(Complete, I think, Ubuntu specific information on how to best get XMMS up and running at the end.)
The XMMS in GNU/Linux Manifesto v.0.1
The problem concerning the X Multimedia System (XMMS) is really a test for the wider community. It seems to affect users of Debian, Ubuntu and openSuse directly, but essentially it concerns all GNU/Linux users and the rest of the Free Software community, because it is a test of our social organisation: when and why can tribes be excluded and left to their own devices on the prairies of cyberspace?
This is written from the perspective of an Ubuntu user, but as you will see users from the Debian and openSuse communities also protest against the discontinuation of the XMMS. There might be other communities that have the same problem, but the Fedora leaders continue to give their users XMMS.
If the Debian, Ubuntu and openSuse leaders won’t put it back in, it is a great loss for their respective communities in terms of their social organisation. No one was asked and after consistent complaints since Feisty in the Ubuntu world nothing has happened.
To provoke, excluding XMMS users in this manner is not unlike, by analogy, the forceful evictions that slums and shanty towns are subjected to: just get out of the way for progress?!?!
That’s no way to talk to people! And there are many of us.
Of course we can hope for someone to create a third-party repository, like PPA (for Ubuntu). But why should it not be in the main repos?
One Ubuntu Forum thread about installing XMMS in Hardy has been viewed 3678 times and generated enough discussion to establish that XMMS is still the preferred player for many, no matter how inferior and unmaintained it allegedly is.
I posted about it three times (1,2,3) when installing Intrepid and there have been close to two thousand hits by now, including hundreds of downloads of a .zip file collected in a very unconventional and quick manner, but with all you need to get XMMS up and running in Intrepid (and maybe Hardy) and that shows that a central source is desired. By popular demand!
- The question is also asked here: “Whos stupid idea was it to remove XMMS from Hardy“, perhaps not in the most constructive of manners, but it shows the frustration and the post has been viewed 8,736 times with 57 replies.
- Here is another discussion in which it is clear, if contested, that there still is a definite popular demand for XMMS in Debian and a lack of proper reasons for excommunicating the application and its users:
- And Fedora 9 offers it:
- Fedora 10 maintains XMMS with Pulse, ready to go:
An openSuse user says at the release of 11:
There might be a way for openSuse users with third-party repo, – so people are keeping it alive and protesting against its exclusion from the community. In other words, XMMS is alive. There are XMMS tribes in the distro landscape. Are we confined to compiler and dependencies?
People love this little player.
Ubuntu’s Popcon tells us that:
#rank name inst vote old recent no-files (maintainer)
1971 xmms 87047 2035 84811 179 22 (Unknown)
¿So, what? – it has no database and it can’t handle UTF-8 characters? Maybe it has many bugs, some say, I don’t know, but for the last six years it has served me well and others since 1997. More than a decade.
And guess what, it can handle very big collections, 40k+ – in a single playlist where you can search quickly – without any problems – and it uses very little resources.
Amarok and Rhythmbox – to the best of my knowledge – still cannot import huge collections – around 20k they started to stall last time I checked, – and searching can get slow if the collection is large. They are great players, for sure, and I dream of the day that they can fully deliver what I want – all my tunes organised in an intelligently designed GUI on top of a state-of-the-art database. Can I have it with an XMMS skin? For now, however, can I just keep the old tested and tried version, please?
Although, apparently, Banshee can now handle 60k+ (it is now in 1.4, I tried 1.0 when the new database architecture was implemented and it could not), according to the friendly people at irc.gnome.org #banshee. So maybe it is a solution, but that maybe gets you into issues concerning freedom:
– but for a perfect music player I might even compromise just a little bit on freedom. (Don’t tell Stallman!, but it can be that important, I also sin with Internet Exploder on Crossover Pro to access a router that only accepts changes from that that ghastly thing).
All that you need to get XMMS with codecs installed is still out there, googling and searching with Synaptic, because XMMS is a very popular player and it is here to stay. You just have to fiddle and for many users that is not what they want to do. (For Ubuntu users all necessary info is collected below).
Of course it is a great way to learn about computing. It is fun to do for some and great if you have time on your hands, maybe a second box to checkinstall the stuff that you need to compile to get your favourite player up and running. However, it really puts some people off and it is a hassle for others. For some it is maybe just something extra to do, but the issue here is really that no one i the end-user community was asked whether they thought it was appropriate to exclude XMMS from our communities.
