Chapter 16: Ubuntu and Your iPod

This article is from a new book published by No Starch Press: Ubuntu Linux for Non-Geeks: A Pain-Free, Project-Based, Get-Things-Done Guidebook by Rickford Grant. This excerpt covers using your iPod with Ubuntu and it is full of tips, tricks, and helpful pointers. Reprinted with permission from No Starch Press, all rights reserved. More information about the book and its autho

         Ubuntu Linux for Non-Geeks: A Pain-Free, Project-Based, Get-Things-Done Guidebook
         by Rickford Grant
         August 2006, 360 pp. w/ CD
         ISBN 1-59327-118-2
         No Starch Press (

Ubuntu Linux For Non-Geeks is a hands-on, project-based, take-it-slow guidebook. Using immersion-learning techniques favored by language courses, step-by-step projects build upon earlier tutorial concepts, helping readers absorb and apply what they've learned. The book doesn't talk down to readers or overwhelm them with geek-speak. Instead, it makes them feel comfortable using Ubuntu, allowing them to hit the ground running and perform tasks like a seasoned pro in no time at all.Ubuntu Linux For Non-Geeks covers all the topics likely to be of interest to an average desktop user. Inside, you'll learn to:

  • Download and install free applications, games, and utilities

  • Connect to the Internet and wireless networks

  • Configure your hardware, including printers, scanners, and removable storage devices

  • Watch DVDs, listen to music, and even sync your iPod

  • Tackle more advanced tasks, such as converting RPMs to DEB files, compiling software from source, and handling software based on Java, Python and Tcl/Tk

Rickford Grant, author of Linux for Non-Geeks and Linux Made Easy (both No Starch Press), has been a computer operating system maniac for more than 20 years. From his earliest days with his Atari XL600 to his present Linux machines, he has been the guy at the other end of the computer help line for family, friends and colleagues. Currently residing in Raritan, N.J., Rickford spends his working hours as a teacher, and his free time cycling along the Delaware & Raritan Canal or annoying his neighbors with his Nyckelharpa (Swedish key fiddle) playing.



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Vivian Chen (Linux Guru)'s picture

ok I get it but I also found similar linux solutions @


Anonymous's picture

how do u transport music into banshee i have music in my music file on my computer but how do i transport ht music to banshee so i can put it on my ipod!

may be i can have a try ! it

anderry's picture

may be i can have a try !

it is very good !

IPOD nano G5 working on latest UBUNTU 10

Anonymous's picture

Hi All

Just to let you know that the ipod Nano G5 works perfectly on the Beta version of 64Bit Ubuntu 10. Even though this is a Beta OS, it works first time. No driver updates.... amazing And my girl friend is happy she does not need to use windows XP or itunes again.




Pixelated Dwarf's picture

Anyone know about Ubuntu and the Iphone? I like both although I would really like to have the same functionality (or better) with Ubuntu and my Iphone that I do with other OS's. Yes, I know I can "jailbreak" it but I would rather have native support.

iTunes in VM - Updating will brick it.

Anonymous's picture

Just a note about using iTunes w/ XP in a VM. I know this is an old article but still there is not Apple approved solution to this whole iTunes/iPod thingy...

I was running iTunes w/ XPSP2 in a VM using VMWare 6.x and iTunes prompted me to update my iPod. Hey, sure why not! It started the process by erasing my iPod and the download the update but it couldn't find the iPod to remount it and do the update. It bricked it. Luckily I had a mac nearby and just did the refresh there and brought it back to life albeit factory fresh with no tunes.

Banshee does lot more

Viktor's picture

"...if you do happen to lose all the data on your iPod or somehow corrupt its system, you can just use Apple's iPod Updater while in Windows to bring it back to normal and repopulate its song library from your hard disk...."

I actually managed to corrupt the data on my iPod. Run Banshee, detected the error, asked me to correct it and did so in less then a minute. Also, Banshee has the Sinc option - whatever one puts/removes in/from the library, automagically gets updated on the iPod.

Ipod Touch !

