Songbird for Linux dropped, Nightingale picks up

In a sad blog post, developers of Mozilla-based Songbird, announced they would be dropping the Linux version of its open source media player, so they can focus on the Windows and Mac OS X which accounts for about 90% of their user base.

Surprisingly, Songbird Linux user base is larger than its Mac OS X user base which prompted irked reactions that ranged from “I hope you, the developers, can hear the loud ‘whoosh’ of your userbase leaving.”, to “Microsoft payed to Songbird to get away from Linux so Banshee can get more popular.”

Four days later, a group of long time Songbird contributors has announced that they will continue its development for Linux platforms (initially) under the name Lyrebird, which has already been renamed to Nightingale.

So here we are, Songbird is no more supporting Linux platform, so we decided to create our own version, supporting Linux first, but also Windows and Mac OS X later… We had a long debate for the name of our project, and it’s now chosen : Nightingale.

Of course there’s not much to see there yet, but a wiki, a blog, and a forum is usually what projects need to take off and it’s all there. I really hope Mozilla will be able to hand some infrastructure support in the short term.

In the meantime, Songbird is currently working on its next version, code named NOFX, expected for later this month.

I’ve tried Songbird several times on Windows and Linux, and I must say I keep turning back to Winamp (on Windows at least), because of its slowness searching my 6,000 songs library. Dropping iPod support didn’t help either.

After four years in development, and its latest decisions (even considering it is business and all) I’m about to think there is no hope for Songbird.

19 thoughts on “Songbird for Linux dropped, Nightingale picks up”

    1. I am glad to see something good come out of the Songbird project. I enjoyed the product but dropping the Linux users was a bad idea. I very happy to see that iPod support will be available for Nightingale.

  1. Actually the latest versions (for about 6mo – 1yr ago) are quite speedy even on 20,000 tracks.

    1. I’ve tried to use it couple of days ago. It’s really slow and buggy. I can’t even imagine how can anyone use it. Songbird is the worst media player I ever used.

  2. So not only do they have a bigger Linux userbase than Mac, but those users contribute anywhere from 150% to 300% more than the other platforms users to helping the project. Yet they drop their most loyal and second largest platform.

    This is a bizarre decision on their part and I for one and done with Songbird. There are good alternatives (doubleTwist on my mac and PC, RhythmBox on my Ubuntu box) and they don’t piss on their userbase and call it rain.

    If Nightingale is able to succeed, I’ll definitely check it out.

  3. Let’s be honest, songbird on linux was a slushy pig that had a long way to go. Are there enough jukebox apps out there?

  4. Dropping support for FOSS and instead supporting only closed, non-free proprietary platforms and saying you still believe in and support the principles is a rather insulting joke.

    Extremely short sighted at best. They are putting numbers ahead of principles and saying they still support the principles? Betrayal with a kiss, thirty pieces of silver, but hey I’m still a believer! Yeah… right…

  5. I switched my retired dad to Linux this year (Mandriva 2010 on desktop and Kubuntu9.10 on laptop) and it was easy since he was already using Skype, Firefox, Google Earth, Opera, Open Office and VLC before the switch.
    The one thing he feared missing was Winamp.
    Rhythmbox is vomit inducing and he like Songbird less than my sisters Itunes software.
    All he wants is to be able to grab 10-20 songs and just play them with no fuss.
    So I took all the extras out of Amarok and kept a playlist to the right and his music folder to the left and its worked out fine. He uses the Now Playing widget for most simple use because he can make it BIGGG!!

    I just installed the Audalicious my wife uses on her netbook on to his laptop and he now uses both music players (i asked if he wanted me to put both the same and he refused.)
    My mom stills prefers to use VLC for all her audio and video uses.

    The loooong detour is to say that there are many choices in free software for those that need music players and the great part of the GPL is that Nightingale is able to carry on.

    Songbird will eventually become but a distant memory (my buddy found a cd that said HotDog and it thought it was the ski bunny classic from twenty years ago. instead if was from one of the first easy to use WYSIWYG web building programs. he used ir regularly in the mid to late 90s but he could barely remember it a decade later. )

    My buddy Mark is a recovering mac addict so he’s both pissed at them dropping Linux and Ipod support. He asked if they were planning to bed his wife and shoot his dog as well !!
    (shoot the dog, the wife is uggo!)

    I dont think I’ll be switching to Nightingale but I wish them success. Just because its not something I will use doenst mean that choice isnt a great thing.

  6. I would just like to add an update to the current status of the Nightingale project. Nightingale has split into two different projects now since their forums crashed, now there is Nightingale, and their is AlienBoomBox. This split occurred on May 22, 2010, when some of the former members of Nightingale announced that they were starting a new project to compete with media players such as GrooveShark, Alien intends on making an online music player and eventually also an offline one. Anyway this split up of Nightingale has set Nightingale back a few months since the crash of there server and loss of there database and have lost a great majority of their members.

  7. In regards to Lightshow’s comment.

    We lost only 2 contributors, 1 of which was a loss (your husband) and Lightshow/yourself which results in a net gain because we no longer need to protect ourselves from your attempts to seize the project. The other would likely likely be welcome back as a developer though.

    Honestly though, how can one claim months of setbacks for a 2 month old project, when both users have yet to have proven their skills? Furthermore, the new strategy is entirely different to the old one, in which case, we are rebooting anyway. But the last 2 months were valuable nonetheless.

    Fortunately, the new leader we are in talks with is overqualified for the project, and has proven her/his skills. That will likely be announced VERY soon 😉

    The announcement will be nothing short of a project reboot, and whilst we do wish AlienBoombox a prosperous future (I don’t care what player I use, as long as it’s good), we do wish that Lightshow, would stop trying to alienate/degrade our community to succeed, rather than work on building her own.

  8. I am a songbird user(windows) but I also use linux. I must say that I am hurt by their decision and will now uninstall their software from my computer completely. This means Windows too. For now I will just live with atunes. I will also start to keep an eye on the fork project. It looks great so far and I cannot wait for a release. Good luck to you developers who are forking it. I will most likely use your project on my linux, pc, and mac operating systems/computers.

  9. Songbird will keep being developed for Linux, however not properly tested nor supported. Latest versions will be available on their Developer Index currently on v1.9.0a… anyway, I am also angry with Mozilla…

    1. Antoine, I am angry because I believe the lack of support will make Songbird for Linux an adaption to the Win/Mac ones. Improvements for Linux specific features won’t be priorty.

  10. 2Guy Lafleur:

    In fact Winamp works well on Linux under wine. And so does Foobar2000.

    I still have not seen a linux app that could do what the ‘Auto-tag’ feature in winamp does – i.e. you feed it a bunch a mp3 files without ID3 tags, named Track1, Track2, etc. right-click > Send to> Auto-Tag and it fills in the artist, album, etc.

    Picard is supposed to be able to do auto-tagging on Linux but it barely does the job for me.

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