I love open source software. There’s something fascinating to me about a community of passionate developers being able to release highly customizable software that is equal to or better than the commercial alternatives. As I wrote in a post last year, our company uses almost all open source software, both because of the affordability and because of the extensibility.
My office suite is Open Office, my email client is Thunderbird, my browser is Firefox, and my image editor is Paint.net (although GIMP is just as good). In my free time I like to mess with every flavor of Linux in hopes of breaking away from Microsoft completely. Ubuntu is about 95% of the way there in my opinion, but that’s for another post.
There are a lot of things to like about Apple, but they are about as closed off as a company can be. They are pretty much the anti open source. Like many music fans, I switched from buying CDs to downloading DRM albums from iTunes when I got my first iPod a few years back. This reliance on iTunes and lack of control over music I’ve paid for has bothered me more and more lately.
Finally, after reading the immensely positive reviews of Songbird (see: Why Apple Should Be Worried About Songbird on RWW) I decided to do something about it. Since the only “legal” way to remove the DRM protection is to burn a CD and then rip it back to your computer, I purchased Noteburner (a virtual CD drive) for $35 and was able to automate burning and ripping about 1,000 songs. I set it up before I went to bed and by morning I was DRM free.
Now free from Apple’s reigns, I downloaded Songbird and haven’t looked back since. There are a whole lot of cool things I’m able to do with Songbird, many of which iTunes doesn’t have a comparable feature for at all. Among my favorite plugins:
- The YABS skin makes my Songbird look like the screenshot at the beginning of this post
- LyricMaster displays lyrics alongside of the song while it’s playing
- MinTrayR minimizes the player to the system tray
- Song Notifier displays a pop-up with song info each time a new song plays
- MorningPeeps is an alarm clock that now wakes me up with my music
- The device support plugins allow me to sync my iPod and Sansa Clip
- For the 1GB Sansa Clip, I have it sync with 800 MB of randomly chosen songs that are rated 5 stars (so I only listen to music I love at the gym)
- Music Recommendations suggests music based on what’s playing
- The Exorcist removes broken and duplicate files
- Concerts shows when my artists are coming to my area
- Album Art pulls the album art from Last.fm
Pretty cool huh? Doesn’t look like I’ll be going back to Apple anytime soon.