Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Music Players for Gnome

Welcome to the Free Desktop review of popular music players for the Gnome desktop!

Unlike KDE, Gnome is blessed with a lot of choice for music players. I had always ambled between different music players as I moved between Linux distributions over the years, but still I struggled to really meet my needs each time. Having recently upgraded to Fedora 11, I thought I'd try all the major options and see which one really did suit me.

I have been using various flavours of Linux for years and am no stranger to compiling, but I approached this article in the guise of a more normal user. So I stipulated that I would be using the version of each that is available in Fedora 11 as a normal user would. Like most people, I'm busy, so any major issues usually meant an abrupt ending to my experience with a music player.

I will review the players in the order I tried them:

Everybody likes to interact and listen to their music collection in their own unique way. Features important to me:

  • Library management
  • Rating of music
  • Categorization of music
  • Collection browsing
  • Stability
  • Ease of use
  • Bug free
  • Clean user interface
  • Nice looking user interface
  • Desktop integration; system tray

What is not important to me that others might consider:

  • iPod / portable music player synchronization
  • Visualizations
  • Multiple user interfaces (curses, web, etc)
  • UI flexibility e.g. minimal-UI-version

About the ratings

Some of my ratings may seem harsh. I have a lot of respect for the developers of all the projects, and generally find them very impressive, and a lower rating for a project is not me trying to suggest that it is poor for everybody. The ratings are for meeting my needs, so if it seems a little low for your favourite music player, bear in mind I probably have different requirements than you do.

I also did not report bugs for players that quickly fell down on me. If I'm hitting serious issues nearly immediately, I feel it is probably going to be something that afflicts more than just me and is symptomatic of deeper project management issues. I do report bugs for software that works for me.

Banshee 1.4.3 - 4/10


Banshee Album Problem

Banshee hogging CPU

Banshee is gaining in popularity and reputation, and has a very active developer base. It loads up fairly promptly, and has a very nice, professional look. The layout is easy to work with and the user interface is very polished. However, I was surprised to find it quickly unravelling for me.

I could not work out how to monitor a directory, despite it being a stated feature. You could set a library location but that seemed to have no effect as new additions were not picked up. It also took me a while to work out how to refresh my current library (I didn't initially think to look under 'Tools' - I would expect this under 'Media'). It didn't seem to pick up on 1 album being an album, instead listing the same album name 80 times. After adding a few albums, I supposedly had 343 albums when actually it was less than 10. Then, after a several hours of using it, all of a sudden my laptop started to sound like a rocket and began heating up. The culprit was Banshee, consuming 95% CPU for seemingly doing nothing else than playing music, and doing so for considerable time - I was fairly patient. Eventually I had had enough, killed it, and moved on to the next contender.

Given the number of contributors, I was a bit underwhelmed by the state of Banshee. I had used it in the past, before the 1.0 version. Then it worked fine and did what it did well and without problems while not looking as spectacular as it does now. Feature overload? Too many chefs? Mono-related issues perhaps? It had plenty of features I didn't touch, including automatic playlist generation extension (available from yum), Gnome-do integration (I don't use Gnome-do), and iPod/device syncing (I don't own an iPod or portable music player).

Rhythmbox 0.12.3 - 3/10


Rhythmbox crashing

I have tried Rhythmbox intermittently since it first arrived on the scene with a bang, being the first popular iTunes clone for Gnome and GNU/Linux. My experience had always been the same - unstable. I think I first tried it back in 2004. This is the first time I'd tried since 2007, had it improved?

It looks good, although not as nice as Banshee. It detected the albums properly, consumed low CPU when playing, and things were looking up. That was until I started seeking in tracks. First, I tried to skip through a 1 hour mix, and it crashed. I tried to give it a chance, and avoided longer tracks, but after a while it crashed again when skipping through a shorter track. Whilst I was doing a fair amount of skipping through tracks, it's still not acceptable.

They have had a long time to stabilize it after the project originally captured imagination of Gnome community many years ago, but I can only conclude that the project seems to have lost its way given its perpetual instability. It does have iPod/device syncing, which may appeal to some.

Amarok 2 - 5/10

Amarok 2

Amarok Splash Screen

Amarok Configuration Failure

Amarok has long been the king of the open source music players, with many Gnome users despite the Qt-based KDE-dependent program not quite fitting in with Gnome in terms of looks or integration.

