Savanna Says: Perspective on JuK

In this entertaining review, Savanna takes us through her discovery of JuK, a new pearl in the treasure trove of KDE applications. Expect to see JuK ship with KDE 3.2 since it has already made an appearance in the KDE Multimedia module. Kudos to Savanna for taking the time to contribute the review and, of course, hats off to the developers of JuK!

A User's Perspective on JuK
by Savanna

"Juk? What the heck is that?"
"You really should try it."
"But I use XMMS. I love XMMS."
"Well, give it a try. It's sort of like iTunes - a very nice playlist editor."
"Okay, okay...I'll try it out."

And so I did.

That is approximately how the conversation went a few weeks back on the #debian-KDE IRC channel. A person there named "grepper" told me to try it. Grepper knew one thing: I like pretty things. In fact, that is why I like KDE and have since around a year.

I first experienced it when I got a copy of Debian installed on my backup machine. From there, I booted up KDE and started to play around. In about ten seconds flat, I had one of the nicest looking desktops I had ever seen, and I was hooked.

I'm a user, not a programmer. I don't know what makes most things tick in Linux and KDE, nor do I really want to. Only recently, I learned how to upgrade to the latest CVS packages and install an Nvidia driver Debian package without seeing anything but a console line - and without freaking out because I couldn't see a mouse cursor.

Okay, I admit it: I'm a blonde who isn't a techie. I'm learning because it is kind of fun, but I'll only go so far. I know most people who will read this will probably chuckle because this is for a techie site, but it is worth noting that I am a user who has switched her desktop from Microsoft to Linux with KDE. That is a pretty big jump.

So when Grepper talked about my switching from XMMS (comfortingly like a windows application) to Juk (something like a Mac application with lovely KDE tidbits - from my point of view), he knew that I would do so reluctantly.

What a surprise!

Juk is easy. Juk is elegant. Juk is simple.

Juk is awesome.

It opens up as a simple collection list with a space for icons in the left to make more custom playlists with. Nice big icons at the top make it very hard to miss the start/stop/skip functionality of the program. It looks friendly, and it is. Big columns on the right tell you everything you need to know. A search function at the top lets you instantly select things live from the collection list to make your playlist the way you want. A nice little icon in the tray on the Kicker lets you control the application from there as well. You right-click on the left area, create new playlist, name it, and then drag-and-drop from your collection list to your playlist.

You don't need to do anything else: it is that simple.

Every time it opens, it scans your MP3/OGG/Music directories (which you add very easily whenever you like) for any new music files. Alternate light gray and white rows make spotting songs a breeze. A "jump to currently playing song" button on the bottom right makes it really easy to go to where you are, even while you are building more playlists and listening to another. A pop-up track announcement from the Kicker tray with a forward and backward skip button on either side comes up (if you want it) at the change of every song. I find this particularly useful. Right-click on the Kicker tray icon and you get a selection of the standard music player functions. Click on it with the left mouse button, and the entire program pops up. Another click minimizes it once more. There are no flashy player skins from outer space, or separate player displays. This is a simple program which doesn't need many bells or whistles.

Everything is big and friendly.

Big friendly icons make for happy users.

I was hooked. In fact, I was so hooked that after I got the stable version from orth's CVS debs, I switched everything to Juk and no longer use XMMS.
Now, I do miss the XMMS skins, and I had quite a collection, I'll tell you. And I miss the plugins feature for falling asleep and waking up with music - but wheels assures me that this is going to be coded in relatively soon so I'm no longer worried about that.

Other than that, it is a dream come true. There is something to be said for a Mac-design where things are supposed to be friendly and simple for regular users. Juk hits that on the head. I love XMMS but it was sort of tiny on my screen and making a good set of playlists accessible was, at times, kind of annoying. I also like Noatun, but I have some issues with it at the moment - though with the Hayes playlist feature, it was as close to Juk and about as friendly and intuitive as I've ever seen it before (and does have its own very nice merits).

But Juk is...perfect. Well, so far. It screams: "non-coders will use me happily", and that is a good thing.

I love KDE because it is easy to use. Juk follows that example and reminds me, once again, why I run KDE in the first place.

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by Psiren (not verified)
by Bart Verwilst (not verified)

Hehe, i like that site :p
It's.. different... ;o)

by K'an't Thien'k (not verified)

wot is that site supposed to be?

by onoelle (not verified)

As the developer of Yammi ( I really would like to try Juk, but that won't be before I update my whole system to a current distro (Juk doesn't compile on my current configuration).

Anyone tried both applications? I think their concept is very similar, but I myself think that Juk is much better integrated into KDE (as Yammi, so far, also runs on a QT-only system). But maybe there are some good pieces in Yammi that could find their way into Juk (eg. the fuzzy search)? That's why I would like to hear the opinion of people who tried both...