Anonymous's picture

Has anyone heard of how I should mount this or make it show up otherwise, the system does not see it at all.

iTunes with a virtual machine

Mark Hewitt's picture

The problem with all these workarounds is that they don't offer the handiest features of iTunes - like the ability to automatically sync just the changes in your music library. I have almost 60Gb of audio on my PC, changing frequently, and manually updating individual albums is just a huge hassle. I ended up setting up a virtual machine (using VMware Server 2, which is free), and it loads in a couple of clicks and runs very fast, even on my old pieceacrap desktop machine, and gives you full iTunes functionality in a convenient windows. Here's the guide, if it's any use to anyone:

mounting ipod in ubuntu 8

pushkar bhatkoti's picture

hi guys,
Here is what I did to mount my 80 gig ipod in ubuntu 8

push@trudy:/dev/.static/dev$ sudo apt-get install ipod-convenience ipodslave-dev libipoddevice-dev

note, it will popup a new window u just need to point ip add and mount point.


verfy if ipod is really mounted:

push@trudy:/dev/.static/dev$ df
Filesystem 1K-blocks Used Available Use% Mounted on
/dev/sda1 185921652 72180244 104371500 41% /
varrun 1553284 276 1553008 1% /var/run
varlock 1553284 0 1553284 0% /var/lock
udev 1553284 52 1553232 1% /dev
devshm 1553284 0 1553284 0% /dev/shm
lrm 1553284 39792 1513492 3% /lib/modules/2.6.24-23-generic/volatile
/dev/sda2 185921652 72180244 104371500 41% /media/ipod

u can see /dev/sda2 is my 80 gig ipod

push@trudy:/dev/.static/dev$ sudo fdisk -l

Disk /dev/sda: 200.0 GB, 200049647616 bytes
255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 24321 cylinders
Units = cylinders of 16065 * 512 = 8225280 bytes
Disk identifier: 0x3f3ded36

Device Boot Start End Blocks Id System
/dev/sda1 * 1 23330 187398193+ 83 Linux
/dev/sda2 23331 24321 7960207+ 5 Extended
/dev/sda5 23331 24321 7960176 82 Linux swap / Solaris

push@trudy:/dev/.static/dev$ sudo apt-get install ipod-convenience ipodslave-dev libipoddevice-dev
[sudo] password for push:
Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree
Reading state information... Done
The following extra packages will be installed:
ipodslave libdbus-glib-1-dev libglib2.0-dev libgtop2-dev libid3-3.8.3c2a
Suggested packages:
Recommended packages:
The following NEW packages will be installed:
ipod-convenience ipodslave ipodslave-dev libdbus-glib-1-dev libglib2.0-dev
libgtop2-dev libid3-3.8.3c2a libipoddevice-dev sshfs
0 upgraded, 9 newly installed, 0 to remove and 44 not upgraded.
Need to get 1490kB of archives.
After this operation, 6287kB of additional disk space will be used.
Do you want to continue [Y/n]? y
Get:1 hardy/universe sshfs 1.9-1 [32.3kB]
Get:2 hardy/universe ipod-convenience 0.9-0ubuntu1 [9454B]
Get:3 hardy/main libid3-3.8.3c2a 3.8.3-7ubuntu2 [178kB]
Get:4 hardy/universe ipodslave 0.7.3-0ubuntu4 [121kB]
Get:5 hardy/universe ipodslave-dev 0.7.3-0ubuntu4 [15.3kB]
Get:6 hardy-updates/main libglib2.0-dev 2.16.6-0ubuntu1 [872kB]
Get:7 hardy/main libdbus-glib-1-dev 0.74-2 [91.4kB]
Get:8 hardy/main libgtop2-dev 2.22.0-0ubuntu1 [138kB]
Get:9 hardy/universe libipoddevice-dev 0.5.3-3 [32.2kB]
Fetched 1490kB in 6s (214kB/s)
Preconfiguring packages ...
Selecting previously deselected package sshfs.
(Reading database ... 176269 files and directories currently installed.)
Unpacking sshfs (from .../archives/sshfs_1.9-1_i386.deb) ...
Selecting previously deselected package ipod-convenience.
Unpacking ipod-convenience (from .../ipod-convenience_0.9-0ubuntu1_all.deb) ...
Selecting previously deselected package libid3-3.8.3c2a.
Unpacking libid3-3.8.3c2a (from .../libid3-3.8.3c2a_3.8.3-7ubuntu2_i386.deb) ...
Selecting previously deselected package ipodslave.
Unpacking ipodslave (from .../ipodslave_0.7.3-0ubuntu4_i386.deb) ...
Selecting previously deselected package ipodslave-dev.
Unpacking ipodslave-dev (from .../ipodslave-dev_0.7.3-0ubuntu4_i386.deb) ...
Selecting previously deselected package libglib2.0-dev.
Unpacking libglib2.0-dev (from .../libglib2.0-dev_2.16.6-0ubuntu1_i386.deb) ...
Selecting previously deselected package libdbus-glib-1-dev.
Unpacking libdbus-glib-1-dev (from .../libdbus-glib-1-dev_0.74-2_i386.deb) ...
Selecting previously deselected package libgtop2-dev.
Unpacking libgtop2-dev (from .../libgtop2-dev_2.22.0-0ubuntu1_i386.deb) ...
Selecting previously deselected package libipoddevice-dev.
Unpacking libipoddevice-dev (from .../libipoddevice-dev_0.5.3-3_i386.deb) ...
Setting up sshfs (1.9-1) ...
Setting up ipod-convenience (0.9-0ubuntu1) ...

