I have discovered a few things today:
1. iTunes is great if all of your MP3 files have the proper ID3 tags for track, artist, album, etc.
2. iTunes hurls some pretty extreme chunks when you try to import only a few hundred MP3s that are not tagged consistently.
3. iTunes hurls some pretty extreme chunkage if you try to import about 80 gigs of MP3s, regardless of tagging.
4. iTunes is great at ripping and tagging your CDs, so is wonderful if you do not yet have an MP3 collection of any real size.
5. My MP3 collection consists of about 15,000 MP3s on about 80 gigs, none of which are tagged very well (if at all).
6. Tagging is made easier with a program like MP3 Rage that can extract tag information from all sorts of sources (regular expressions against path+filename, CDDB lookups, etc).
7. Tagging is extremely time consuming and probably one of the most tedious things ever when your files are not on the local machine, but on a network shared drive using Samba file sharing, over a connection with a 10 megabit bottleneck. (And actually, I am bypassing Samba in one direction and using raw, non-ssh rsync, which makes the operation slightly faster).
8. I am beginning to wonder if I am being a little too anal about ID3 tags.