Winamp Source Code Will Be Opened Up, Company Says

Recently the company currently in charge of the Winamp media player – formerly Radionomy, now Llama Group – announced that it will be making the source code of the player ‘available to developers’. Although the peanut gallery immediately seemed to have jumped to the conclusion that this meant that the source would be made available to all on the announced 24 September 2024 date, reading between the lines of the press release gives a different impression.

First there is the sign-up form for ‘FreeLlama’ where interested developers can sign up, with a strong suggestion that only vetted developers will be able to look at the code, which may or may not be accompanied by any non-disclosure agreements. It would seem appropriate to be skeptical considering Winamp’s rocky history since AOL divested of it in 2013 with version 5.666 and its new owner Radionomy not doing much development on the software except for adding NFT and crypto/blockchain features in 2022. The subsequent Winamp online service doubled down on this.

Naturally it would be great to see Winamp become a flourishing OSS project for the two dozen of us who still use Winamp on a daily base, but the proof will be in the non-NFT pudding, as the saying goes.

57 thoughts on “Winamp Source Code Will Be Opened Up, Company Says

  1. Aw, Winamp. I still have it installed, in a vintage version.
    The plug-ins for various exotic sound formats and other weird things are great, still.
    Hope compatibility remains.

    I also do miss the old Shoutcast network, with all of its strange little video channels and web radio stations from across the world.

    For example, I remember listening to Tangerine Radio (?) which gad played electronic music all time
    or watching some channels that had episodes of Animaniacs (?) running.
    This was years before YouTube had been around.

    1. people who complain about the bloat probably also didn’t bother to de-select unneeded components during installation. you can still install a lean version if you aren’t a lazy foo.

      i do like its media library though as it is capable of sorting my vast music collection properly. where most other media players scramble things, even though i make sure things are properly tagged/named.

      1. No complaints from my side, I’ve always liked the various plug-ins and did a full installation of Winamp itself.
        Just didn’t install the “extras” that were part of some installers (I vaguely remember this).

        This was a thing back then, installation software sometimes had tried to install bloat ware that had nothing to do with the actual software.

      1. Good point. In the “early” days, the internet (or rather, its user base) didn’t have much of a concept here, I think.

        I mean, there was Napster around the time.. Which even popular musicians did use.

        The quality of the videos on the net in question wasn’t high, also.
        Most of us had dial-up, still, after all.

        So it never did rival TV broadcasts or physical media, there was no
        commercial aspect to it, either.

        It was more like a preview, considering the thumbnail sized resolution.
        Anyway, that’s just an explanation, no excuse.

        Also, in addition, distribution rights did vary around the globe, making ownership claims difficult, I guess.

        What’s illegal in on country may not be in another.
        Like for example, streaming police radio (I heard that such things existed in the states).
        Or let’s take “fair use” concept.. Not all countries have or had that.

        Long story short, the whole then-new “international” aspect made things complicated.
        At the time, geo IPs and region-blocking weren’t really a thing yet, for example.

        The principles of certain things were clearly understood maybe, but the bureaucracy surely wasn’t.

        It was another time, I suppose, just like the early 90s (early internet/web) had been a different time to the early days of Winamp/ShoutCast.

        I don’t mean to say that the internet wasn’t being commercial yet, it surely was, considering the many little homepages of the various companies seeking for attention.

        But compared to what we have now, it was very naive, innocent and personal yet.

        Let’s just look at the various handcrafted GeoCities style websites there had been.
        So much creativity and diversity was going on.

        Now it’s all bleak, boring and corporate style. The times surely had changed.

        Even YT nolonger is a platform for the individual to be heard, it’s rather a highly commercialized, capitalized something.
        A mirror image to its mother country, if we will.

      1. Boring UI with Qmmp being based on QT which just looked basic af, and the other just being basic af. winamp has myriad plugins that can still be found and used and just works well.

      2. Audacious was an ok replacement if you had to use Linux, but it always felt like “winamp lite” in a way, and when you were on Windows there was just no need to substitute the real thing.

        1. Which reminds me – I was using Ubuntu something something back in the day, and installed Audacious and thought “ok, this can work”, but it kept crashing or had some other problem so I went looking for an update.

          And that’s when I learned that an update does exist, but it’s not distributed for this less than six months old version of Ubuntu, and I’d have to upgrade the entire f***ing operating system to have it, at which point I flipped the bird to Ubuntu and went back to Windows.

    1. I also hope this includes Winamp 1.55 and 2.95 source, because vaguely remember that at least one of them can run under Windows 3.1x through Win32s.
      Also, version 2 was cool for its cultish character.

  2. From what I’ve read, they aren’t “open-sourcing” it. To me that feels like they’re hoping lots of smarter software engineers out there will “contribute” code improvements for free. That’s like asking someone to work for you for free so you can release a new version and keep the $$$ profits.

    1. It’s not much different to Linux development, I guess?
      Lots of volunteers that do work for free because of an “religious” movement and also let themselves be put down now and so often ?

  3. Under windows I migrated to foobar2000 which is also closed source, but does support plugins. And has gapless playback which I found useful. And then I migrated to UNIX full time and have never looked back.

  4. still the best music player out there for a pc hands down IMHO. If they can keep it lightweight and work well with newer os’s then i’m all on board. But yeah i wish it was actually open source as well…..

    1. It also had an energetic community which did write plug-ins for various formats (Amiga MOD, SID tunes, SPC700 (SNES) music.

      In addition, there also were crazy add-ons that allowed to remote control the player itself.