Setting up libid3-3.8.3c2a (3.8.3-7ubuntu2) ...
Setting up ipodslave (0.7.3-0ubuntu4) ...

Setting up ipodslave-dev (0.7.3-0ubuntu4) ...
Setting up libglib2.0-dev (2.16.6-0ubuntu1) ...
Setting up libdbus-glib-1-dev (0.74-2) ...
Setting up libgtop2-dev (2.22.0-0ubuntu1) ...

Setting up libipoddevice-dev (0.5.3-3) ...
Processing triggers for libc6 ...
ldconfig deferred processing now taking place

push@trudy:/dev/.static/dev$ df
Filesystem 1K-blocks Used Available Use% Mounted on
/dev/sda1 185921652 72177108 104374636 41% /
varrun 1553284 276 1553008 1% /var/run
varlock 1553284 0 1553284 0% /var/lock
udev 1553284 52 1553232 1% /dev
devshm 1553284 0 1553284 0% /dev/shm
lrm 1553284 39792 1513492 3% /lib/modules/2.6.24-23-generic/volatile
/dev/sda2 185921652 72177108 104374636 41% /media/ipod
push@trudy:/dev/.static/dev$ sudo apt-get install ipod-convenience ipodslave-dev libipoddevice-dev


Anonymous's picture

I want to know how to rename my ipod.
can anyone help?

I plugged my ipod into my

Anonymous's picture

I plugged my ipod into my laptop and transferred my songs into rhythmbox and disconnected my ipod and it said there were no songs on it but I went into the settings and it said it was full of songs but in orange so they were in other instead of audio. can any help me out?

GTKPOD can't write on the ipod

Anonymous's picture

hello, could someone please help me with my ipod on ubuntu
i just can"t write anything on the ipod
and when i use sudo gtkpod
or gksudo gtkpod
i get the following error
** (gtkpod:15993): CRITICAL **: sha1_sha1_exists: assertion `sha1' failed

about 20 times!

I use Banshee with my ipod,

Anonymous's picture

I use Banshee with my ipod, it's pretty good, give it a try.

Very useful article

Jaime Iniesta's picture

Thanks for writing this guide. I have an ipod shuffle and want to use it on my Ubuntu Gutsy and your guide seems like a great help.

Excellent article!

Anonymous's picture

I use Fedora 7, but it ported over veeery easily!

i can finally update my iPod! WHOOOO!

except I can't get soundconverter to work with MP3s...

great article though!

google: "lame" or seek it in

Anonymous's picture

google: "lame"
or seek it in synaptic
would help a little bit

Ipod Nano won't mount on 6.06

Charles Petrie's picture

Very helpful article except that
" Just plug in your pod, and Ubuntu will do the rest." isn't true.

