Dear Lifehacker, I'm hoping you can help me with my iTunes problem, which drives me bananas! Despite recently updating my aging XP laptop with a shiny, new Macbook, iTunes runs so painfully slow on both machines as to render it virtually unusable. I'm plagued by 'spinning beach ball' freezes constantly, no matter what I do - booting iTunes, playing a song, copying music to devices. Every action, every button press results in a loooong wait. (Sometimes over a minute.)
Most of my 150gb music library resides on a Linux file server, shared via NFS. (I've also tried Samba share - no difference!) I use my laptop for wirelessly streaming audio and video to my stereo and for managing music on my iPhone. Can you suggest any fixes or alternatives to iTunes that will allow me to play and manage my music via my laptop without the excruciating freezes?
I'm fairly sure the server itself is not the issue. Despite it being an old computer, I can quickly navigate to the files themselves and they play instantly if I use another app like VLC. The server is not set up for use as a workstation, so managing music and devices directly from there is not an option. Thanks, Tim
iTunes is, to put it bluntly, not a very flexible program. If you operate in exactly the way it suggests and make no changes, it will generally work OK — though its update process remains an embarrassment in 2010 and the Windows version is a lot sloppier than the Mac release, despite the former sitting on rather more machines. But on either platform, the more you try to customise the experience, the better the odds of something going drastically wrong — and using a networked drive is often a cause for frustration.
I can't offer any specific advice on your networking problem, beyond the obvious thought of making sure your iTunes installation is working OK (removing it and reinstalling it might be worth trying, even though that sounds like very Windows-centric advice). If any of our Mac-meets-Linux expert readers have more specific thoughts, please share them in the comments.
As for iTunes alternatives, the two which get the most mileage around here are definitely Songbird and doubleTwist. Both are good options, but with one massive caveat: using them to sync with an Apple device is a decidedly hit and miss process, as Apple makes frequent firmware changes which are hard for any developer to keep track of. Sorry not to be more helpful, but it's a hard truth to avoid: iTunes is a massively popular platform but not one that's easy to use in more complex scenarios.
Yours in sync, Lifehacker