      For example, by wiring a rotary dial to serial port. Allowed selecting songs fron playlist..

      Then, there were the thousands of themes, styles and skins.

      The scene was as popular as the one for Windows XP or Windows 9x (via WindowBlinds etc).

      Internet Archive has quite some of them, I believe.

  5. I still use a version released nearly 20 years ago. Here’s how you add enqueue using a reg key for Win10:

    [HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\*\shell\Enqueue In Winamp]

    [HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\*\shell\Enqueue In Winamp\command]
    @=”\”D:\\Winamp\\winamp.exe\” /ADD \”%1\”” <– your install path will change to where you have it

    That's it, you can queue up stuff no problem. Its a solid player and I will never stop using it.

  6. I still use Winamp daily. Even a developer / tech guy… I got old. You kids with your newfangled streaming… I still love my collection of MP3’s. And Winamp is what I use. I have three hotkeys that have lasted for 20 years now. CTRL+ALT+MINUS for hide/show and CTRL+ALT+PLUS for pause/resume… numpad plus/minus, of course. Winamp… it really whips the llama’s ass.

  7. I too loved WinAmp in its day, it was ahead of its time (in that time) and it has held up pretty well. But its unique features have now become standard fare in most other media players. Its saving grace may be that it will run on ancient clunkers with low resolution and low color depth. I continued to use it until just a few years ago for that reason on a tiny (for its time) 486 I kept on the porch for music. That has now been replaced by a less ancient clunker phone.
    Hope they do make it truly open source although that doesn’t sound promising. It could perhaps be ported to a small cheap SBC as a media player.

    1. Its saving grace is that it’s not a cloud-based browser-dwelling app that consumes half a gigabyte of RAM, that collects your personal data and tries to push paid subscriptions and ads on you.

      It’s also just simple enough without being minimalistic to a fetish.

        1. But not as nice.

          The other media players all tried to look like iTunes (or were obsolete like the WMP), usually designed to fill your entire screen or at least a large portion of it, yet without providing any real benefit for using that screen real-estate, or they tried to be eclectic and “cool” (e.g. Sonique) and they were clunky to use when you were doing other stuff while listening to your music. They were more or less “look at me!” attempts by corporations and amateurs to catch a part of that early 2000’s rush.

          Winamp was compact or invisible when needed, unobtrusive, but not too pared down, and had a nice playlist that could handle tens of thousands of files without any lag OR taking up all of your screen, apposite search and queue functions, gapless play, replay gain for volume normalization, web radio, a media database that you DIDN’T have to use if you didn’t want it… it could also rip CDs, and quickly convert your MP3 playlist into an audio CD for the car. It also had the best MP3 decoder sound quality on the market at the time, outside of some specially tuned algorithms that weren’t available for the regular users, or outside of some obscure players that were otherwise complete kak to use.

          Winamp even had auto-preset EQ for individual files if you saved the setting in a file. It would load it on the next playback when it detected that particular file. None of the other music players bothered.

      1. Yep, my install isn’t even properly integrated into Windows 10 (See my regkey post above) and it only takes up 10MB. No always-connected garbage, just plays what I want and stays out of the way, using a custom skin. It looks great on my large LCD panel.

  8. Foobar2000 is on my android tablet as I get ready for our first street fair of the season where I provide sound for one stage and DJ as well. Got to get packing, Mosey Down Main!

  9. Somehow I think the .flac .wav playback S/W in Winamp is superior to say VLC or other players I’ve used.
    I still use WinAmp 5.666 because it sounds better playing .flac and .wav than other players. I use a homebrew 24-bit DAC and am an audiophile, as well a repair tech in recording studios. There you learn hi-fi and how to use your ears to discern things. I know, strange observation but looking forward to this app getting updates.

  10. Good lord, Winamp with the StreamRipper plugin gave me the majority of my MP3 collection. I still have 5.666 on my computer to this very day. If anything came of the Winamp code being released to developers, it should be used to update the Android client that hasn’t been updated since the Android Gingerbread days.

    1. I run v5.06, I think I have the installer you mention but I didn’t like it for some reason. I forget what it was, maybe it had some addons that I didn’t specifically tell it not to install, but I fell back to this one and it works really well.

      Not bad for a release from November 17th, 2004.

  11. One (or perhaps two) versions of Winamp actually *worked* for playing corrupted files. Strangely enough, it wasn’t the later versions – despite ticking the ‘corrupted files’ box, it still played them with blips and skips.
    I can’t remember the exact version numbers, but I’ve got a few corrupt files that will *not* play on anything else.
    If *that* code can be revamped (into either a new Winamp version, or other MP3 players), *that* would be a thing!

  12. Every free MP3 player I’ve found for my Android tablets absolutely suck compared to Winamp or even Windows Media Player. Any suggestions for the best players for Android or Windows? Everything I’ve found by searching for “best” is not, IMO.

  13. best ever plugin for winamp was MP3splice
    5 seconds before the end of a track, it’s read ahead the end of the current track, and the start of the following track, and if the waveform matched, it would seamlessly transition the tracks, ti didn’t matter if there was a gap in the lead in/out or lot, or if it took time to load, it was amazing for dance mix CDs, and concept albums <3

  14. I must have looked at that screen shot a thousand times and I kept having this subconscious strange sensation.

    Something’s awfully familiar. The feeling’s so hard to shake.
    Did I forget to wipe that drive? That looks like a playlist I’d make.

    Maybe it’s just a strange deja vu.

    Seriously, that playlist could have come from my computer if I still ran WinAmp

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