OGG, FLAC, and more on your iPod!

Do you dislike proprietary formats? Are you an Open Source aficionado? What if I told you it was quite possible to liberate your iPod from such commercial vices? Let's go...

Please, please, please backup all your iPod data before reading any more. If you have enough non-iPod hard drive space (external USB?), you can just dd the device, or if you are even cooler, utilize something like Clonezilla. Also, my instructions will make use of a pre-compiled and non-standard build of Rockbox, the replacement iPod firmware. I highly recommend you just follow the automated (perhaps buggy) or manual Rockbox installation procedures instead, as this is merely for demonstration purposes. The custom build is unsupported by the Rockbox team, but does pre-package many extra modules by default that are not otherwise included. Please check the Rockbox documentation and visit #rockbox on Freenode for any questions. Rockbox is BETA software, but I have been using it without any issues.

The following statement was contributed by a Rockbox developer...
"While using this build might be a good way to try it out, it may be gone soon, and will most likely be quite outdated. If you decide you like it and want to try the official version, or if you need to ask for help, reinstall with the official instructions in the manual. Because RBUtil is new, you may wish to try the manual procedure."

Backing up your iPod contents...
$ dd if=/dev/sda of=/media/usbdrive/ipod.img

Freeing your iPod...
$ wget http://www.linuxjournal.com/files/linuxjournal.com/ufiles/install-rockbo...
$ mv install-rockbox-ipod.txt install-rockbox-ipod.sh
$ sudo sh install-rockbox-ipod.sh

On first boot, you will also notice that ipodlinux is installed. We used their nice simple installer/bootloader. Just boot into Rockbox using the option during boot time. Now, once fully loaded, you may discover that the default theme is a little on the ugly side, and I have been a long time Ubuntu user, so I chose that theme. Go ahead and make some personal setting changes to reflect your own unique style. Then just sit back and enjoy a pleasant OGG, FLAC, or Speex audio file at your leisure. I used to own a Toyota Prius, and that had a nice 1/8th inch jack for audio input. Maybe you received a new Prius and iPod during the holidays, but didn't know all this was possible?!?!? Well, now you do :-)

You won't be able to play any DRM multimedia under Rockbox, so if you already purchased music through iTunes or another such service, you may be out of luck with those files. You might be able to salvage them, but it may also be a huge time sink. Try to stay away from DRM music if you can, so that you have freedom.

Now, if you have old MP3 files, of course they will still work on your iPod. Even the newer commercial codecs like MP4/AAC are supported by Rockbox. I am also told that MPEG1/MPEG2 videos are also supported, which is very impressive. Just create a new folder and drop your media there as if it were a standard USB device. Be sure to carefully unmount and eject the iPod so that the data is synced correctly. And there you have it. Your iPod is just a little bit more free this holiday season!

Oh, and one last thing. I forgot to mention that you can also play Doom :-)

install-rockbox-ipod.txt3.2 KB


Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Problems with this guide

krazykit's picture

The included script will give you an unsupported unofficial build of Rockbox with an unsupported bootloader. This install cannot be supported by the Rockbox forums, IRC, or mailing lists.

In light of these concerns, I strongly recommend you ignore the script and read the Installation section of the Rockbox manual. The Rockbox Utility (aka RBUtil) is the preferred method of installation. Should that not work (as it is a work in progress) you can perform a manual install using unzip and ipodpatcher (the details of which are covered in the manual). Installing this way (and updating from the latest official builds) will give you an install able to be supported and with the latest supported features.