The Unix Ideal

From the time I started listening to podcasts until about two months ago, I had been using Rhythmbox to manage my podcasts.  When I first started using a Linux music application, Banshee ran hideously slow on my computer.  (As did most mono-based products)  As time has passed I’ve acquired a more powerful Linux computer and the mono code has been made more efficient.  But it was too late, I was already ingrained into Rhythmbox and it had all my music rated.  So I continued to use it.  On Linux Outlaws they kept mentioning how much they loved gPodder.  I checked out an early version and I didn’t see the point.  But after upgrading to Fedora 11, I decided to check it out.  It is so much better for managing podcasts than Rhythmbox and that goes to the Unix ideal – have your program do only one thing and do it well.  Banshee, by the way, is the opposite of that.  It seems to be moving in a Windows Media Player direction, recently gaining the ability to play videos as well.  So, here’s a comparison of Rhythmbox and gPodder and you’ll be able to easily see why I switched.  First, here’s the podcast interface for Rhythmbox.

Rhythmbox Managing Podcasts
Rhythmbox Managing Podcasts

It’s ok.  Nothing terrible about it.  But it’s also a bit dull and if I have the browse button selected, it is also selected for music mode and that’s just annoying.  Here’s gPodder’s interface.

gPodder Interface
gPodder Interface

I’ve got all the podcast titles listed on the side as well as the icon.  As you know, sometimes having an icon is a much quicker way to find something than trying to read the names of all the podcasts.  (Note, I used to have all these podcasts in Rhythmbox, but I was in the middle of transitioning to gPodder that’s why they don’t all appear in the interface screenshot above.  There’s really only one negative in gPodder in comparison and that is that it doesn’t show how long each podcast is.  I do, however like the ability to just hit a button and sync all the podcasts to my iPod shuffle.

All this is well and good, but to see the main reason why I switched, just look at how the info is displayed for the podcast in each program.  First, here’s Rhythmbox:

Rhythmbox Podcast info - messy and not as informative
Rhythmbox Podcast info - messy and not as informative

Annoyingly, Rhythmbox does not parse the HTML.  Check out gPodder’s rendering of the same podcast:

gPodder Podcast info rocks!
gPodder Podcast info rocks!

It’s much easier to read and much more useful.  I can click on the links and Firefox starts up.  This saves me from having to go to the podcast’s website to look at the show notes.  Unfortunately, most podcasts I listen to are not featuring such great details, but the Linux and Technology ones are.

So definitely give gPodder a go and see why the Unix ideal of having one program do something and do it well is a great idea!

Author: Eric Mesa

To find out a little more about me, see About Me

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