Default Music Player in Ubuntu 12.04

Jason Warner jason.warner at
Tue Nov 22 05:56:36 UTC 2011

Agh. Broke my own rule and sent an email when sick and full of meds.

First, I should have said "clear to me".

Second, I'll detail the thinking (in no particular order).

1. Based upon broader community feedback[1], it seems the preference is RB.
Now, we have to be careful with that, obviously, but we simply use that as
a data point.
2. Size of both projects on CD. Alone, not a deciding point, but another
data point.
3. Stability in core function. Banshee has many features, though the
general impression is that it has stability issues with frequent crashes
and hangs needing force quits. RB is known to be quite stable.
4. User Experience (including usability, overall feel, responsiveness).
Banshee has the edge here, though can be less responsive (UI hangs). RB has
some UI challenges that were detailed in Charline's usability report.
5. Speed in start up and operation. This seems mostly a draw. Tweaks can be
made to Banshee to improve cold startup time, though it does have moments
were it hangs mid operation, but they seem more related to overall
6. ARM - Big unknown for Banshee.
7. GTK3 - RB is already GTK3. Banshee is almost there, but carries more
risk as it would be new binding stack

So these are the various data points we have (among others, but I consider
these the most relevant).

Third, what do we make of this?

200 million users. When I'm thinking about the desktop I'm thinking about
200 million users. I'm thinking about what it means to have that many
people using our desktop and apps. I'm thinking about what they expect out
of a desktop and default application set. I'm thinking about what they will
tolerate and what would cause them to write off our product.

How often would you use an email client that lost your draft email, or
worse, your entire email library? A backup solution that couldn't recover
from its own backups? A web browser that crashed, for whatever reason, and
lost all your tabs etc? Most people using the traditional "Linux Desktop"
are vocal, though forgiving, when it comes to applications. I firmly
believe that mass market users will neither be vocal nor forgiving and they
will not tolerate systems they can't trust or feel are unstable. They
simply won't use our products and apps.

IMO, the default apps need to be the best foot forward, the showcase for
Ubuntu. If a users first experience with our product is poor, we have a
problem from which it will be very hard to recover. Rhythmbox, while not
pretty or as featureful as Banshee, does the core function more reliably
and more stably. And it isn't about number of features or breath of feature
scope, but rather how well the application does what it says it does. I
would rather have a less featureful application that is
stable, reliable and responsive. This, to me, is Rhythmbox in this
discussion. It isn't the prettier of the two, it doesn't have the same
feature set but it does its core function more reliably.

I believe the default experience must make a user comfortable and willing
to explore the system more. If we can make the default experience a great
one, everything else would be additive as a user can always go back to a
known stable platform if they choose. The converse, however, is not true.
This is why I believe we must prioritize stability, reliability and
responsiveness very high, to ensure a net positive user experience using
the default system.

So, in the end, it is clear to me that Rhythmbox is the right choice for
Ubuntu 12.04. Banshee will always be in Software Center for those who want
to use it, and I hope many do choose to use it as diversity in application
usage will ultimately make all of them better.

I hope I was able to articulate my thoughts well enough. I'm still a bit
medicated and fuzzy headed from getting over a recent flu :/


[1] -

On Mon, Nov 21, 2011 at 5:14 PM, Jason Warner <jason.warner at>wrote:

> Hi Everyone -
> Thank you all for sending feedback[1][2][3] on the default music player
> for 12.04. It is clear the right decision for 12.04 is to make Rhythmbox
> the default music player. Thank you, above all else, for keeping the
> conversation cordial and making the decision about what is best for Ubuntu.
> Cheers,
>   Jason
> [1] -
> [2] -
>  [3] -
> (this
> thread)
> On Fri, Nov 18, 2011 at 12:47 PM, Jason Warner <jason.warner at
> > wrote:
>> Hi All -
>> Thanks for all the feedback on default music player. We have to nail this
>> down soon so if have any further feedback for the list, please send it now.
>> I want to take a final decision for Precise by Monday, November 21st.
>> Thanks everyone,
>>      Jason
>> On Tue, Nov 8, 2011 at 9:17 AM, Jason Warner <jason.warner at>wrote:
>>> Hi All -
>>> During the recent Ubuntu Developer Summit we discussed moving from Banshee back to Rhythmbox as the default music player for Ubuntu 12.04. No definitive decision has been taken yet (major default apps tend to have many integration points and broader discussions are needed before we can make that decision, such as the Thunderbird decision in Oneiric) as we need to kick off the further discussion.
>>> It was an interesting discussion overall and I wanted to reach out to the broader Ubuntu community to get further feedback. So, feel free to reply with your thoughts in this thread.
>>> For context, here are some of the discussion points.
>>> Areas of concern in Banshee were stability, start-up time, the overall resource intensive nature of the application and how responsive an upstream they were to Ubuntu specific needs. It was noted that Banshee is by far the better UI, but many people experienced significant issues in stability thus making it feel less usable.
>>> Areas of concern in Rhythmbox were U1 music integration, usability and how active an upstream they were. Most people in attendance felt that Rhymbox "just worked" but needed quite a bit of UI/usability work to make it a great default application choice.
>>> I would like to welcome further feedback on the proposal to move back to Rhythmbox here. Thanks in advance for your input.
>>>   Jason
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