The fuzzy search sounds interesting indeed.

by surfed (not verified)

I have found yammi to be my favourite jukebox as i find interaction and music selection is more refined in it, the only problem is i use it with xmms for crossfading (crossfading is a freaking MUST HAVE on any jukebox) and xmms and yammi never like eachother for more then 10 songs or so.....

by Steve B. (not verified)

I am very happy with JuK, having just emerged it on Gentoo. It's much more useful than Noatun and SplitPlayList

There's one set of UI changes I'd like to see: when viewing the collection list, arrange the songs in a tree format, maybe by Artist, Album, Genre, and maybe Year. The exact heirarchy and tree depth should be user-selectable; I would prefer to sort by Artist alone, but other people might prefer something else. In most cases I can't imagine the tree getting more than 3 levels'd need a boatload of songs to make that really useful.

My reasoning is thus: a large song collection is rather cumbersome to navigate in a flat list. A collapsible tree would give users the option to collapse Artists/Genres/etc that they are not interested in. Also, it would enable users to add a large number of songs to a playlist by dragging that level of the tree to a playlist. Besides, when you're looking for a song to play, don't you do it by classes? I usually remember either the artist or genre before I can remeber the name of the song I'm looking for.

Please note that I would _only_ apply this change to the collection view, not when viewing a playlist. Playlists are by nature sequential, and they should be displayed that way. The existing UI is excellent for that.

by miles (not verified)

The Opera M2 mail client technique of having various 'views' of an underlying set of items looks like a good idea here. All your songs are in some file tree, but you'd like to have a display by date, by artist, by artist after a date... or filter to show only the songs with 'KDE' in the title (only kidding!). This is a powerful mechanism to allow the user to dynamically change the way their stuff is represented, independently of the file system underneath (which will usually remain album-per-directory for music).

I'd agree with KDE multimedia being KMuddled what with so many alternative mixers, etc being available, and artsd being unruly. Time to slim it down (at least on Mandrake, which is many people's KDE showcase) and get it working for new users who can then explore happily.


M2 works pretty well now, by the way, after a slightly troubled start. Worth looking at (Opera 7.21 is current)

by Ryan (not verified)

I completely agree. I have gentoo as well, and of course we love choice (isn't that why anyone has gentoo?). I'd like to see the "song library" list as customizable as possible, with hierarchies or whatever I want. It might be useful to have tabs at the top (browse by artist)(browse by album)(browse by song) where browse by artist is a list of artists, where you can click on and get a list of that artist's albums, and then songs.

by Ryan (not verified)

I'd really like to see a enqueue/dequeue for while songs are being played. I frequently play a shuffle of a playlist or all my songs, and while it's being played, I think of a song that I want to hear. In the new xmms, I can just press "q" on my keyboard and it will play that song next, and then go back to the shuffle. I'd like to see this function in juk.

by Ryan (not verified)

I just found the "play next" menu button. This is good, but I would like to see this expanded more (at least some notification that a certain song is going to be played next maybe? A way to dequeue?) It would also be nice if this was a queue instead of just a "play next"

by Nicholas Fellows (not verified)

I've been using Juk for a while now, its taken over pretty much from XMMS as my defacto player. Most of my files are in mp3 format (this is in forsight of buying a hard disk based player, maybe even an iPod if i can afford one!) I have recently come into ownership of a substantial quantity of mp4/m4a files which dissappointingly juk doesnt like to play.

I was going to have a look at the source code for juk and see if there was any way I could implement this but i dont really know where to start.

I have discovered a couple of tools which enable me to play mp4 / m4a / aac files under linux (XMMS being one of them) i discovered a really useful tool which enables me to convert to wav file its called
"faad" I think mplayer uses it! (unfortunately juk wont play wav's either and recompressing into another lossy format is not a route i wish to travel)

faad also allows the file to be output to stdio, this means it should be a really trivial job to get mp4 working in juk! Please , Please Please implement this feature , or at least give some clues to a clueless person how i might go about adding it myself using these tools; (who hasnt even considered the implications of tag editing!)

nick ...

by niki (not verified)

well... I had a similar problem, and finaly, I tried that...
If you change your mind about recompressing the files...
* If you find a way to play m4a with XMMS, I'm interested!
the following scripts need LAME and FAAD to work...

# m4a2mp3 #
#!/usr/bin/perl -w
use strict;

foreach my $file (@ARGV) {
next if ($file !~ /\.m4a$/i);
my $base = $file; $base =~ s/\.m4a$//i;
system "faad -o \"$base.wav\" \"$file\"";
system "lame -h \"$base.wav\" \"$base.mp3\"";
print "$base.m4a converted to mp3.\n";

# mp42mp3 #
#!/usr/bin/perl -w
use strict;

foreach my $file (@ARGV) {
next if ($file !~ /\.mp4$/i);
my $base = $file; $base =~ s/\.mp4$//i;
system "faad -o \"$base.wav\" \"$file\"";
system "lame -h \"$base.wav\" \"$base.mp3\"";
print "$base.mp4 converted to mp3.\n";

by David (not verified)

apt-get install xmms-mp4

by MattoHippo (not verified)

Check out for the rpm and src's.

I installed the rpm and it worked fine for all of my m4a's. Hope it works for you.

by Chad (not verified)

this works like a champ! Thank you!


by Till (not verified)