An iPod under Linux

June 12th, 2006

I finally purchased my first iPod: a black 60GB iPod video model. I had been holding off for years. The iPod sounded nifty, but I just didn’t quite go there.

The thing that finally won me over was the camera connector. It lets you plug your iPod directly in to a digital camera. The iPod can download photos from the camera to its internal disk without the need for a PC. Very slick.

So anyway, we got the iPod and the camera adapter at the Apple store in Cambridge — a quick subway ride from Usenix. They were out of stock on the FM tuner, so I ordered that online.

The next step was to get the iPod working with Linux. I currently have it working with both music and video. Here’s how I did it.

Categories: Hardware, Music, Software

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Comments Feed17 Comments

  1. glandium

    Isn’t rockbox better than linux on an iPod ?

    Reply

    John Goerzen Reply:

    For many things, probably. It doesn’t play video yet, though, and I have no idea if it works with the camera connector and FM tuner.

    Reply

    master gladious Reply:

    The rockbox interface has a cooler look to it and looks more like a Creative Zen Vision. It also is easier to use gnome or the KDE interface with. The ipod linux has a more first made, cruddy look to it. It is a bit harder to use with any linux/unix system though. This is my opinion, but you have yours.

    Reply

  2. Kari Oikarinen

    You did not tell, which version of Amarok you tried. If it wasn’t 1.4, I think you should have another look at it.

    From changelog: “Reworked media device system, the Apple® iPod® support has been improved enormously in the 1.4 series”

    I can’t verify this with my own experience, because I can’t afford iPod :(

    I’m not too happy that you wrote about it, now I want it even more :)

    Reply

    John Goerzen Reply:

    It was 1.4.0a, according to Debian.

    Reply

    Charlie Head Reply:

    I’m using Amarok 1.4.4-r3, and it has been very, very fragile when working with my iPod. It feels like there’s always a good chance something will go wrong every time I try to do something. It has borked my iPod’s disk twice due to crashing while writing a new iTunesDB, and I’ve given up on it.

    GtkPod is obviously the best solution right now. That’s not much of a surprise since it is developed alongside libgpod, the library that almost everything iPod-related on Linux uses at the moment.

    Reply

  3. Eric Cooper

    Instead of mounting /dev/sda2, which might refer to some other USB device, you can use this udev rule to create /dev/ipod:

    BUS=”scsi”, SYSFS{model}=”iPod”, KERNEL=”sd[a-z]2″, SYMLINK=”ipod”

    Then use /dev/ipod in /etc/fstab.

    Reply

  4. Robert

    Just as a sidenote, several players like cowon’s etc. have been able to do the camera thing for quite a while.

    Reply

  5. Anonymous

    You might consider trying out [url=http://ipodlinux.org]ipodlinux[/url], which has become quite solid nowadays. It supports video and audio, and will additionally play Ogg Vorbis, FLAC, and other formats. By default, ipodlinux installs itself in a dual-boot configuration with the standard Apple proprietary firmware.

    Reply

    John Goerzen Reply:

    Unfortunately, that project does not yet support my iPod model (5G/video).

    Reply

    mike Reply:

    i think they have beta-support for the 5g. anyway, the 4g has been in beta state forever also. nevertheless, ipodlinux has worked very well for me for about a year now on it. give it a shot.

    Reply

    Anonymous Reply:

    They do in fact support the 5G; some portions of their wiki just lag behind others. The [url=http://ipodlinux.org/Project_Status]Project Status[/url] page indicates that the 5G has all the important features supported, namely LCD, Input, Hard Drive, and Audio Playback. Just download and run the [url=http://ipodlinux.org/Installer_2]installer[/url] to set up a dual-boot configuration. If something goes wrong, just uninstall, or in the worst case use the Apple Firmware Restore Utility. This procedure will not brick your iPod; you may want to back up your music in case you need to restore, though.

    Reply

  6. Michael Wheatland

    iPod Linux does not support video on the new 5g iPod Video.
    It is able to do simple uncompressed video on the older iPods but is unable to play MP4 or any other iPod format video on any model, and currently not able to play ANY video on the iPod video.
    Maybe soon.

    Reply

  7. mike

    As far as the amarok home page goes it looks like it is an podcatcher. My real question – I use a mod of BashPodder to d/l the podcasts. How do I get the iPod to play them. I DO NOT use Windoze (iTunes). Is iut possible to have the iPod play mp3 files without all the extra crap?
    (gotta be yes – so How?)

    Reply

    John Goerzen Reply:

    Just use gtkpod — it can do this quite easily.

    Reply

  8. Francisco Dalla Rosa

    Hey man, thanks! you saved my life. Been with this ipod for a long time and didn’t try gtkpod thinking it didn’t work with video.

    Reply

  9. Josh K

    Great article! I’m loving your website;

    Reply

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