The first thing that strikes you is the horrific, garish splash screen. It's massive and it's ugly. I was already dreading having to see it every day, and it stays there for quite some time as Amarok drags all its none-Gnome baggage into memory.

Once Amarok has loaded, it does look lovely although not as clean as Banshee. I especially liked the prev/play/stop/next buttons. However it became quickly apparent - for those of us not endowed with blazingly fast machines - that the UI is just way too fancy. Every interaction seemed to incur a delay, whether it's for an animation or just because there's too much going on.

Amarok also takes the kitchen sink approach. For example, by default the lyrics pane is open. I really can't imagine that the majority of users would consider this a priority feature, especially not something to have in front of you when you first open up your music player.

In the end, the (lack of) integration got me before I really got started. It failed to play (no sound) and the configuration screen was just blank. It was probably fixable with a bit of effort, but I was already unenthusiastic by this point. I'm sure it has tons of useful features, pretty much everything ever conceived related to music players.

Exaile 0.2.14 - 7/10


Exaile Lost Ratings

Exaile is a fork of the Quod Libet 1.0 codebase, taking forward the intuitive user interface (which got significantly changed in subsequent Quod Libet development). Exaile (as Quod Libet before it) somewhat takes inspiration from the Amarok 1.x user interface which focused on playlists on the right and browsing vertical folder-like lists on the left. Exaile introduces a tabbed interface, which is handy for organising playlists whilst listening to music.

I was happy, for the first time, with what I was getting out of the music player. It was easy to use, worked somewhat the way I wanted it to, had a well designed user interface, and contained all the features I required. The only feature it lacked was being able to play directly from your collection - double clicking on something added it to the active playlist.

It was going well for a few days until I got hit by a nasty bug. All my song ratings got reset. Even worse, this is a longstanding bug originally reported 2 years ago. It seems that it is finally fixed by a new database backend in the upcoming 0.3 version but that is not yet listed as stable on the website. Frustrated, I moved on.

Audacious 1.5.1 - 4/10


Audacious is a fork of BMP, itself a fork/port of XMMS.

It is way too simple for me - no library management or rating facility.

Winamp/XMMS was cool back in the day when computers weren't so capable, when Windows Explorer was considered a satisfactory way of browsing your music collection, and its pixel-refined skinned UI with tiny pixel fonts looked beautiful next to the grey-everything-else. Now its UI looks a bit weird as the skins don't look so sharp with larger fonts which look too big for the UI, and its just a very manual user interface requiring not-cool amounts of time to manipulate your music. If you have a fresh collection then you spend a lot of time generating new playlists.

I managed to make it hang just by using a scrollbar when it wasn't even playing, and was pretty unimpressed overall. However, the version in Fedora is very out of date with 2.1 being listed as the stable release on the website, so take my cynicism with a pinch of salt. Even looking at the screenshots for 2.1, it looks nicer - with more suitable fonts, for example.

MPD / GMPC - 7/10


MPD [Music Player Daemon] is a server-client solution. I didn't really need this architecture, but GMPC [Gnome Music Player Client] looked quite decent. It took a bit of configuring/tweaking to get it to run - I had to comment out 'optional' settings for PulseAudio - but nothing too tricky.

The version in Fedora 11 lacks rating support, which requires MPD/GMPC from GIT. Generally I was impressed by how good it was - responsive, very stable, easy to use, although GMPC tended to be more functional than pretty (not necessarily a bad thing). However, I wanted ratings, and was not prepared to compromise on this feature, nor - as a normal user - prepared to start compiling versions from GIT.

The ability to centralize your music collection if you have a home network makes MPD and its clients a very serious option for anybody who has a decent home setup.

Quod Libet 2.1 - 8/10

Quod Libet Album List

Quod Libet Paned Browser

Finally, I arrived at Quod Libet. I had used Quod Libet some years ago and been impressed with it, but with it's original homepage MIA, now solely represented at its project page, the project seems to have encountered a few periods of inactivity. Version 2.0 heralded a redesign of its user interface and other components, so it presented a fairly different experience to Exaile.

It worked very well without any noticeable bugs. For some reason I thought the version in Fedora 11 was out of date, so started with 2.0 which I downloaded. When I later found 2.1 in yum, I moved to 2.1 without any issues whatsoever.

