Playing Music (and a Bit More) with Byte

25 January, 2021

For the most part, I like my software simple and focused. Software that does one thing, does it well, and with the minimum of frills.

That goes for the music player that I use on the Linux desktop. I only need something that plays music. I don’t need equalizers, harmonizers, transmogrifiers, or anything that makes the hearts of so-called audiophiles flutter.

While idly leafing through the elementary OS AppCenter recently, I came across Byte. It’s a music player that (gasp!) plays music. It can do one or two other things, too, but at its core Byte is a music player and nothing else.

Let’s take a quick look at it.

Getting Byte

As I mentioned a paragraph or two ago, you can get Byte in elementary’s AppCenter. If compiling source code is your thing, you can grab the source code from GitHub.

There’s also a FlatPak, if you prefer to install your software that way.

Using Byte

Byte looks more like an Android app than desktop software. And that’s not a bad thing.

Byte’s main window

When you first start Byte up, point it to the folder containing your music. Byte scans the folder, and any folders below it, and gets ready to play your songs. You can also click gear icon in the top-right corner of the window, select Import Music, and point Byte at a folder containing songs.

Once your music is loaded, Byte’s main screen lists the last 100 songs that you added to your music library. Click on a track to play it.

You can also play tracks by clicking on the Songs, Albums, or Artists tabs to view a list of each. Again, click on a track to play it.

A song playing in Byte

Creating a Playlist

Sometimes, you want to listen to a certain artist or a certain type of music — for example, ambient while working or death metal while exercising. You can focus your listening using a playlist.

To start off creating a playlist, click the Playlists tab on the main screen.

Byte’s playlist tab

Then click the Add New Playlist icon.

Adding a playlist to Byte

Type a name, and optionally, a description for your playlist and then click Add.

The playlist in Byte

You’ve got a playlist, now what? Go to the Songs, Albums, or Artists tabs. Find what you want to add to the playlist and then click the ellipsis button. Select Add to Playlist and then click on the playlist.

Adding a song to a playlist in Byte

Do that for every song you want to add to your playlist. When you’re ready to use the playlist, go back to the Playlists tab and click the playlist.

Playing songs in a Byte playlist

Then, click the Play or the Shuffle button.

If there’s a way to import existing playlist files into Byte, I can’t find it.

Listening to Internet Radio

With Byte, you’re not limited to the music on your hard drive. You can also tune into your favourite internet radio stations.

Do that by clicking the Radios tab. Then, click the Search internet radios button. In the screen that pops up, type all or part of the name of the station you want to listen to in the search field and then press enter.

Byte searches something called the Radio Browser API which accesses data about internet radio stations. Byte displays anything matching your search term.

Finding internet radio stations in Byte

Add the station by holding your mouse pointer to the side of the search result and then clicking the + button.

A list of radio stations in Byte

While the Radio Browser API is quite extensive, it doesn’t contain everything. I can’t find a way to drop the URL of an internet radio station into Byte.

Final Thoughts

Byte doesn’t have all the bells and whistles. And that’s fine with me. Byte does what I need it to do, and does that in a compact package. That makes Byte a music player that’s very well suited to me.

Scott Nesbitt