lienmp3: How far we’ve come

Ordinarily when a program fails to deliver as badly as lienmp3 did, I’m content to roll it into a post with some other remainders. In this case though, I’m going to make an exception.

Everything about lienmp3 is likely to be disappointing to you: The download link was hidden, the source code is as much as a dozen years out of date, the interface is loud and poorly arranged, and ultimately, even though it would compile and run, when comes time to play music, lienmp3 just flat quits and returns you to the prompt. It’s a collection of faults.

So why mention it at all?


No, it’s not the abundant use of color, even if that’s more than I could ever ask for. And it’s not the relatively easy navigation and on-screen key legend. Even that is a bit … mangled.

If I have to be honest, it’s because I’m sentimental. :\

Almost a decade ago, I was pushing people not to discard 800Mhz machines. Five years ago that had risen to 2.5Ghz. Now I find myself suffering the dreadful weight of the web on a 12-year-old Pentium 4. Times change.

So when the home page for lienmp3 claimed it was (at some point in time) quite usable on 90Mhz Pentium-grade hardware, and could possibly work on slower machines if you were willing to downgrade to mono output … I felt a little nostalgic.

A boast of that nature just doesn’t happen any more. Nobody tries to align their software with the hardware of 1998; it’s just assumed that you’re running multiple cores and double-digit gigabytes of memory. Console software isn’t valued by its ability to transfer to sub-100Mhz CPUs any longer.

And claiming a foothold on the Pentium-era hardware means lienmp3 ostensibly falls into a discrete class of software, on par with things like mjs and a few other ancient titles, that were striving for lower system specs at a time when “lower” meant pre-1996. šŸ˜

So forgive me if I hold up a broken, poorly arranged, difficult-to-find mp3 player on the grounds of a claim I can’t even verify. In this case, it’s just interesting to look back, and see how far we’ve come.