The only question marks for me lie with some of the UI design choices. It always plays from the current songs; nice sometimes but should be optional. This means you can't really browse and add to playlists because when it reaches the end of a track it jumps to the current browse context, which is often not something you wanted to be listening to as you trawl your collection.

A big annoyance is that playlists don't remember their order, and as soon as you click on something else, the order is gone. Also the seek bar is a popup - like a horizontal volume bar (I would have taken a screenshot but when there's a popup the Gnome screenshot facility is blocked) - and small, making it hard to use with any accuracy on longer tracks. I much preferred the seek bar in Exaile.

You also need to install plugins from SVN if you want a system tray icon, which will catch a few people out. You don't need to compile anything, just check them out as instructed, still slightly breaking with my 'normal user' approach but I had finally found a music player I was happy to use so I gave in on that one.

Quod Libet supports regexp playlist generation which has got to appeal to the geeks out there. :-)

Other media players:

  • XMMS2 - too early in development, graphical clients in Fedora 11 looks far too feature light for me, but one for the future
  • BMPx - when I did try it briefly, it crashed, website is offline, development status unknown
  • Muine - too simple for my needs, development stopped long ago
  • Tell me in the comments if I missed any!

What am I using now? d-_-b

Quod Libet: It's the best by far in that it never crashed or misbehaved, had very few bugs, if any (not encountered any), and never used an inordanent amount of CPU. It met all of my requirements once I worked out the need to download the plugins. What it does, it does incredibly well, although it may lack a few features that other people need, and there are UI refinements to be made. I am surprised it is not more popular, they need a marketing guru and a flashy website like Banshee or Rhythmbox which were far worse experiences but far more reknown projects.

Runner up / backup players? :-)

MPD/GMPC: If I wasn't using Quod Libet, I'd have to pick the combination of MPD / GMPC as the best altenative. It was stable, the GMPC user interface was nice to use, and I'd probably go to the effort of compiling the version with rating support if I didn't have Quod Libet working fine. I suspect I will soon be using MPD anyway so I can listen to and control music on my main stereo using a server so I don't have to rely on carting my laptop to wherever I want to hear my music collection.

Exaile: I did slightly prefer the Exaile user interface and features over Quod Libet, and if it didn't have a major bug and other glitches, I would have rated it higher. I look forward to trying out 0.3 when it is available.

Most disappointing >:-(

Rhythmbox: I just don't understand how it has gone so wrong and been so unstable for so long. I've tried it nearly every year since 2004.

Banshee: I was also disappointed with Banshee because it seemed so promising a few years ago but looks to have suffered from serious feature creep.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

The Year of the Linux Desktop

I came across this draft of an draft article of mine from 2007:

"I've been a Linux user since 2001 - or even 1998 if you count my university days in the labs at Manchester University. Ever since I first booted into a nice new Gnome 2.0 desktop - the release that caused so much controversy and was slammed for being a backward step; those people seem to be quiet these days - I have heard every year predictions of each year being the year of the Linux desktop.

"I've got some bad news for you. It's not coming soon. Not this decade, probably not the next. The Linux, GNU/Linux, Ubuntu, Fedora desktop or whatever name you want to give it, it won't be squashing Windows in this era or the next.

The good news? We don't need a year of the Linux desktop. We advocates, Free Software contributors, users, and evangelists, we can keep at it, improving our world in a way that empowers users instead of entrapping them."

I don't think "The Year of the Linux Desktop" is a relevant term any more. The Free desktop is a long term ideal that began with Richard Stallman and the GNU Foundation back in the 1980s and will continue long after computers transcend the forms we understand them to be today. Knowledge is power, and Free software is knowledge. The steady growth of the Linux desktop against a company as ruthless as Microsoft shows that the arrival of a Free software desktop as the dominant operating system has an air of inevitability.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Moving A Friend To Fedora: Part 1

A few nights ago a frustrated friend popped over for the evening to work out his Vista woes on his Sony Vaio with the option of a shoulder to cry on. He is off on holiday for a week and needed his laptop to keep in touch with his business. The backlight could not be turned down and you essentially needed sunglasses to use his very shiny, expensive laptop. I knew Vaios are supposed to be cool, but this was taking it to an necessary level. :-)

I had been pushing him to use Linux for some time, and now was the time to make him jump. He runs a couple of personal Linux servers, so theoretically the jump should not have been that big, but he was apprehensive all the same. As familiar as he was with the server side of Linux, he was almost technophobic about having to adjust to the differences between Windows and desktop Linux - he has to answer as many as 200 emails a day as an essential part of his business. He still has a Windows desktop PC to fall back on, so when a few hours of muttering and driver installing and Vista reinstalling had gone by, I encouraged him to install Fedora. He agreed and I handed him a LiveCD.

