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Connecting an iPod to a Linux Laptop
28 December 2005 @ 23:52 GMT
by Paul

I recently have had to get an iPod working with my Linux laptop. It was surprisingly easy thanks to gtkpod, which is a GUI software for the iPod. However, there were a couple of issues I had to sort out.

Because I had the USB modules already compiled for my current kernel, the laptop recognised the iPod as a SCSI hard disk as soon as it was plugged into the USB ports. So far, so good. Two problems then arose. Firstly, the iPod was flashing "Do Not Disconnect" and, secondly, there was no way of accessing the iPod. This page helped.

I used fdisk to find out what the 'partition table' on the iPod was.

fdisk /dev/sda

The command 'p' prints out the table. It showed that the first partition was empty and the second partition, /dev/sda2, was formatted as FAT32. That meant that this was a Windows iPod. Apparently, there are also 'Mac' iPods that have a partition formatted as HFS+ rather than FAT32. This would require the hfsplus module compiled into the kernel. As it happens, I didn't need to worry about this.

I then added a line like this, to my /etc/fstab:

/dev/sda2 /media/ipod   vfat defaults,uid=1000,gid=1000,noauto 0 0

The reason for choosing /media/ipod as the mount point was simply that gtkpod was expecting it. Doing

mount /media/ipod
on the command line now mounts the iPod. After this, I was able to get gtkpod to create the correct directories on the iPod. It was also possible to add files to the iPod and sync it with the laptop.

Before disconnecting the iPod (and getting the "Do Not Disconnect" message to stop flashing) it is necessary to do:

eject /dev/sda

This is important. Simply doing, 'umount /dev/sda' will not stop the "Do Not Disconnect" message from flashing.

The iPod now works well. If there is one thing that is really annoying, however, is that the iPod will not play Ogg Vorbis files, a music format that is far superior, to my ear, than mp3. Apple so far, have made no indication that they will include an Ogg Vorbis codec in the firmware. This doesn't make me a fan of Apple in anyway whatsoever and will prevent me from ever actually buying an iPod.

The only way to fix this fundamental flaw in the iPod is to wipe the operating system on it and install Linux. Of course, this voids the warranty and, were I to do it, I would have to endure the wrath of my wife. Consequently, this cripplied 'music' player will have to remain crippled.

Tags: ipod

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