Using an iPod in Linux
iPod + Linux = iPodLinux
The iPodLinux Project takes Linux and puts it on your iPod. It is a port of the uClinux kernel that has been customized to run on the iPod hardware, and it includes Podzilla as a GUI OS. iPodLinux boasts the ability to dual-boot between Podzilla and the regular iPod OS, so if you feel like trying something completely different, give it a shot.
If you do run into trouble, relax. I had a little trouble myself getting everything to run smoothly. Be warned that some of the drivers still are a little flaky. The modules used when running the iPod over Firewire are sbp2 and ohci1394. One of my test systems was a Red Hat Fedora Core 3 system, running the 2.6.10-1.741_FC3 kernel downloaded and installed with up2date. Note: the stock kernel with this distro has a known bug that makes using your iPod with USB a nightmare. Most of the time, there were no problems, although the sbp2 module would hang when I tried to unload it by running modprobe -r sbp2 as root. Once, I had to remove the ohci1394 and reload the ohci1394 driver for my system to see the iPod. Of course, your mileage may vary, based on your kernel version or the chipset of the Firewire card in your system.
If no amount of plugging/unplugging the iPod or loading/unloading the modules gets Linux to see the iPod, don't panic. This happened to me, and the one sure-fire way I found of getting my system to see the iPod was to boot the machine with the iPod plugged in. It's not exactly elegant, but it is effective. Watch your distribution's release notes, and consider helping to diagnose any bugs you experience.
Resources for this article: /article/8210.
Bert Hayes has been a Linux user and administrator since the dark days of the 2.0 kernel. He is an RHCE and a co-author of Snort for Dummies. His hobbies include cycling and restoring an aircooled VW bus.
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