How iTunes sucks

I ended my last post with a good word about iTunes. While I won’t retract that good word (the iPod interface really is much better than before), I will add a more specific complaint that I was just reminded of: when iTunes hangs, it often (usually?) forces me to reboot.

This evening I was importing a CD that I’d forgotten to clean before sticking in the slot. After telling iTunes to import the songs, I went off to play around in Safari. Several minutes later I realized that the import should have finished, and I went back to iTunes. Three or four songs into the import the progress bar had stopped. I click the little circled X that’s supposed to make iTunes stop whatever it’s doing. A minute or two of spinning beach ball later, I tried to quit—still no dice.

At this point I know exactly what’s going to happen, so I make sure I have no unsaved files in any application. I right-click on the iTunes icon in the Dock, see the dimmed Application not responding item at the top of the menu, and choose Force Quit. The iTunes window disappears, but the little black triangle pointing to iTunes in the Dock stays.

iTunes cannot be restarted because the system apparently thinks it’s still running. Choosing Force Quit again doesn’t help. Opening Activity Monitor and choosing Force Quit from it doesn’t help. Bringing up Terminal and invoking kill -9 with the appropriate PID doesn’t help. Logging out is impossible because the system thinks iTunes is running and can’t stop it. Restarting is impossible because the system thinks iTunes is running and can’t stop it. Shutting down gracefully is impossible because the system thinks iTunes is running and can’t stop it. All that’s left is to hold down the power button until the machine turns off, then push it again to start up. A hard reboot.

I’ve become disgustingly familiar with this procedure over the last year and a half. Yes, most of the times iTunes has hung up have been when I’ve tried to use programs like Senuti or iPodDisk to extract a song from my iPod, something that is verboten even though I own the song and just want to use my iPod to move it from one of my computers to another (pardon my Cory Doctorow). But that’s no excuse. No other program acts like this and no program should act like this. That iTunes is supposedly Apple’s great subversive advertisement to Windows users (“things just work on a Mac, just like iTunes”) makes it even worse.