I went through the exercise of formating the Ipod on Windows XP.
Then rebooted Ubuntu 6.06 and installed gtkpod. But it can't
see the Ipod and it shows up neither on the desktop nor "places".
If I run gksudo gtkpod, I see that in trying to sync files, I get a "mountpoint" error. I have also run sudo /sbin/rmmod ehci_hcd to no avail. Can anyone please suggest any other magic commands that
might cause the Ipod to mount?

Thanks, Charles

Upgrade to 7.1 or 8.04

charlie's picture

Upgrade to 7.1 or 8.04

Nano iPods do mount on Feisty Fawn

Charles Petrie's picture

It seems Apple used "RAID" in their file systems in Nanos, which earlier versions of Ubuntu can't handle. Feisty works perfectly.

This is a great article - highly recommended.

HFS drives can be mounted on windows

stib's picture

There are proprietary and open source HFS drivers available for windows.
I use one at work, but I can't remember what it is. Means I can access the Linux HFS partition of a dual boot windows/ubuntu machine (and ntfs-3g works the other way, meaning I can meddle with my windows install from Linux).

There's a proprietary one called macdisk or something, and this is one that doesn't integrate into the file system, but lets you explore HFS disks from windows, which actually mentions that it works for iPods.

problem mouting the latest Ipod nano

AlexPires's picture

I just got ubuntu and installed gtkpod and the computer even identifies correctly the nano but when i try to mount it gives the following error message:

Unable to mount the selected volume. The volume is probably in a format that cannot be mounted.

error details:

mount: wrong fs type, bad option, bad superblock on /dev/sda,

missing codepage or other error

in some cases useful info is found in syslog - try

dmesg | tail or so

mount: wrong fs type, bad option, bad superblock on /dev/sda,

missing codepage or other error

in some cases useful info is found in syslog - try

dmesg | tail or so

error: could not execute pmount

And the ipod is windows formated so I just can't make it work.

Help needed

im having the same exact problem.

TheGr8Revealing's picture

I have the same problem. I can see ipod in the usb device manager and i know its formatted correctly. it even shows up in my computer but wont let me mount it.

someone help us please!!!

syncing ipod

paul e wog's picture

hello, quick problem.

When i run gedit /etc/mtab terminal shows mount at sda2, when i run gedit /etc/fstab this shows mount at sdc2. Ihave tried to edit fstab to sda2 but when i do that my ipod wont mount. I can get songs off ipod but no way to transfer to ipod, really frustrated. thanks for your help

Sony NWA 3000

psykyk's picture

Does anyone know if any of these will work with the Sony (I HATE the Connect software that comes with it for use in Windows)?

iPod stuck in read-only mode?

a_dumb_fake_name's picture

I can mount and eject my v5 (video) ipod, and gtkpod and iPodder seem to be installed and running successfully, EXCEPT I can't save any media to the iPod? and all my options to enable read-write capability on the iPod are disabled in Ubuntu (6.06 Dapper Drake/GNOME)? Do I really have to reformat my iPod to FAT32 to get things to work?

Try running them as root!

Ethan's picture

Try running them as root! (gksudo or kdesu NOT plain sudo)
It worked for me!


hypotheek's picture

That just worked perfectly! I was bothering with it a long, long time! Now I can just use it! :D

Upgrade to Rockbox for easy music

lefty.crupps's picture

I agree with the poster who said they used Rockbox on their iPod -- I do the same, and it is infinitely easier to transfer music On-to and Off-of my G5 iPod ("iPod Video"). I have a folder there named Music where I can dump my music files and it acts just like another hard drive (which, in reality, it is). Much easier, and the Rockbox firmware is a lot more fun than the regular iPod firmware.

Thanks for the article, I'll find it more useful as I continue to move my friends to Linux, as I am sure they won't *all* be interested in Rockbox (some already are, though!)

And, what's with the black-and-white screen shots? Just wondering...

I think those B&W shots are

Anonymous's picture

I think those B&W shots are scanned from the book.

Screen shots

Keith Daniels's picture

Actually they are not. They had to be reduced to fit on the website and that caused the "scanned" appearance. Click on them and you will see them in their full glory... :-)

Linux Journal

All the new OSs and windowing systems are oriented towards content consumption instead of content production.

