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Alternatives for library management?

792 Views 4 Replies Latest reply: Dec 8, 2012 5:45 AM by Drew Reece (Re:co) RSS
Public Bob Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)
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Dec 6, 2012 9:06 AM

Clearly, Apple has decided that from now on iTunes is a music player only, designed it for use primarily on small screens, and taken steps to remove most of it's functionality to manage large libraries.  Many of the removed features were those which helped maintain (duplicate finder) and organize (multiple windows, lack of detailed view of fields except in song view), and navigate (any time you change a list or view, you go to the top of the page rather than returning to where you were).  What's left is a program that is bright and pretty on a small screen and makes it easy to buy and play new music.  Clearly, they are positioning the product as a good-looking alternative for when they introduce a streaming service. 

 

While the program has never been ideal for managing large libraries it has been "good enough" to preclude the development of many alternatives for the relatively small percentage of users with more than 10,000 songs or those with extremely varied or classical music tastes, especially since it was closely linked to the store and could easily sync with Apple products.

 

Although my immediate reaction was, like so many others, to revert to 10.7, the Apple ecosystem is such that eventually there will be no option but to give in to a later version.  Already, many of the Mac apps will not work on my OS X 10.6.8 , 2G of RAM mini, and to move to OS X 10.8 will, according to all accounts, require a new machine with more memory. 

 

So far, my search for something to use as a "back end" data manager for iTunes seems to have turned up WinAmp for Mac, Songbird, and Doubletwist. Can anyone provide insight on any or all of these programs, specifically on issues such as field customization, sorting and playlist creation, and whether or not they can intergrate well enough with iTunes that I can still use it to sync my iPod and download podcasts and iTunes U materials while doing my maintenance and organizing on the alternate program? Or are there other programs out there that I may have missed?

 

After having spent far too much of the last week restoring as much functionality as I can to iTunes 11, I'm hoping to finally get back to the rest of my life and look forward to useful responses to help put an end to this unwelcome distraction forced on me by Apple.

Mac mini (Early 2009), Mac OS X (10.6.8)
  • Wenchita Calculating status...
    Currently Being Moderated
    Dec 7, 2012 5:50 PM (in response to Public Bob)

    +10000000

  • Drew Reece (Re:co) Level 2 Level 2 (310 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Dec 7, 2012 6:45 PM (in response to Public Bob)

    It will really depend on your needs & everyone will need to do their own work reviewing the options to see what fits best. There are more apps listed on http://alternativeto.net/software/itunes

     

    I doubt you will find a tool to get iTunes U downloads unless you can grab the feed urls, the site is browsable via HTTP but you still need iTunes to find stuff easily. In all honesty if iTunes 10.x was good enough two weeks ago why isn't that the case now? There are a lot of posts about reverting to 10.x, do you have a backup?

     

    Support will eventually cease but I'd expect to be considering a new Mac around that time (maybe 2-3 years away, but Apple don't announce this) so perhaps iTunes will be improved, or the alterantives will be better. Or you'll have fallen in love with Android & Linux instead

     

    Songbird has plugins that can add syncing to devices, but you should look to see if it supports DRM'd files if you are a heavy iTunes Music or Movies purchaser.

     

    You may also consider media managers that run servers like Plex or XBMC if you hope to share to other screens via Airplay or similar 'announced' services, they handle video better than iTunes, but music is lacking.

     

    If you are happy 10.6.8 why fret about updating, especially if the iTunes changes were a step to far. Mountain Lion is a broad change too.

  • Drew Reece (Re:co) Level 2 Level 2 (310 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Dec 8, 2012 5:45 AM (in response to Public Bob)

    I'm not sure what spec your Mini is but you may be better with a Firewire drive or a Thunderbolt disk (if that is supported). I have found USB is OK, but Firewire 400 is better (than USB 2.0). The same is generally true of Firewire 800 vs USB 3.0. Thunderbolt should be very fast.

     

    USB is shared amongst other devices whereas other protocols have better constant bandwidth etc.

    Have a think about whether you would like to replace or upgrade the HD(s). The external one should be simple, but the Mini will be an involved process. There are guides on iFixit.com for almost all the models. If you going to get inside the Mac consider upgrading the RAM too, it helps speed things along for another few years.

     

    I'm also stuck with not knowing what to do when this Mac dies. I imagine I'll have to 'put up with' 10.whatever and suffer Apple's fixes to iTunes etc. I don't mind change, but when features dissappear & tasks become more complex I get annoyed . I think it will still be possible to find a second hand 10.6 supported Mac but that is just delaying the inevitable, as is force installing 10.6 on a newer Mac. 10.8 should be more bearable with a trackpad, but on this Mac Pro with a scroll mouse it just feels too klunky.

     

    I suspect they will add features back to an extent & some of the polish should be better in a few versions. Apple keep testing the water with what they can change, and then they respond to the backlash (a little).

    Maybe grab an Ubuntu LTS release burn a disk & start playing, parts of it are nice & 'Mac like' but other parts are just weird & Linux'y. They seem to be adding a radical new way to work aswell - the HUD. You can use the Ubuntu boot disk & still install apps to test but you lose the changes after a reboot. You could play with SongBird or other music players for a few hours. I think Ubuntu are doing thier own cloud storage for files/ music too.

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