Fun Times with Luddites and Zero Tracks on QuodLibet

Wow. That was in-ter-es-ting!

So yes – a couple of the “older” folks were a little wary of moving from cassette to digital format, which put me in the awkward position of defending this archiving project. Kind of the opposite of Paul Bunyan – with the new technology fighting to justify it’s value.

Last week, Quodlibet was finding Zero (of over 17,000) tracks. So there I am unable to play ANY music. Fortunately the old system is still in place, but I’m sure my ears were looking a bit red around the tips.

I thought it might have been an issue with the external drive either in terms of data, format or drive type.

After way too much time experimenting I decided to try looking into the Qoudlibet database. Is it postgreSQL? No. Actually it’s not a database at all. QL uses a “pickled list of AudioFile instances”. “Pickling” is the Python (language) word for a compressed file.

As per the FAQ, you’re supposed to be able to examine this “pickled” songs list:

Python 2.6.2 (r262:71600, Jun  4 2009, 15:54:27)
[GCC 4.3.2] on linux2
Type "help", "copyright", "credits" or "license" for more information.
>>> import quodlibet
>>> import cPickle
>>> with open(".quodlibet/songs", 'r') as songsfile:
...     songs = cPickle.load(songsfile)

(Note import quodlibet only worked for me when running the Python interactive interpreter from within the same directory as the main file. I think there’s that directory could be added to the Python path, but haven’t looked into it yet.)

But the above was returning an error:

Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "/Users/mikekilmer/quodlibet/quodlibet/quodlibet/plugins/", line 104, in __invoke
  File "/Users/mikekilmer/quodlibet/quodlibet/quodlibet/ext/events/", line 81, in plugin_on_song_started
    if not lyrics:
UnboundLocalError: local variable 'lyrics' referenced before assignment

Apparently in the current version of quodlibet you have to also initialize quodlibet: quodlibet.init().

Still no luck. More errors. Back to the Quodlibet Development Group on Google.

In the meantime I tried removing all but one of the directories from the Library. I tried replacing the /.quodlibet/songs cPickle file.

The songs pickle file resides in a directory named .quodlibet which is in your “home directory” and on Unix and Mac OSX this is referenced with the tilde: ~/. It also contains the playlists, lists, config and a few other files and directories. So I backed up ~/.quodlibet to ~/QLbackups and reinstalled the application. Working again. Yay!

Finally I removed the entire ~/.quodlibet directory (backing it up elsewhere), and through swapping components in and out between a fresh install’s ~/.quodlibet directory and the previous one, I discovered that it was two lines under the [browsers] heading in the ~/.quodlibet/config file that were causing the issue:

albums =
background = ketriketriketriketri # (this is the [whitespace ommited] name of one of the tracks from the collection)

Back in business. But wait. All of our playlist files are empty! Fortunately I back up the computer on our QNAP Network Attach Storage system using Time machine. So I was able to open the ~/.quodlibet direcory in the finder (by entering it in the Go>Go to folder field in the Mac finder) and then open TIme Machine, go back a few weeks and “restore” it.

Now we’re back in biz! Sweet.

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