New iPod locked more tightly to iTunes, will not work with Linux

Apple has apparently made some changes to the iPod that make it increasingly difficult to use with anything other than iTunes. Since iTunes does not run on Linux, this affects Linux users more than anyone.

I wrote a piece a while back on Linux multimedia, and was impressed at how well my old iPod Photo works with Amarok on Linux. I have this iPod formatted for the Mac, since iTunes seems to work better on OS X. The only change I needed was to turn off journalling on the HFS+ file system. So what’s happened now?

According to this post, Apple has encrypted the iPod’s database. If you write to the database other than with iTunes, the iPod firmware will report that it is empty.

How about replacing the firmware completely, say with Linux? Bad news there as well – Apple has encrypted the firmware too. See ipodlinux.org for more details. In consequence, you can only hack the firmware on older models.

The change to the song database is more significant. Only a tiny geek minority would be willing to replace their firmware, but there are more people who like the the iPod but not iTunes. This may be damaging for third parties like J River, which offers iPod-compatible media center software.

See also Mike Elgan’s article on Is Apple the New Microsoft; and also note how the piece has over 1000 “Do not Recommend this story” votes from enraged Apple enthusiasts.

There is also a discussion on slashdot.

Update: more commentary from Miguel de Icaza (of GNOME, Mono fame) and Cory Doctorow – the usual suspects, I guess. “This has nothing to do with preventing piracy — this is about preventing competition with the iTunes Store,” says Doctorow.

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5 thoughts on “New iPod locked more tightly to iTunes, will not work with Linux”

  1. ‘note how the piece has over 1000 “Do not Recommend this story” votes from enraged Apple enthusiasts’

    Choose Apple. Choose a gadget. Choose a statement. Choose proprietary. Choose to look like a cock who’s wearing white headphones. Choose something with shit batteries. Choose poor security protection. Choose not to choose, you utterly ignorant over-paid twat. Choose to work really hard to get a job in journalism at the BBC and then undermine yourself by writing a great big advert for a new product.

    If they were all turkeys, they’d probably celebrate Christmas.

  2. Apple had me sold on an i-pod for christmas but I found I-tunes a nightmare of a program to understand and get to work. I am computer savey so not me at fault. Even now two days down the line I have my music on it but as software i-tunes gets a big thumbs down.

  3. I was fortunate to have a friend buy an i-pod and try to fiddle faddle with that itunes crap on my computer for a few hours. After watching her deal with that nightmare, I have steered clear of Apple and their i-tunes saga. :/

  4. So much for me using my ipod with my linux box. I was hoping there was a solution. Seems like a bad idea to exclude a fairly sizable market from buying your product.

    Thanks for the info anyway.

  5. Apple is a pain with their ITunes, I know they have to protect their investment but they cant spite themselves by cutting out half their audience either.

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