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Wiki > Main > RockboxFAQ > IpodFAQ

iPod FAQ

If your question is not answered here it most likely has been dealt with in the main General Rockbox FAQ

General Questions

Which iPods does Rockbox support?

Rockbox works on all models except the Shuffles, 3rd, 4th and 5th Gen Nanos, the 6th Gen (Classic) and the Touch. See IpodStatus for details. The supported models are also listed on the Rockbox home page.

How do I find out what iPod I own?

Apple have a helpful page for Identifying different iPod models. Another useful page is

When will Rockbox be released for other iPods?

WE DO NOT ESTIMATE RELEASE DATES. Seriously. Because Rockbox is an open-source project developed by volunteers, there is no set timetable for any release. The only answer that we can give you is that it will be ready when it is ready. People work on it when they have the time and inclination to do so.

What's the story with the two different builds for the iPod Video?

The 30GB iPod video has 32MB of RAM and the 60/80GB videos have 64MB. Thus, using the 60/80GB build on your 30GB iPod will cause problems. Using a 30GB build on a 60/80GB iPod will work fine, but not use all the RAM. So, for example, if you replace the hard drive in your 30GB model with a different size drive, you should continue using the Rockbox version designated for the 30GB model.

Currently Rockbox detects whether your iPod has 32MB of RAM or 64MB of RAM, because of this only one build is provided that will work on either the "30 GB" or "60/80 GB" version of the iPod video.

How does Rockbox compare to iPodLinux?

iPodLinux is a project to port Linux (actually uClinux, a derivative of the standard Linux kernel) and associated userspace utilities to the iPod. Rockbox is a project to create cross-platform music player firmware from scratch, with the goal of being the best music player possible. Rockbox is not based on Linux or any other operating system, it is written completely from scratch. While iPodLinux also includes music player functionality (and Rockbox contains plugin platform functionality), the goals of the two projects are different.

So which is better, Rockbox or iPodLinux?

Neither is better or worse than the other. It depends on what you want your iPod to do.

If you are somebody who gets all hot and bothered seeing a bash prompt or you want to run various Unix/Linux programs on your iPod, then iPodLinux may be for you.

If you want a flexible, functional, fast and stable music player that plays lots of different music formats with advanced audio options and also includes games and various plugins, Rockbox may be for you.

Will installing Rockbox damage my iPod?

Rockbox comes with no guarantees, but we have never heard of a case of a user permanently damaging their iPod by installing third-party software such as iPodLinux or Rockbox.

Can I try out Rockbox today?

Step-by-step installation instructions are available in the manual. You can also try the Rockbox Utility, which is still experimental but complete enough to offer easy installation.

Functionality Questions

How do I start the original Apple Firmware?

Shut the device down by holding PLAY/PAUSE. Then, press MENU or SELECT to boot the iPod. Immediately after doing this, turn on the HOLD switch.

If you have an older version of the bootloader, the following directions will work:

First, shut down the device. Then, press MENU or SELECT to wake up your iPod. If you keep your finger held on MENU whilst your iPod is booting, then the Rockbox bootloader will start the Apple firmware. Do not release the MENU button until you see the "Loading original firmware..." message on the screen.

How do I get back to Rockbox from the original Firmware?

Reset the iPod (see below).

How do I reset the iPod?

This page sums up the reset procedure for all iPods: The reset procedure is hard-wired to the iPod, thus it will work always. You might need to hold down the described buttons for quite a while (up to 30 seconds or similar). The time needed varies, so don't panic if it takes a bit longer than the first time you did.

Can I have the regular iPod firmware start by default instead of Rockbox?

The iPodLinux project has developed a bootloader which is driven by a configuration file and presents the different firmware (Apple firmware, Rockbox and iPodLinux) in a menu that you can choose from along with other features. Details can be found here, but keep in mind that this is not supported by Rockbox so make sure to forward your questions to them. This may not be necessary to achieve your goal though as once you boot into the Apple firmware it will remain there until you do a hard reset. Holding Play/Pause in Apple's firmware puts the unit to sleep, it does not shut it down. So, if you mainly use the Apple firmware then just don't do a hard reset and you'll continue to be in that mode.

Does USB work?

Yes, as of 2009-02-26 (r20105), Rockbox supports USB on most iPods (no support for 1g, 2g or 3g iPods).

How do I put my songs on the iPod for Rockbox?

Any way you like! Rockbox will boot into a file tree browser. This means you can put the songs anywhere, under any folder structure you like. Though many people prefer one like this:
D:\Music\Artist\Album\Track - Song.mp3

But, Rockbox is happy with however you feel like laying out your music organization.

Will Rockbox still require iTunes to transfer music?

No. Out of the box, the iPod acts as a standard UMS device - meaning that without any special drivers you can plug your iPod into your PC's USB port and it appears as a hard drive. When iTunes transfers a music file to an iPod, it also adds an entry in the itunesdb database stored on the iPod. Apple's firmware in the iPod only looks for music in this database - which is why you can not normally copy music to an iPod without iTunes (or an equivalent third-party application).

Will Rockbox be able to play songs I've bought from the iTunes Music Store?

