobnix.
    Now it is in active development 🙂
    The main feature it can play any music from last.fm and download it.

  24. VastOne
    September 16, 2010 at 5:13 am

    Guayadeque is not being developed by Ubuntu Forums, not sure how that would even be remotely possible. It is in fact being developed by one individual, Anonbeat, who uses the Ubuntu Forum as his listening post for what we the users want. Having just retried all that you listed to challenge Guayadeque, I instantly returned to it because none of the others are any where as near as a complete player as G-Que

  25. November 11, 2010 at 9:43 pm

    Best music player for gnu/linux is moc. http://moc.daper.net/

  26. Tor
    December 15, 2010 at 10:15 pm

    what about gmusicbrowser?

  27. Mark
    January 18, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    Did the test include pointing the player at a large music collection on a remote storage? Guayadeque is very fast even with a massive collection accessed over NFS. Very stable too, been using it for more than a year. In the time I’ve been using it, I’ve seen a dozen new features added, very professionally developed and deployed. I’ve send a donation to the developer because it’s the only player I’ve used that has never, ever crashed even when pushed hard. It also has the much-desired “album artist” view which eliminates single entry pollution of the library by ‘one hit wonders’ and compilations.

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