As a Linux user for several years now, 10-15 minute installations are nothing new to me, but to a Windows user who is used to taking a day to get an OS up and running with essential apps, the 15 minute install routine made him very happy and relaxed that maybe Fedora was up to the job. However the backlight controls still did nothing and it took me nearly 2 hours to find and implement the solution that included compiling the CVS version of a utility. This he was less impressed with, but when I juxtaposed this against the futility of the situation in Vista, he acknowledged that it was an improvement.

Identifying email as his primary function, he started with the default Gnome mail client Evolution and was immediately unimpressed. Large icons and a busy user interface mean that screen real estate is wasted and the area devoted to listing and reading emails was simply too small on his 1200x800 screen. I recommended Thunderbird, which he quickly downloaded and tried with a more positive first impression. (I also recommended GMail but don't seem to be able to sell him on the idea of webmail done right. Hotmail has burnt many fingers.)

OK in spite of initially being impressed with fedora we are back to the same problems

/ emails appear in different font sizes necessitating constantly adjusting the font settings
/ emails wont display images even though I've hacked the value that's supposed to enable that
/ always get asked about plain / rich text on sending
/ cant work out how to install java for Mozilla because of 50000 packages with java in the title
/ email apps real-estate bloated hard to get enough info on the screen
/ cant disable mouse pad like in windows when using external mouse keep selecting wrong thing

I stopped there because with approx 200 emails a day clicking on several bits of **** doesn't work

ok vista might not be perfect but at least it doesn't take an ex software engineer over a day to install it and then edit into a satisfactory platform

its the small things. Someone should release "their" pre-configured install with all the right font sizes etc minimalism much better than plastering huge buttons everywhere

Some of his gripes are just a bit wood for the trees. The day of configuring is also required for a Vista/XP machine, just he's done that a hundred times or more so isn't scared of doing it. Of course, he also does not factor in that once you set up a Linux desktop the likelihood is it'll be running smoothly for years, thus saving all those days spent reinstalling Vista/XP after it slowed to a crawl or the latest worm has done the rounds.

However it can not be ignored that there are some definite flaws in Gnome development. Last week I thought I'd discovered a great way to interface from Java to the native file selection dialog in Gnome, only to find the dialog that it pops up is some disused, broken, obselete mess. (i.e. it just shouldn't be there if it's unmaintained). There is a certain level of QA missing but, I guess, that is the role of the community when it comes to Free Software.

When my friend gets back, we'll have another session and I'll see if I can work those issues out. However, he does have a point. Evolution hasn't gone forwards in terms of it's user interface in a long, long time from what I can see with the caveat that I do not follow development closely nor use it.

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Ubuntu On The Road To Bloat

I boot my Ubuntu laptop and log in. Shortly after logging in, the IO onslaught begins. I open up a terminal and 'top' exposes the offender 'trackerd'. I begin the motion to kill it. This is a familiar sequence for me, something I have done every day since, well, so long ago I can't remember the exact day I started doing it. A few weeks, at least. Today I hesitate. I have been impatient, unforgiving, and dismissive of Tracker - the application 'trackerd' serves - because of how it renders my PC unusable. I usually 'kill' it so I can resume my daily online routine, but today I decide to wait it out, to let it run it's course.

This means I can't browse the web. Well, perhaps I can, but not using Opera which is my browser of choice. For while 'trackerd' is indexing my home folder, Opera hangs for up to 10s at a time. This is not actually the fault of either Tracker or Opera, but instead a consequence of poor Linux kernel releases which have occurred at an unfortunate time for Ubuntu because the Ubuntu team have chosen one of them for Gutsy and are stubbornly in their refusal to take a chance on next, imminent kernel release. I sense that my current frustrations are soon to be borne out across the globe on the desktops of users who do not have the knowledge to deal with it.

