Having ripped and converted all my CDs, it was time to play back the mp3 files on my Ubuntu box. I knew that I’d need to install some codecs which aren’t shipped with it by default (for legal reasons), but that wasn’t too tricky. A couple of quick commands later and I was able to play back mp3 files in the default media player, as well as preview them by hovering the mouse over them in the file manager.
What I hadn’t expected, however, was that my preferred music player, Amarok, should fail to play them. Even more annoyingly it didn’t bother to give any useful error message, it just kept zooming down the playlist not playing song after song after song, unwilling to stop but unwilling to actually play anything either. Not good 🙁
At first I thought it was confused about the location of my files. Previously I’d used Amarok to play the FLAC files, but they didn’t exist on the drive anymore, replaced by the mp3 files in a different (but similarly structured) directory. Perhaps it was still showing the FLAC files, but was skipping through them because it was unable to play files that weren’t there anymore. It seemed logical to me, so I double-checked the directories it should be monitoring, told it to re-scan the whole collection, restarted a couple of times, deleted the preferences from my home directory, told it to re-scan the collection again, and finally gave up.
It took a while to dawn on me that perhaps it just couldn’t play mp3 files, because everything else on my machine can. Eventually I twigged and a quick google found that I’m not the first person to have this problem. Sure enough the fix presented on that page worked (after logging out and in again), but a useful error message from Amarok would have got me there a lot faster.