There are two types of music files available in the iTunes store: 128kbps MP3 and 256 kbps AAC. The first variety are encrypted with digital rights management (DRM) and are not compatible with Rockbox on principle. The second variety, from "iTunes Plus", will play fine with Rockbox as they are simply unencumered sound files in Apple's AAC format.

Can I use my iTunes Database?

At the moment, simply: No. Rockbox is first and foremost a filetree browser based MP3 player. It can have its own database, but does not use iTunes'.

How do I access music that I have transferred to my iPod using iTunes?

iTunes stores your music in the iPod_Control/Music folder on your iPod. This folder has the "hidden" attribute set, so you need to enable the "View all files" option in Rockbox to show this folder in the file browser.

However, iTunes obfuscates the filenames of your music by giving them names such as DLER.m4a in folders with names like F03. The folders do not match albums - the tracks are placed randomly in the different directory. The album/artist/title information is stored in a database file called itunesdb on your iPod. Rockbox does not read the information from this file.

The Rockbox equivalent to the iTunes database is simply called Database. This will build a unified database containing both the music you have transfered using iTunes and music you have just copied to your iPod's hard disk, and allow you to browse it by Artist, Album, Genre etc. For more information, see section 4.2 in the Rockbox manual.

Yet another possibility is to convert the iTunesDB to a the Rockbox database format, see Convert iTunesDB to Rockbox database for more information.

Do inline remote controls/external playback controls/any accessory communicating via the dock or remote port work?

Rockbox currently has serial protocol support for various iPod accessories. However, because of the sheer amount of accessories available, we have not been able to test each and every single one ourselves. Check the IpodAccessories compatibility chart for a list of devices users have attempted to test, and you can add your own information to that page when you find an accessory that does or doesn't work.

Will iTunes delete RockBox when you sync the iPod with iTunes and iTunes asks whether it can "Erase and sync" the iPod?

When you connect your iPod to a (new) computer, you might get asked by iTunes whether you want to format the iPod and have it sync with the computer you attached to ("...The ipod is synced with another iTunes library. An iPod can be synced with only one iTunes library at a time", followed by "Erase and sync replaces the contents of this iPod with contents of this iTunes library").

You might be wondering: will choosing "Erase and Sync" erase everything on my iPod, so RockBox as well? But no: you can safely have iTunes wipe whatever it wants to wipe: iTunes will only remove stuff that got synced by iTunes. Not any normal files stored on it as a disk (disk-modus). Rockbox will still be on there after iTunes has finished!

Problems/Troubleshooting Questions

My iPod doesn't show up as a USB drive in Windows Explorer, why not?

Because iTunes is hijacking it. To free your device from Apple's death-like grip you need to switch the iPod to "Manually Manage" and enable disk use, like thus:

  1. Open iTunes.
  2. Connect your iPod to your computer and wait for it to appear in iTunes.
  3. Select your iPod in the Source pane under the Devices section to display your iPod preferences in the main library window.
  4. Click the Summary tab in the main iTunes window.
  5. Click the Manually manage music button. Changing from automatic updating to manual puts a check mark by Enable disk use. A message says: "Disabling automatic update requires manually unmounting the iPod before each disconnect."
  6. Click OK in the message window.
  7. Click Apply in the iPod preferences section of the iTunes window.
And now don't forget that you have to manually unmount the device before disconnecting it or you risk corrupting your file system and getting a headache.

How do I restore my broken iPod?

The iPods have a built-in "emergency disk mode" which is unaffected by the installation of Rockbox. If the worst happens, and your iPod crashes or becomes unusable, then you can simply reboot your iPod (hold down the MENU and SELECT keys together for about 5 seconds) and then after the iPod reboots, immediately enter the emergency disk mode (hold SELECT and PLAY together on newer models, see Apple's webpage on Disk Mode for further info.) You can then connect your iPod to your PC as normal and restore it to the original factory state using the Apple iPod Restorer.

If you have trouble with the Apple iPod Restorer, you may want to try formatting your iPod first, and you may also have better success with a different version of the Restorer. Apple has however now changed how iPod restores are handled. They have integrated that functionality with iTunes. If that restorer does not work, do a google search for "ipod updater 2006-01-10" this should turn up some results so that you can get an old version of the restorer.

If you use Linux, you can restore an iPod without iTunes by following these directions.

If you have a 60gb iPod or larger, and you are having trouble with the Apple Ipod Restorer, try following the instructions on this site to properly format your 60gb hard drive. Windows does not like formatting hard drives larger than 32gb with fat32, but the iPod OS requires this.

I'm using iPodLinux Loader and have a problem, how do I fix it?

The iPodLinux bootloader is not created by the Rockbox project and we do not support it. If you have problems go to iPodLinux for help or install the Rockbox bootloader.

My 1st or 2nd generation iPod doesn't shut down, it only reboots. What's up with that?

The 1st and 2nd gen iPods don't have proper shutdown support in Rockbox. When you go to shut down your iPod, click the hold switch on. The Apple firmware will boot at this point, and from here you can click the hold switch off and hold "PLAY" to put the iPod to sleep.

CategoryFAQ: Frequently asked questions about the effort to port Rockbox to the iPods

r94 - 02 Apr 2021 - 20:46:06 - UnknownUser

Parents: RockboxFAQ
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