I have used a multimedia keyboard in Linux for years. Without buying the cheapest keyboard available, it will invariably have a few extra buttons. There are a number of programs for Linux that will let you make use of these extra buttons. HotKeys, Sven, and LinEAK all work pretty well for setting up the multimedia keys. I use to use LinEAK myself. I now use GNOME.GNOME has its own utilities for assigning keyboard shortcuts. Under the GNOME preferences, there is Keyboard Shortcuts. It is just a matter of assigning the keys to the action. For the longest time, I made use of just the volume keys. I could launch my web browser and do a few other things but just never bothered.
I recently started using Rhythmbox as my music player. I used to use XMMS. In many ways I consider XMMS to be superior. You cannot edit MP3 ID3tags, which Rhythmbox makes extensive use. It only supports playback of music files. XMMS can be setup to playback AudioCDs or video. Rhythmbox does not support any visualization. Besides all that it does work pretty nicely.
Rythmbox can setup playlists. It does organize your music by Artist and Album. I already organize my songs in an artist/album directory hierarchy. It supports streaming music. It has a simple clean interface. Most importantly, if you have configured your multimedia keys in GNOME, you can use them to directly control the playback in Rhythmbox. I typically load all my music, rather than some select playlist, and let it play on random. Now, when I am busy doing something, can just hit the next button to advance a track rather than switch to my music application. It may seem like a simple thing to be excited about, but it fits my purposes exactly. Hopefully this has opened some possibilities to you.
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