April 2, 2019

More Than A Year Since It's Last Maintenance Offering, Amarok Still Has Not Had A Proper Plasma 5 Release

Amarok 2.9.0 on KDE Plasma

More than a year out from it's last maintenance release, and 15 years(!) since it's first edition, KDE's venerable music player has not yet seen a release for proper Plasma 5 integration and support.

Hard to believe it's been 15 years for Amarok to be rocking in the free (and not-so-free) world. When the announcement for the 2.9.0 release was made last March that kept the application functioning for the most part in the Plasma 5 era, the release stated:

"In fact, the port is already progressing nicely in the Git 'kf5' branch, which is soon to become the new ‘master’ branch. We welcome everybody willing to help out to check out the source code and improve the next major version of Amarok!"

However, since that time, we haven't heard anything from camp Amarok. Now it should be noted that the current version, - 2.9.0 - for the most part works fine on Plasma 5, and is available in the repos and software stores of nearly all major KDE distributions. I realize this may surprise some of you, as many I've talked to assumed Amarok was somewhat left to bit rot into oblivion.

This does not seem to be the case, although when I tested Amarok on my Neon system, some plugins were not working. Mainly the 'photos', 'info', 'upcoming events', and 'tabs' (guitar tablatures) did not seem to be doing anything for me. These likely need some love in order to function again.

Amarok album art collection
Amarok has some really nice features,
such as dynamic playlists, Lyric retrieval,
cover art retrieval, a built-in E.Q., robust
online integration, and more


Maybe it's not all doom and gloom

On a positive note, a quick scan of Amarok's Git repo does show some activity.  Some of it as recently as two months ago - so that's pretty encouraging. Also worth noting is this page outlines what has been done and needs to be done to get things in proper shape. If I'm understanding it correctly, right now Amarok uses a dependency on the lib 'KF5::KDELibs4Support' to keep things running. This, of course, is not a good long term solution but rather a patchwork way of keeping the moving parts working. It would be curious to know how many other KDE apps use these libraries...

Another apparent bright spot is this Amarok commit page, where we can see work is still being done to the Master branch, albeit mainly by one person (Laurent Montel). However, it does not appear that anything has yet been tagged as a "3.0" version milestone as of yet. Which is a bit disheartening.

Amarok 2.9.0, shown as available via the Discover Software Center in KDE Plasma
Amarok 2.9.0, shown as available via
the Discover Software Center in KDE Plasma


Summary (queue best Monty Python voice - "I'm Not Dead Yet"!)

It's been a while since I wrote about Amarok. While many of our readers have likely moved on, and there is certainly no lack of media players and music players available on Linux (understatement of the year?), to many of us old timers Amarok holds a special place in our hearts. This application has stood the test of time, been around forever, and like all the great KDE applications is - by design - Simple by default, Powerful when needed.

To my knowledge, there is no other single music player available for KDE, or Linux in general for that matter, that can do as much out of the box and do it as elegantly as elegantly as Amarok. Let's hope that 2019 brings some good news with regards to this KDE original. I'm sure Amarok would regain quite a following and a lot of new fans should a proper release and an appropriate amount of Promo come to light.

In the meantime, Happy belated 15th birthday to Amarok!

Amarok 1.4.3, as it appeared in 2007 - courtesy of wikimedia.org
Amarok 1.4.3, as it appeared in 2007
- courtesy of wikimedia.org

PS - If your curious for an overview of all that Amarok can do, please check out their features page. It's pretty impressive. Amarok can even be your podcast manager, should you so choose. Multitaskers FTW.

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