foobar on computers, software and the rest of the world

xfmedia player for Ubuntu - bye bye Audacious

, posted: 9-Dec-2008 09:50

After a recent upgrade from Ubuntu 7.10 to 8.10 (Intrepid Ibex), which works really well for me, I discovered to my dismay that xmms is not in the repositories anymore. That was my audio player of choice, usually always running in the background playing some song for me.

The prefered replacement now is a package called 'audacious', which works well and gives you an xmms-style interface. However, I noticed that audacious uses around 12% to 14% of my CPU just playing an audio file. Not much, you think? I like to run my laptop cool when I can, so any unnecessary CPU load is really annoying. It just doesn't ... you know ... sound right to use that much CPU for something that should happen lightly and constantly in the background. Looking around on the Internet and discussion forums showed me that I am not the only one with that complaint. All I was looking for was a really light weight player for my sound file. Nothing fancy. Did I ask too much?

Sometimes it pays to look beyond the usual Gnome or KDE apps to find something that works, though, and in this case I found what I wanted in the xfce world. Xfce is an extra light desktop environment for *nix. Therefore, it doesn't surprise me to find it there. The name of the application is xfmedia and it is in the repositories for Ubuntu 8.10, even if you normally use Gnome. So, just look for it with Synaptic, or type sudo apt-get install xfmedia if you prefer. The application is GTK+ based and thus integrates quite nicely with my Gnome desktop. Most importantly for me: It reads the many playlists that I originally created with xmms.

And now what is the CPU load for xfmedia when playing a song? Between 3% to 4%. Much better than audacious. So, xfmedia is now my new media player of choice.

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Comment by freakalad, on 9-Dec-2008 17:52

nice review.
keep 'em coming

Comment by shamil, on 10-Dec-2008 01:00

Good recomendation. I too was a big fan of the normal xmms. And was glad to see that there was audacious. Audacious doesn't let me set PCM as the master volume for it. Audacious also has a different sounding equalizer too.

Glad to see xfmedia. It's enough in the same fashion as xmms, lite, and plays video.

One thing people need to realize about xfmedia is that it's xine based. That's fine as installing xfmedia will pull in the xine libraries also. Except for one. Libxine1-ffmpeg. Otherwise no audio and video and confused users saying what a crappy media player this is because they missed the xine codec pack.

Author's note by foobar, on 11-Dec-2008 02:39

@shamil: I hadn't noticed the bit about Libxine1-ffmpeg when I installed it. I just went the 'sudo apt-get install xfmedia' route and afterwards it ran perfectly. Maybe I had the required library previously installed already, but shouldn't apt detect dependencies and install them on its own anyway?

Comment by Boris Burtin, on 13-Dec-2008 13:29

Thanks for the tip on libxine1-ffmpeg. I had the same problem with playback and was about to give up when I found your post. I filed an Ubuntu bug for this issue:

Comment by myalias, on 12-Feb-2009 06:10

> However, I noticed that audacious uses around 12% to 14% of my CPU just playing an audio file.

On a friend's box audacious drained 70% CPU usage on one of his cores. After a bit of fiddling about I realized that he had enabled some high quality audio setting, which converts the 16 bit 44Khz output from the decoder plugin to a 24 bit 96Khz, which is sent to the audio plugin (in realtime).

I don't know the default audacious settings for ubuntu. However when I tried it from source code, I got about 5% CPU usage. After a week or so I got annoyed with the GUI lag and switched back to gmplayer and ogg123.

Comment by MoD, on 16-May-2010 14:17

I found that by changing the ALSA PCM output device ("Audio" tab of configuration, then "Output plugin options") I was able to decrease CPU usage from around 20% to 1-2%. This might make the difference in other people's cases as well.

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New Zealand

  • Who I am: Software developer and consultant.
  • What I do: System level programming, Linux/Unix. C, C++, Java, Python, and a long time ago even Assembler.
  • What I like: I'm a big fan of free and open source software. I'm Windows-free, running Ubuntu on my laptop. To a somewhat lesser degree, I also follow the SaaS industry.
  • Where I have been: Here and there, all over the place.

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