This shifts power towards the developers and leaders and builds a little wall between developers and users, the blurry boundary that we are so proud of is vanishing, XMMS is just one little brick in a wall of seperation.
No matter what anyone says about Free Software and freedom, one thing is clear: freedom must be defended by a good dose of principles and dialogue. From Bruce Perens´ return to the Free Software terms in 1999 to the SCO case and other FUD and pathetic patent trolling we have seen again and again that we have to stand together as a community against patents, other privateering attacks and laizzes-faire attitudes towards freedom.
Where concerns have been raised about the exclusion of XMMS they have been met with support by many and with throwaway statements by some about the uselessness of the XMMS player – its many bugs and outdated libraries and its lack of maintenance – showing that people continue to use it and do whatever is necessary to install it on their updated systems, exactly because it is a olden golden little app, and never mind that others don’t like it for this or that reason.
If the popular demand does not bring XMMS back into Debian, Ubuntu and openSuse as an automated install option via the repos, with all codecs possibilities offered as well, then at least the XMMS users can maintain the old (dying?) spirit of Free Software and continue cooperating to be able to use that fine old interface to listen to tunes. Like outlaws. Then XMMS will really become a cult object and maybe that is for the better, maybe the movement needs a living martyr?
XMMS, despite whatever is claimed, is not entirely dead, KnutA is maintaining repos and the topic in the IRC @ irc.freenode.net #xmms reads:
* Topic for #xmms is: HAPPY 10TH ANNIVERSARY || http://www.xmms.org || 1.2.11 RELEASED 1211 days after 1.2.10 || Ubuntu/Debian packages: http://www.pvv.ntnu.no/~knuta/xmms/
* Topic for #xmms set by Fatal at Thu Jun 5 10:55:15 2008
As an Ubuntu user I would be happy if there would be a PPA that provided the option:
sudo apt-get install xmms xmms-codecs-all (or xmms-wma xmms-mp4 xmms-shn etc.) xmms-pulseaudio xmms-whatever
¿Will a voluntary technoshaman help or will the great leaders of our communities have mercy on us – will they listen to the popular demand and stick it back into the repos, perhaps with warnings that it is outdated, unmaintained? At any rate, XMMS is historical, it is a cult object.
Ubuntu specific information on how to best get XMMS up and running:
First go to KnutA’s site:
…where he kindly hosts an XMMS repository that allows you to add it to your apt-get system and it will pull the dependencies. Set up for Lenny, Hardy and Intrepid (which is just a copy of the Hardy repo, but it works). If you don’t know how to add a third-party software source (or repository) then look here.
That should be your first step. Install XMMS that way:
sudo apt-get install xmms (or search in Synaptic).
Then you have to add various encoding and decoding tools if you need them.
Pulseaudio, the new system:
I do not use that. Choosing ALSA as output in XMMS works better for me. With Pulseaudio there were funny issues with other channels, losing sound for a half a second every now and then.
There is still an mp4 .deb here, which also works in Intrepid:
To get FLAC follow the second part of this how-to (you don’t need to compile XMMS as outlined in the first part of the how-to, since you can get the .deb with apt-get from KnutA):
More relevant compile info here:
More relevant information here:
However, if you trust me you can also just download this file, Plugins.tar.gz and unzip to your:
/home/user/.xmms/Plugins folder (shut down XMMS, of course, for good measure):
That file contains the Flac and .wma plugins that should work in Intrepid and possibly Hardy, but why not go ahead and do it yourself, you might just learn something in the process?!
- about which you can find useful information here:
Anything else that anyone’s uses or maintains?
If you have a virtual machine or an extra box to play around with it might be a good idea to compile your things somewhere else then your production system, but a similar environment, since it most likely will send you in dependency hell, chasing packages discerned from compiler output and with the aid of the higher spirits of telepathy. I just couldn’t be bothered to keep track of them. I know, I should have extracted it from the Apt logs and and and …
Anyway, in the end you have a system with a load of stuff that you don’t need and I ended up doing a fresh install, but I mostly do that when a new distro comes out, – first install it to check it out, stress it and try different things, before settling for a plan for the final, hopefully, install. NOTE: If you do it this way do remember to use checkinstall, which generates .debs that you can use the second time around. That is also how you should do it in a virtual or other machine, so that you can transfer it to your favourite stable machine where you just want to play music while you work on something else.