I have tried several things. Firstly I tried to disable Tracker so that trackerd never comes alive to hog my resources. I used the official 'tracker-preferences' application - Indexing Preferences under System->Preferemces. When that didn't work, after rebooting I had a minor epiphany that doing the same as the super user (sudo ...) may be the answer. Still, after another reboot, 'trackerd' is going strong. At least I can rule out prophet as a prospective vocation. I tried disabling Tracker in the start-up programs dialog that is obscurely named 'Sessions' in Gnome. That didn't stop it either. None of these have had an effect after multiple reboots. It is hauntingly reminiscent of Windows. I can't uninstall it because the meta-package ubuntu-desktop requires it (and uninstalling that opens a can of worms I really don't have time to deal with).

"Preferences" - I prefer Tracker off but it's going to run anyway!

It must be said that I am using Gutsy Gibbon, the development version of Ubuntu. So I should anticipate some problems, but it's not problems for me that I'm worried about. I've been using Linux for years. I can fix something if I really have to, I can tweak my system and solve my problems. It is those making the transition from Windows to Linux that I am worried about. They hear how stable and wonderful Linux is, but then boot into something that is attacking their harddrive from day one. That's not a good impression to make.

After an hour of waiting, eventually another process usurps 'trackerd' at the top of 'top'; 'tracker-extract'. Perhaps my desktop is going to be returned to me? No, not yet, it soon goes away and 'trackerd' resumes control.

I'm sure that Tracker is a nice application, much in the way Google Desktop on Windows can be nice for people who use it. However, I am not happy that the Ubuntu powers-that-be have decided to impose Tracker upon us in the way they have. At the very least, make it unintrusive - much like the update manager, have it ask permission to do things. A nice system tray icon and notification that it would like to index your data, thereby introducing itself, that would have been an intriguing surprise and I could opt for it to eat my resources at a moment that is convenient for me, instead of the most inconvenient moment when I first log in and really want to be using my desktop. Or I could opt to disable it without having to dig and find out about it the hard way.

Finally after an hour and a half, my hard drive stops grinding. The familiar shine of it's activity LED satisfyingly fades. I pause to wonder if Gutsy will be the Windows ME of Ubuntu releases, one so problematic that when the next (ironically LTS) release comes out, the new release looks better than ever. I'm sure Windows 2000 would not have had so many plaudits had Windows ME been half decent or even never seen the light of day.

I'm sure eventually the Ubuntu developers will solve this, in this release or the next. I'm hopeful this problem won't affect too many people - I have a few SVN repos that perhaps take more "indexing" than the usual /home folder will require. I'm just worried about the increasing featuritis of Ubuntu. Vista has hit the headlines for it's outrageous requirements, poor performance and compatability. Surely now is a time to be careful about adding too much, careful about following in the footsteps of Microsoft who have traditionally met faster computing with more computing-intensive software. By bucking the trend and releasing something light, we can impress users with the efficiency of our open source world. Gutsy Gibbon will not be welcomed on older computers, and I fear the trend of Ubuntu will be to keep adding "new features" in further releases and going further down the heavy hardware road.

Hopefully now it's had it's initial uninterrupted playtime, perhaps Tracker - with all known options set to disable it - will now leave me alone to work in peace.

Monday, 27 August 2007

Linux desktop going backwards?

Disappointed to find out that the upcoming version of Ubuntu will not be featuring the Completely Fair Scheduler improvements that accompany Linux 2.6.23, I decided to roll my own kernel on my Gutsy-installed laptop so I could enjoy the benefits anyway. I'm not unfamiliar with this - I used to use Gentoo and tried a variety of custom-build kernels "back in the day" when 2.6 was raw and significant improvements were fast and furious. These days the differences between kernels and new features tends to be small so I haven't had to delve into kernel compilation since switching to Ubuntu but I have been lured back into it by the poor quality of Linux 2.6.22 (various IO issues) by Linux standards and the massive performance gain of CFS in terms of desktop responsiveness and predictability under load.

If you know your way around Linux, compiling a kernel isn't that difficult. There's plenty of good guides around for the popular distributions - I used this one for reference - and was pretty quickly done with that part. The only tricky bit is if you care about 3D acceleration and have ATI or nVidia graphics chipsets to cater for. My laptop comes with an nVidia graphics chipset. The various Ubuntu-specific kernel compilation guides recommend using the driver installation package from the nVidia website, so I grabbed that and ran it.

