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Wiki > Main > IpodBoot (r15)

How to install the Rockbox bootloader on your iPod


These are work in progress instructions aimed at developers wishing to help with IpodPort. End-user installation instructions are available from IpodInstallation

Step 1 - Compile the bootloader

  • Follow the CrossCompiler instructions and install the recommended arm-elf versions of gcc and binutils.
  • Check out the latest Rockbox CVS source tree - see UsingSVN
  • Create a build directory in the same directory as tools, firmware, bootloader etc, run ../tools/configure and select your iPod target and "B" for bootloader.
  • Type make - if all goes well a bootloader binary will be created as bootloader/bootloader.bin in your build directory

  • Alternatively, you can download a pre-compiled bootloader.bin for your iPod from the IpodInstallation page.

Step 2 - Preparation for installation

For background information, read the How to install iPodLinux on 4G ipod instructions from IpodLinux.

Windows users need the ipodpatcher application available from the IpodInstallation page. Linux users can just use the dd command. A version of ipodpatcher for Mac OS X is in development.

  • Plug your iPod into your computer
  • Windows users (you probably need administrator privileges to do this):
    • Run ipodpatcher.exe N to check that your ipod can be detected - where N is the disk number assigned to the drive by Windows. Disk numbers are assigned to drives sequentially starting with 0 (normally C:). Most people will find their ipod at 1 or 2.
    • Enter ipodpatcher.exe -r N bootpartition.bin to read the boot partition from your ipod and save it in a file called bootpartition.bin
  • Linux users (as the root user):
    • Run fdisk -l /dev/sda (replacing sda with the device assigned to your iPod) to view the partition table and confirm that this is indeed your iPod.
    • Enter
      dd if=/dev/sda of=mbr.bin count=1
      to back up your partition table
    • Enter
      dd if=/dev/sda1 of=bootpartition.bin
      to extract the boot partition to your hard disk. This is typically around 40MB-80MB but less than 10MB will be used.
  • Extract the Apple firmware from the bootpartition.bin using the ipod_fw utility (found in the Rockbox tools directory): ../tools/ipod_fw -o apple_os.bin -e 0 bootpartition.bin
  • iPod Video users also need to extract the Broadcom (video processor) firmware using the command: ../tools/ipod_fw -o apple_sw_5g_rcsc.bin -e 1 bootpartition.bin

Step 3 - Installation

  • Combine the Rockbox bootloader and the Apple firmware into a new boot partition image: ../tools/ipod_fw -g nano -o rockboot.bin -i apple_os.bin bootloader.bin Replace -g nano with the model of your ipod - type ../tools/ipod_fw without any arguments for usage instructions.
  • Windows Users:
    • Write the new bootpartition image back to the iPod: ipodpatcher -w N rockboot.bin
  • Linux Users:
    • Write the new boot partition image back to the iPod: dd if=rockboot.bin of=/dev/sda1
  • NOTE: iPod Video users should use the option "-g 5g" and you will need a copy of the apple_sw_5g_rcsc.bin file that you extracted in step 1 in the current directory when running ipod_fw

When you disconnect the USB cable, your iPod should reboot. At this stage, it will fail to find a copy of Rockbox itself, and should default into loading the Apple firmware. Once you install Rockbox, you can boot to the Apple firmware by holding down MENU whilst your ipod is booting (note that you need to press and hold this key very early in the boot cycle - just before the apple logo appears).

To install new versions of the bootloader, start at Step 3.

Recovering from a crash

When your development version of the bootloader crashes:

  • Reboot your iPod by holding the MENU (top) and SELECT (middle) buttons for around 5 seconds.
  • Whilst the iPod is rebooting, hold SELECT and PLAY together to enter disk mode.

You can then connect the iPod to your PC and start again.
r15 - 11 Jan 2007 - 23:03:17 - DanielStenberg

Copyright by the contributing authors.