Thursday, January 10, 2008

As you've probably heard by now, Aaron has just released a new version of Banshee has just. Good stuff! As part of the blogpost detailing the changes and features in the new version he says:

Alan McGovern has nearly completely rewritten our MTP support and we are close to enabling it by default. The next release should have solid MTP support, and we hope to roll 0.13.3 within the next two weeks. The new MTP support uses libmtp instead of libgphoto2. This decision was made for a number of reasons, though I am really not informed enough to convey them properly.

Well, i never detailed the reasons for the switch in my previous blogpost, so i may as well do it now. I'll also mention the current issues with libmtp for those of you interested in what those issues are.

Reasons for the switch:
The primary reason is that to use libgphoto as the mtp backend, you need svn head of libgphoto and svn head of libgphoto-sharp. This issue is actually a pretty major issue. If banshee wanted to ship MTP support, it would have to ship it's own version of libgphoto and libgphoto-sharp. The other alternative was to enable MTP support by default, but the end-user wouldn't be able to use it until they compiled and installed libgphoto themselves or their distro packaged the required version of libgphoto. This version is likely to be released in the next month or two (i believe), but could take several months to propagate through the various distros.

With libmtp, banshee can run with version 0.2.0 or higher, which means anything newer than Aug 4th 2007. This is a much more workable solution.

Secondly, API: The libmtp API is aimed at mp3 players. Banshees API is also aimed at mp3 players, this makes it significantly easier to map the banshee API to the libmtp API. Several tasks such as getting track listings, uploading tracks, and retrieving tracks are much simpler in libmtp.

Thirdly, with libgphoto, downloading or uploading a track requires copying the entire file to memory in C#, then pushing that into libgphoto (which duplicates the memory usage) then the data is pushed to the device. There is an alternative method whereby i create a unix file descriptor which is then passed into libgphoto and the file is read/written to that. However, this is not ideal as there's a good chance that half written temp files can be left over in the event of a crash.

With libmtp i can pass in a file path and libmtp will write the file directly from that path or read it directly from that path. This means the memory copying is completely removed resulting in much better performance.

Fourthly, Whilest libgphoto can (technically speaking) run on windows, the necessary code hasn't been written to allow this to happen. libmtp can be compiled and run on windows (or so the documentation says). As there is work to make banshee run on windows, this is an advantage.

Finally, playlists. I'm still unsure how to create playlists using libgphoto. It'd require a fair bit of messing around and experimenting for me to figure out exactly how it should work. With libmtp, this is trivial to do.

However, libmtp has some pretty big issues at the moment, which only really came to light a few hours before the release.

If you connect an MTP device and banshee loads it up, connecting a second DAP (of any kind) will make libmtp choke. Once there's an active device, any call into libmtp to list available devices throws a (non-fatal) error. This means if you plug in a second device, you get an annoying error message popping up. If you do own two devices and were trying to copy from one to the other, this is impossible.

There was also an issue linking a device reported by libmtp to a device reported by HAL. There is no sure-fire way of doing this using the libmtp API. Under libgphoto this was possible.There are a few possible workarounds for this, but none of them are ideal.


Anonymous said...

I share the pain....


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