I typically use Conky to show a ‘Now Playing’ info from my music player on my Ubuntu desktop. But I recently switched to something else, and in this post I tell you more about it!

Fair warning: if you’re allergic to Electron, averse to bugs, and/or against editing text files to enable/disable features ad-hoc, the following app is squarely not for you!

Otherwise, read on to say salut to open-source software Sunamu.

Sunamu: All About The Bling

sunamu music controller
Sunamu is pretty, right?

Sunamu is a simple desktop widget for Linux (and Windows, though that build is experimental) with one aim: to look good.

When installed, Sunamu shows the currently playing song on your desktop, including the artist and track name, album title, and cover artwork (if available).

It works most MPRIS-compatible music players, clients, and command-line tools, including Spotify, Rhythmbox, VLC, Elisa, and more. It can also show lyrics (pulled in from an online source) too.

And that’s pretty much it!

Its developer describes it as a “music controller whose only purpose is to look as fancy as possible on secondary displays”, and is popular with (and has some settings catering to) streamers in particular.

It displays lyrics for the playing track where possible, shows album art, has smooth transitions, and condenses down into a ‘mini’ mode when you mouse away from the widget.

It can run as a windowed app (with a colourful background) but I think it looks best as it does by default: transparent, and in widget mode.

Drag the widget to reposition it on your desktop; maximise it (by dragging it to the top of the display); or resize it (mouse near the edge to find the invisible resize grip) to suit your preferences.

To hide lyrics and disable the the interactive mini-mode edit the ~/.config/sunamu/config.json5 file as per the official online documentation. It’s not hard:

Sunamu: config edits required to look like this

On Linux you can control media using keyboard keys, dock quick-lists, sound applet, etc. Putting album art and quick controls on your desktop is an aesthetic choice rather than a functional one, ergo: out-and-out eye-candy; a desktop embellishment.

The elephant in the room is that Sunamu is an Electron app. This means it’s not lightweight, especially compared to Conky. But, on the flip, if you have a decent amount of RAM, you get to look at something nicer than most Conky config (drop shadows, animations, player controls, resizing, etc).

Short of a sudden and unexpected resurrection of CoverGloobusgosh, how I miss that app — Sunamu is certainly the most attractive, and interactive alternative to traditional Conky setups.

Sunamu is open source software, highly configurable, themeable via CSS, supports Discord rich presence, and works on Windows and Linux (and it may could feasibly come to macOS too, if someone steps up). You can download the latest release from the Sunamu GitHub releases page.

For reference, I used the .AppImage provided on Ubuntu 22.04, though .rpm and .deb installers are also provided. With the latter, I found a progress bar for Spotify only appeared in the .deb version and not the .appimage. If you roll with the .deb be aware that the app will pull in a number of dependencies some of which appear in the Applications grid.

Electron Eye Candy now playing sunamu