--Steve Daniels 2013

ogg vorbis

Anonymous's picture

For those who would like to use ogg vorbis and flac, you should check out I've installed this free firmware on my Nano and it has been working well, albeit with a few quirks (mostly with the ID3 tag cache requiring a reboot to update).

Ogg Vorbis, and initial setup

Richard's picture

Amarok claims to be able to transcode as it send files to the device. I wonder if any of the others can, as my collection is in Vorbis.

There was something somewhere saying that GtkPod could initialise an IPOD. This would be essential as I have only Linux at home, so no Windows or Mac box to use to set the thing up.

initial setup

AK's picture

I run Linux only (Sidux/Debian) and didn't even know an iPod had to be initialized. But after fussing a bit with Amarok my new iPod G5 (video) is syncing fine with Gtkpod. I did delete the contents of the iTunes folder on the iPod once or twice, to reset the database. I haven't even checked what my iPod is formatted as, but it was brand new and runs great.

Or gnupod

Anonymous's picture

Don't forget gnupod.
It is easy, fast and convenient.
I use it all of the time.
Try it: it is at

or Perlpod

Jesser's picture

And if you want an automatic synchroniser of the latest Podcasts your following and your IPOD then look at Perlpod. It uses GNUPod to copy the files to your IPOD but it handles the checking of feeds and fetching new stuff automatically for you, ideal for crontab!!


iPod mounting in Ubuntu and FC5

Pete Countryman's picture

I've used my nano with both Fedora Core 5 and Ubuntu Dapper. In each distro, I've had to give the command "sudo /sbin/rmmod ehci_hcd" before it would mount the iPod. I understand that this disables USB 2.0, which is a shame, but is nevertheless a good trick to know if there's no other way to make it work. (It still beats running Windows.) More recently, it seems (to me anyway) that the libipod library on FC5 is broken, so after years of running Red Hat or Fedora (since RH7), I've gone over to Ubuntu, with no regrets so far.

P.S. I can't seem to prevent ehci_hcd from loading, even when I put it in the blacklist. Anyone else having that problem?

Wow ! After months and

Anonymous's picture

Wow !

After months and months of struggling with USB devices, your suggestion of "sudo /sbin/rmmod ehci_hcd" solved every issue in one single swoop !

How on earth did you come by that information ??

Do you know of any fix for this ?

I'm using Dapper 6.06 with the latest updates and kernel 2.6.15-27-k7

Re: Ubuntu mounting. I've

captainpotato's picture

Re: Ubuntu mounting. I've never had a problem, although Ubuntu 5.10 (Breezy) would always have an issue unmounting my nano. 6.06 (Dapper) fixed that, and the iPod now mounts and unmounts cleanly, plus connects at full USB 2.0 speed.


Ross's picture

Not true: if you install gstreamer0.10-plugins-bad-multiverse on Ubuntu Dapper then any GStreamer-based program can read the AAC files, including Rhythmbox.


Josiah's picture

Too bad Banshee didn't get a mention in here. For Gnome users like Ubuntu folks, Banshee is a great tool for managing the music library and has support for a number of portable media players including the iPod, various Creative brand devices (NJB) and USB mass storage devices.

That requires mono though..

Anonymous's picture

That requires mono though.. the others don't require that dependency and seem to work well.. haven't tried banshee though.

or rockbox

Anonymous's picture

Or you can just install rockbox and use it like a normal UMS device, ie just copy the files to it with your normal file manager. It also has the advantage of playing mp3, ogg, flac, and other formats without any trouble.

** (gtkpod:15993): CRITICAL

Anonymous's picture

** (gtkpod:15993): CRITICAL **: sha1_sha1_exists: assertion `sha1' failed

could someone tell me what this error all about
i can"t use sudo gtkpod or gtsudo gtkpod
i get this error!

Rockbox absolutely kills

Anonymous's picture

Rockbox absolutely kills your battery though... :(


Anonymous's picture

Rockbox USED to kill your battery. Now that it supports battery profiles, it is much better.