The need to be thin!
I don’t consider myself a “power user” when it comes to how I listen to music in general, and most of the time I’ll use whatever media player is installed by default with my distribution. Only recently I started actively tagging and editing metadata about the songs I own, so you could safely say that if I can listen to music while I work, I’m a happy camper! Music has become an important part of my daily activities, whether at work, driving or at home. As a matter of fact, much like “Rob Gordon" played by John Cusack in “High Fidelity”, I can come up with a soundtrack for several different times of my life.
For most of the time I’m happy with media players that flood my desktop with a variety of “supplemental” information about the current track or album being played on my system. But I’m well aware that all of these bells and whistles come at a hefty price unless you happen to be running a beefed up system with a ton of memory. My current systems are probably considered to be in the “beefy” category, but just because I have some “spare” memory laying around, it doesn’t mean I want to burn some megabytes for the sake of getting some “bling factor”.
Don’t get me wrong, I can appreciate some of the features that lets you view your music habits or lets you browse through your collection, displaying album cover art in 3D. But once the coolness factor is over, it all boils down to one thing: I just want listen to my music! That is why I was truly excited when I learned about Radio Tray the other day, a fairly small and easy to use online radio streaming player for the desktop.
Carlos Ribeiro, Radio Tray’s lead developer makes it very clear that the objective for his project is not to compete against the many different media players out there, but only to provide a simple and intuitive interface for those who only want to listen to online radio stations. It took only a few minutes playing with the current version (0.5) to see that Carlos stuck to his word!
Adding new online stations
Once you’ve installed Radio Tray in your system (currently there is a *.deb file and Foresight Linux already provides it via its package management system, but you can always use the source, Luke!), you can launch its minimalistic interface by finding it in the Sound and Video menu section of your window manager of choice. Alternatively you can run radiotray from the command line, but the end result will be the same: a spiffy looking icon showing up on your system’s tray.
Adding new radio stations couldn’t get any easier, as there is only one important piece of information that you need to know before hand. Simply right-click the Radio Tray icon and choose “Config radios…" from the context menu (Figure 2).
Then add a new radio, providing a name and the url to its streamed playlist… and that is it (Figure 3)! Now you can enjoy the tunes of your favorite online radio stations and feel good about not needlessly squandering your resources around.
Another factor that led me to take Radio Tray for a spin was that python is the language dujour for its development and the fairly small number of dependencies involved in building it. In fact, if you’re running one of the popular GNU/Linux distributions out there, then you should have all you need. Carlos has done a pretty good job at keeping the code simple and easy to follow, so anyone who’s tinkered with pygtk before can aspire to contribute to the project. Those who have taken the time to provide feedback and report issues or file for new features will agree that the level of attention to user satisfaction is pretty high for such a young project!
I have already taken the liberty of adding Radio Tray to Transifex.net so that people can start translating this awesome little project!
Let a thousand online stations bloom!
So if you’re an online radio fan out there who is feeling the urge to try something new, I highly recommend Radio Tray for your daily dose of streamed content. Add on top of that a little bit of Radio Paradise and you’re sure to enjoy a great day at the office, home or wherever you may be!