We have been asked by the PR people at magnatune to answer some interview questions which they can use to create their promotional push. Here they are. Please leave your name with a comment.
What is amaroK?
amaroK is a music player primarily intended for the K Desktop environment (KDE), which, according to www.kde.org, is "a powerful Free Software graphical desktop environment for Linux and Unix workstations. It combines ease of use, contemporary functionality, and outstanding graphical design with the technological superiority of the Unix operating system". It can be used under any other desktop environment as well, however, and ports to other platforms (Mac OS X, Windows), while not currently planned, are not out of the question either.
amaroK is a music player that lets you focus more on playing and managing your music the way you like it, and less on fighting with the program to get it to do what you want. It combines the two major paradigms found in contemporary music players: some use a single large collection that indexes every music file on your computer, out of which you can then select ones to play; others use a playlist, to which you must add music files from your filesystem manually. amaroK's interface is made up of two prominent parts: your playlist on the right, from which music is played either in order or at random, and a collection of "browsers" on the left, from which you can add music to the playlist: a Collection Browser for managing your collection, a Playlist Browser for playlists, a File Browser to find stuff in your filesystem directly, and last but certainly not least, a Context Browser which shows an abundance of information about the currently playing track.
Why was amaroK created?
The legend goes that Mark Kretschman missed clicking on the tiny play button in XMMS one too many times, and so he set out to create something better. Instead of making the interface fetishistically customizable (some customization is naturally still possible, but it is not taken to extremes), amaroK instead focuses on actually being a music player, as opposed to merely a showcase for skins, creating a single interface that is easy, intuitive, and powerful.
Why offer it for free?
Multiple reasons. Primarily, amaroK was created and is being improved to satisfy the developers' own wishes: making it freely available under the GNU General Public License lets others modify the source code at will and join in developing it, adjusting it to their needs as well. This model also has the advantage that the developers' sole goal and purpose is to improve the software; and not to satisfy some arbitrary deadline, misdesign, or bottom line.
How do user's use the amaroK player?
They use it to listen to music. When you first start the player, it asks you for the location of your music and builds a collection out of it (this is optional but highly recommended to do), which you can then search and sort based on the artist, album, et al. You can then add music from any of the browsers on the left, including the Collection Browser, to the Playlist on the right in order to listen to it; you can also save playlists for future listening. amaroK provides a wealth of other features: you can download the cover art for your albums, lyrics, information about your music from Wikipedia, and similar music you might be interested in from last.fm. But this only scratches the surface of the amaroK experience: it must be used to be truly appreciated.
What will the 1.3 upgrade do for users?
There is quite a long feature list for the upgrade to 1.3 from the 1.2.x series
- Wikipedia artist lookup, a revolutionary feature providing information from the free online encyclopedia.
- Equalizer preset support including the inclusion of 17 presets.
- HelixPlayer engine - Now users of RealPlayer can use the helix engine to play all linux supported Real formats.
- Podcast support, including live streaming and download capability.
- Dynamic playlist mode, similar to the iTunes party mode but better.
- Cue file sheet support for large files.
- New Playlist Browser, powerful and easy to use.
- A queue manager has been added, allowing songs that have been queued for playback to be managed more easily.
- Redesigned sidebar, with improved look-and-feel.
- Cover image shadows
- All of the analyzers available in the player window are now available for the playlist window.
- Optimization to the default block analyzer, greatly reducing cpu usage
Under the Hood
- Automatic download of scripts and themes with KNewStuff.
- Revamped xine engine, including crossfading and easier configuration!
- PostgreSQL database support, to go along with the internal sqlite database and previously introduced mysql support.
- Many more DCOP functions to allow better communication with the player by scripts and third-party apps.
- Scripts can now add menu items to the playlist context menu
- The playlist filter has advanced search capability using Google-like search syntax
- Enhancements to the Smart Playlist functionality
- More crash persistent settings
- and of course, lot's of bugfixes
What are the special features of amarok 1.3?
amaroK is designed around easy management of playlists. Some other distinguishing features are:
- Support for multiple sound engines: this makes amaroK quite flexible in the file formats and audio capabilities it supports, and users can pick the one that best fits their needs.
- A collection database for easy management of a music collection.
- Context browser that displays all kinds of useful information about the currently playing song, things like other songs by artist, similar songs, wikipedia lookup for the artist and lyrics.
- Support for playing radio streams from the internet
- integration with k3b, the KDE cd-burning utility, so playlists can be easily burned to CD to take in the car, boat, or what have you
- Audioscrobbler/last.fm integration, to explore similar artists and other music you may be interested in
When will the product be released?
amaroK 1.3 is released as of August 14, 2005. Maintenance releases with bugfixes, but no great feature enhancements, will be released every two to three weeks through the end of September, at which time the codebase will fork and development of version 1.4 will begin.
Where and how will the product be released?
The product is released as source code to the community. Various Linux distributions package it for inclusion and many users compile it themselves or use community prepared packages.
Are there future versions planned?
The roadmap incudes a 1.4 amaroK release which will remain compatible with the KDE 3.x platform. amaroK 2.0 is planned for the future KDE 4.
Can you describe your company/team?
In the case of the amaroK project, it is a group of volunteer people involved in the development of amaroK. We're not a company so much as we are a conglomeration of like minded music lovers; some of which happen to know how to code. As with most open source projects, amaroK is provided to the public free of charge. We're just a group of folks from around the globe who've joined together to try and create the best audio player out there. In short, we're music lovers making the application we would want to use.
How long has the company been around?
The project was founded by Mark Kretschmann (markey) in 2002.
Do you offer other applications/products/software?
While some of the developers are involved in other software and projects as well, this particular group of developers works only on amaroK. amaroK could be considered a part of the much larger KDE project, which provides a full desktop environment with, well, just about anything you could imagine.
amaroK Live Partnership
Can you describe the collaboration with Magnatune?
We are describing it as the combination of free software with free music. As free software developers, we like the ideas embodied in what Magnatune is trying to accomplish.
Why did you want to work with Magnatune?
We were sitting around one day trying to think of where we could get music content for the next version of the amaroK LiveCD, which is a full Linux-based operating system with KDE and amaroK, which you can run entirely from the CD, and is designed to show off amaroK in combination with the free music also included. Many of us had heard of Magnatune and appreciated what John was trying to do with the label. We decided to mail him and ask.
What are the benefits in partnering with Magnatune?
Primarily in our view, joint promotion, advancing the idea of free music, and getting more exposure for both Magnatune and amaroK.
Why did you want Magnatune music for the software?
We wanted high quality music that could be freely distributed. Magnatune seems to fit that bill quite nicely.
Why did you choose those particular tracks from Magnatune?
We decided to let each developer pick two tracks from the catalogue that they liked. This resulted in a very wide sampling of what Magnatune has to offer. Everybody likes a different genre and other than the fact that they liked them, there is really no explanation.