Jeb Wilkins

Coding and climbing in Cumbria.

Sony Walkman and Id3 Madness

My girlfriend wanted an MP3 player for her birthday - this seemed simple enough, figured I’d just get her an iPod. A bit of research later and it seems like Ubuntu doesn’t support current Nano’s. A trip to a local electronics store and I find theres now some nice looking Sony Walkmans, similar size, capacity, etc with good battery life so I get one of those. And so the journey begins.

Initially I assumes it would be an MTP device - Walkmans certainly used to be. Turns out its actually a USB Mass Storage device instead, which should be even simpler - just copy the files onto the drive, hell I can even use Rsync for syncing, thats cool.

Now I enter the world of id3 stupidity - id3v1 doesn’t handle wierd characters in song names very well, and id3v2 has a couple of common varients v2.3 which most media players seem to support, and v2.4 which all the gstreamer software supports - and the two aren’t compatible so sound-juicer/rhythmbox/banshee all generate mp3’s with tags that don’t show up on the Walkman (or many other dap’s by the sound of it) - not much use.

The second problem is that the Walkman relies on the album art being included in the id3 tag - which neither banshee or rhythmbox put there (or sound juicer for that matter). The current solution seems to be to force the Walkman back to MTP mode, where banshee can hand the player the mp3 file and metadata separately and the device will maintain is database without reading from the id3 data. This which means an updated libmtp and hal-info file so next on the list is to rebuild the latest copies of these from debian experimental and see if that solves any of my problems.

Failing that I think the new version of banshee that came out last week may support the Nanos - so I may be back to using an iPod - the best supported media player on linux is the most proprietary, how ridiculous.

As an aside there is and id3 muxer in development for gstreamer which will generate the v2.3 tags most DAPs seem to need - unfortunately there seems to be no momentum from the gstreamer boys to get this included in the distribution, the patches have sat dormant in gnomes bugzilla for a year. Next obvious item on the list would be to add album art support to sound-juicer, would be an interesting GSoC project.