Linamp, The IRL Winamp

Anyone who first experienced music on computers using Winamp probably shares a memory of seeing that classic UI for the first time. Everything about it was a step ahead of the clunky, chunky interfaces we were used to, and even though it was supposed to be unobtrusive, it was hard to tear your eyes off that silky-smooth spectrum analyzer bouncing out your favorite MP3s.

Recapturing a little of the Winamp magic is the goal of Linamp, an physical version of the classic media player. It reproduces the Winamp UI on a touchscreen LCD with a wide aspect ratio that almost perfectly matches the original layout. Behind the display is a Raspberry Pi 4 with a 32 GB SD card, with all the important connections brought out to a board on the back of the case. The case itself is a treat, as it borrows design elements from another bit of retro gear, the mini-rack audio systems that graced many a bookshelf in the 1980s — and powered many high school parties too, if memory serves.

To recreate the case, [Rodmg] designed a sheet metal case and had it custom-made from anodized aluminum by PCBWay. He also printed a bezel for the display that looks very similar to the Winamp window border, complete with control icons. Where the build really shines, though, is with the work [Rodmg] put into the software. He matched the original Winamp UI very closely, both in terms of layout and performance. The pains he went to to get the spectrum analyzer working, including a deep dive into FFT, are impressive.

The results speak for themselves on this one, and hats off to [Rodmg] for the effort and the ride on the nostalgia train. We don’t know if the recent announcement of Winamp’s impending open-sourcing will have much impact on this project, but it might result in a flood of new Winamp builds.

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.

Raspinamp: It Really Replicates Questionable Activities Involving Llamas

In the late 90s as MP3s and various file sharing platforms became more common, most of us were looking for better players than the default media players that came with our operating systems, if they were included at all. To avoid tragedies like Windows Media Center, plenty of us switched to Winamp instead, a much more customizable piece of software that helped pave the way for the digital music revolution of that era. Although there are new, official versions of Winamp currently available, nothing really tops the nostalgia of the original few releases of the software which this project faithfully replicates in handheld form.

The handheld music player uses a standard Raspberry Pi (in this case, a 3B) and a 3.5″ TFT touchscreen display, all enclosed in a clear plastic case. With all of the Pi configuration out of the way, including getting the touchscreen working properly, the software can be set up. It uses QMMP as a media player with a Winamp skin since QMMP works well on Linux systems with limited resources. After getting it installed there’s still some configuration to do to get the Pi to start it at boot and also to fit the player perfectly into the confines of the screen without any of the desktop showing around the edges.

Although it doesn’t use the original Winamp software directly, as that would involve a number of compatibility layers and/or legacy hardware at this point, we still think it’s a faithful recreation of how the original looked and felt on our Windows 98 machines. With a battery and a sizable SD card, this could have been the portable MP3 player many of us never knew we wanted until the iPod came out in the early 00s, and would certainly still work today for those of us not chained to a streaming service. A Raspberry Pi is not the only platform that can replicate the Winamp experience, though. This player does a similar job with the PyPortal instead.

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Winamp Reborn With The Adafruit PyPortal

One look at the default Winamp skin is sure to reawaken fond memories for a certain segment of the community. For those who experienced the MP3 revolution first hand, few audio players stick out in the mind like Winamp and its llama whipping reputation. No, the proprietary Windows-only media player isn’t the sort of thing you’d catch us recommending these days; but it was the 1990s, and things were very different.

For those who want to relive those heady peer-to-peer days, [Tim C] has posted a tutorial on how to turn Adafruit’s PyPortal into a touch screen MP3 player that faithfully recreates the classic Winamp look. As you can see in the video below it certainly nails the visuals, down to the slightly jerky scrolling of the green track info which we’re only now realizing was probably the developer’s attempt to mimic some kind of a physical display like a VFD.

With minimal UI functionality, playlists must be created manually.

[Tim] has even included support for original Winamp themes, although as you might expect, some hoop-jumping is required. In this case, it’s a Python script that you have to run against an image of the original skin pulled from the Winamp Skin Museum. From there, you just need to edit a couple of lines of code to point the player at the right skin files. In other words, switching between skins is kind of a hassle, but you should at least be able to get your favorite flavor from back in the day up and running.

But before you get too excited, there’s a bit of a catch. For one thing, the Winamp UI isn’t actually functional. You can tap the top section of the screen to pause the playback, and tapping down in the lower playlist area lets you change songs, but all the individual buttons and that iconic visual equalizer are just for show. Managing your playlists also requires you to manually edit a JSON file, which even in the 1990s we would have thought was pretty wack, to use the parlance of the times.

Of course, things could easily be streamlined a bit with further revisions to the code, and since [Tim] has released it into the public domain under the Unlicense, anyone can help out. As it stands, it’s still a very slick media display that we certainly wouldn’t mind having on our desk.

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These Trackpad Winamp Visualizations Really Whip The Llama’s Ass

As much as we like a good clean Model M specimen, those curly-corded clicky behemoths are somewhat lacking for certain flavors of gaming. There aren’t any blank keys to override, and there sure isn’t a full-color trackpad that you can write apps for. [Gus] has such a keyboard: the Razer Deathstalker Ultimate which features the SwitchBlade UI. He made himself this sweet audio visualizer for it that extends Winamp visualizations to the Switchblade UI.

[Gus]’s hack is built on the Tiny3D visualization framework. It does what you might expect—reads the visualization values, sets them up for display on the trackpad, and renders them to said trackpad. [Gus] uses some of the 10 programmable keys to change colors on the fly, and the result is pretty awesome. As [Gus] points out, this is just the beginning of what the plugin can do. You’ll need the Razer SDK to get started, and you can get the other ingredients from [Gus]’s repo. Once you’re done with this, you could try auto-dimming your keyboard backlight.

Of course there are demo videos after the jump. Come on.

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PC Side IM-ME Hacks

 

[Paul Klemstine] is working on some PC-side software hacks for the IM-ME. We’ve seen a lot of hardware hacks for this device, such as controlling the display, firmware flashing, and using it as a spectrum analyzer, but if you don’t want to alter the device right away you can try [Paul’s] collection of hacks. Working with the code developed by [Ben Ryves] there is support for using the IM-ME as a command prompt, to control Win amp, and as a wireless keyboard. Crack out your C# skills and develop the next feature for this inexpensive device.