What the hell is this? I have to QUIT X to install these drivers? I'm relatively long in the tooth with Linux and I have never had to quit X to actually accomplish something like that. Hell, I have upgraded my entire OS (think Ubuntu Breezey -> Dapper -> Feisty -> Gutsy) without* quitting X. And this bloodey driver has the balls to demand I quit X so it can compile itself, place itself in a few directories, and modify my xorg.conf file if I let it?

* Of course at some point you have to restart various things... but whilst installing / upgrading software, being able to continue using the software in memory is a UNIX norm.

Almost as galling as this backwards step in Linux desktop configuration is the reaction I got when I posted this in the Ubuntu forums. People seem to think it's completely OK to have to crap out to a terminal-only environment to do this. The Windows mentality of "please reboot" as soon as a gentle breeze picks up seems to be creeping into the much more robust Linux arena.

I hope this is an isolated package and not a trend. Please, nVidia, sort this out. We should not have to quit X just to install your drivers. Even better, be useful and donate some funds to the Nouveau project so we don't have to rely on your binary blobs any more.

Monday, 20 August 2007

Ubuntu frustrates but Vista angers

My new Acer laptop came with Windows Vista Home Premium preinstalled. I quickly installed Ubuntu on a separate partition - keeping the Vista install for the time being. I use Ubuntu Linux as my primary OS. However for a moment, I was pleased to have kept Vista around. Despite having over 6 years of experience with various flavours of Linux, I could not get it to play a DVD in the 30 minutes it took for my girlfriend's patience to run out, so for that single moment Vista had a use. Also, how can I meaningfully discuss the merits or pitfalls of Ubuntu without experiencing Ubuntu's primary contemporary competitor, Vista, firsthand?
This morning I was attending a meeting of predominantly Windows users, a good opportunity to get some Vista-time under my belt. I booted into Vista to set up Eclipse (a Java development environment although I'd not yet installed Java - I was going to after downloading Eclipse) so I could run through a few development issues with them. I downloaded Eclipse; the version I needed is distributed as a 125MB zipfile.
It is important note that I had only run Vista on 2 occasions prior to this - once when the laptop arrived and the aforementioned DVD incident. So, this was a "clean" Vista install with only the freeware version of AVG and Opera installed by me. Anything else is either a preinstalled application by Acer or part of Windows.
Once Eclipse was fully downloaded it should have been simple. Vista supports "compressed folders" out of the box, as did its predecessor Windows XP. Nothing new here - open, copy, browse to chosen location, paste. The result? Barely 7k/s unzip speed. Shocked, I think to myself, "Something must be wrong!" Well, AVG was scanning files - so I stop the scan, and try again. Problem solved? Nope - it steadily improves to a paltry 20k/s unzip speed. That is disgusting. Some will probably shout, "What do you expect, you only have Vista Home Premium!?" I'm sorry, but that just does not excuse this. I am truly appalled.
Naturally, I took screenshots. Thankfully MS Paint still works.

Unzipping Vista's impotence
Just to make matters worse, after losing patience with 15 minutes of waiting for the unzip operation to speed up, I attempted to cancel the unzip operation. Explorer hung. My Vista experience is only a few boots old and I'm already experiencing crashes. And they want this OS installed around the world in people's homes?
Maybe I have to mess around in Ubuntu to get around DRM centric formats like DVDs, but at least it's moving forwards as an OS and not backwards - Vista really made me cringe and I'll probably install XP to get on with any Windows-oriented work tasks in the future.

Friday, 17 August 2007

What happened to Firefox?

Firefox... what happened to you? Consuming gross amounts of memory, slower and slower as releases go by. You were supposed to be a slim browser usurping Mozilla by virtue of simplicity, shedding the feature creep and lack of engineering that had convoluted the Mozilla suite. Now you have become the very thing you were created to kill: a bloated browser.

I installed Opera today. It may be closed source, but it's a breath of fresh air - fast, snappy, simple. Innovative features (speed dial, notes) and a clean, minimal UI. In general it just works and is a lovely UI experience.

Another option in Ubuntu/Gnome is Epiphany but it just doesn't have the polish that Opera has.

I originally posted these thoughts in the Ubuntu forums here.