All my geeky stuff ends up here. Mostly Unix-related

iPod on Ubuntu

with 3 comments

The iPod apparently just turned 10 today. Happy birthday iPod!

As it happens, both my kids have an iPod now, together with a docking station that enables them to listen to all of their music whenever they have a chance. Living in the future is fun! I have fond memories of piling up cassettes containing copies of the greatest albums ever, gathered here and there from friends. Blank tapes were quite expensive so we bought them in Germany where they did not levy the copy tax. I owned maybe 100 tapes in total, maybe 150 albums, the equivalent of a half-Gb today. My sons have each 32 times this on a device that fits their small pockets, without talking about the huge difference in terms of sound quality.

Anyway, my 14-year old has a desktop PC running Ubuntu and I wanted him to be completely independent with his iPod. Turns out he cannot.

Plugging the iPod into Ubuntu works fine: a popup indicates you have plugged a music device, the icon even looks like an iPod, and if you click away you end up starting Banshee or Rhythmbox or whatever you chose to handle music on that desktop.

Things start getting ugly when you add music to the device. Files are transferred and definitely stored there but the iPod does not recognize any of it as music, only “unknown data”. I tried re-formatting the device from scratch on Ubuntu but it failed. I had to re-format it twice again after that: first time on a Mac, which created a Mac filesystem on the iPod that was not recognized on Ubuntu (fffffffuuuuuuuuuuuu), and then on a Windows PC running iTunes to re-generate a Windows filesystem Ubuntu can work with.

Still no love. Whatever I put on the iPod is only visible to Ubuntu. I tried Banshee, Rhythmbox and a couple others to no avail. Back to square one.

I know there must be solutions out there: re-format the iPods with a Linux firmware or help the guys reverse-engineer the latest iPod filesystems for open-source support, but I am just tired with this. I just wanted my son to be independent with his music and ended up spending a whole evening just messing around, piling up experiments and wasting my time Googling my way around.

There is no technical reason why things should be this way. This completely artificial lock-in into iTunes is just ridiculous. I do not know yet which portable music player I will purchase next but something tells me it won’t be from Apple.

Written by nicolas314

Monday 24 October 2011 at 11:06 pm

Posted in ipod, Ubuntu

Tagged with , , ,

3 Responses

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  1. Try Floola (


    Wednesday 26 October 2011 at 3:26 am

    • Will do. Not much hope though:
      “[…] any model supporting iTunes except iPhone, iPod touch and nano 6G).”


      Wednesday 26 October 2011 at 8:12 am

  2. well, the only good thing about itunes is genius, so mac or windows are necessary, else you could have used foobar on windows that is one of the most linux like application, that only support windows :-(, well ragnarok has support for ipod i guess too.
    but yeah.

    speaking about portable player, well i had the same guess, and i felt fucked, i have the 160go ipod, and well nothing to compare since archos ( french brand) doesn t do that type of model anymore, and well nobody does it well at that price range .


    Thursday 27 October 2011 at 12:45 pm

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