Rise of the Leviathan

Rise of the Leviathan

Qt4 vs. Qt5 Amarok

Comparing Qt4 Amarok to Qt5 Amarok

3-Minute Read

Amarok Logo

For a long time amarok was my music player of choice. I understand that many people disagree on whether it was a good music player or not, but music in general is a very subjective field so why wouldn’t that extend to players as well?

For me, organizing my music is very important. I use beets for that, which uses MusicBrainz in the background. One inevitability you realize when you start organizing your music that way, there’s almost no player that supports this. Any player I tried so far, be it on desktop or on my Android phone, stumbles over at least one of these:

  • Two different artists with the same name
  • Two different albums from the same artist with the same name
  • The same album in different formats (e.g. Vorbis and FLAC)

On top of this, I spent quite some effort on adding ratings to my music. I added a plugin to beets that lets me sync my ratings from amarok, and I use those ratings to sync only tracks rated 5/10 or above to my phone. I also have dynamic playlists based on rating. Needless to say, ratings are pretty important to me 🙂.

While amarok wasn’t perfect, it was the least awful with all of those. And in Qt4 times, it actually looked pretty good to me.

Amarok Qt4
My preferred layout of Qt4 Amarok

Then came Qt5 and Plasma and things started to deteriorate. Interest in getting amarok ported didn’t really seem to amount to much. There were some individual efforts and small steps, but to this day it’s still pretty far from a stable release. However, the Qt4 version of amarok continued to work fine. More and more desktop integration disappeared (like storing passwords in kwallet), but the core functionality was still fine.

Then I got a new laptop, with a 14" 4K screen. And with it the realization that Qt4 doesn’t have proper support for HiDPI displays. That same amarok layout from before looked rather messy.

Amarok Qt4 on HiDPI
My preferred layout of Qt4 Amarok, on a HiDPI display

I figured I give the Qt5 version a shot, just to see how that fared. They did release a technical preview last year after all, but with some more changes in git since then I took a stab at the latest version from there (snapshot from 2022-01-02).

Amarok Qt5
My preferred layout Amarok, reproduced in the Qt5 version

It works, but it’s very rough at the edges and obviously much less visually refined than the Qt4 version, but it does support HiDPI 😅

The verdict: It might finally be time to move on. Although, I have no idea really where to. Elisa is looking good, but comes with a lot of the same caveats I mentioned earlier. On the other hand, Quod Libet looks like it would really support every collection feature I would like, but it’s GTK based and… well… let’s just say it’s not my favorite toolkit.

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