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Linux's iPod Generation Gap 533

An anonymous submittor says "Today's young generation can use Linux on the desktop provided it works with their iPod. Linux on the desktop still hasn't reached that stage and has to be compatible with multimedia applications like iTunes and iPod if it has to beat Microsoft's Windows dominance on the desktop. Open source gurus at LinuxWorld discuss solutions to make Linux more consumer-friendly."
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Linux's iPod Generation Gap

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  • by generic-man ( 33649 ) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @05:48PM (#15930436) Homepage Journal
    Really. It's not hard.

    Just emerge gnupod and make sure you compile it with the --with-ffxk-so-opti=3 directive in autoconf. That'll hose you every time. Also I recommend that you use gnutunes out of the gnxms repository; the vanilla Gentoo repos's version is hosed.

    Also, my iPod only works if I mount it as /dev/sdc6. Don't know why that is, but the dev said he'd put it on his TODO list.

    Aside from that it's pretty easy!
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by lkypnk ( 978898 )
      Well, with Kubuntu (Ubuntu w/ KDE) it was simple for me. Plug my iPod in and amaroK automatically recognized it. I was actually surprised, but it works! It's still not flawless though. If you remove the device (physically) without "eject"ing it (how logical is that?) You'll lose your itunesdb and have to recreate that, which I'm sure would really throw off a newbie...

      Once we work out these small flaws, it should all be smooth sailing, at least for music... Video is a whole other matter.

    • Funny but wrong (Score:5, Informative)

      by alandd ( 243817 ) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @07:00PM (#15930985)
      On my OpenSUSE 10.1:

      - Open Amarok
      - Attach iPod Nano
      - Amarok pops up a box that asks if I want to use it to manage a new iPod
      - Click affirmative
      - Transfer, delete, manage music and podcasts at will

      I have not read the article so I don't understand the issue. Are the using a two-year-old version of some odd distro?
      • by julesh ( 229690 )
        I have a friend who uses Linux on the desktop for only one application: managing his iPod. He reckons it's easier to work with than iTunes, which just tries to be too clever all the time. He just wants to drag & drop the songs he wants onto the device, unplug it, and go.
  • by thelost ( 808451 ) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @05:50PM (#15930455) Journal
    Does anyone ever get the feeling that the search for the mecca of desktop linux is being led by an attack-macaque that watches tirelessly over an infinitely large room with an infinite number of monkeys in it, all smooshing keyboards to design that distro that just might work.

    and yet they can't. what is going on with that? I think by now, we've kinda grasped the things that make a good desktop. If no-one can bring that simple magic to linux now, they never will.
  • by datalife ( 17290 ) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @05:53PM (#15930480)
    There is no gap between ITunes and Amarok.
    • I Work n Amarok (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Makarakalax ( 658810 )
      I've been an Amarok developer for 3 years, and I'd like to comment.

      Amarok beats iTunes in quite a few ways; eg. wikipedia artist-lookup, lyrics lookup, suggesting music from you collection for you to play next, last.fm integration, cover downloads, playback formats supported, etc. Certainly we have every feature iTunes has except a music store. And we have patches to allow purchases from Magnatune sitting on the mailing list.

      We aren't as simple as iTunes. Out interface shines in some areas, like our drag an
  • by cagle_.25 ( 715952 ) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @05:55PM (#15930508) Journal
    ...with the article summary, which implies that Linux is going to have to "be compatible" with technology X in order to appeal to the masses. In point of fact, if Linux adopts that strategy it will *never* appeal to the masses, because it will always be catching up.

    The only way to have significant appeal is to offer something that the masses want, that Windows can't. Hint: rock-solid security is not something the masses *want*. Yet.
    • Actually, Linux adapts and exceeds pretty quickly. It's the result of having a developer bin about ten times that of, say, Microsoft, working independantly and in teams.

      Presently, Linux is:
      Catching up with windows binary support
      Working on MacOSX binary support
      Keeping well ahead of video format support
      Whooping ass at new-and-innovative native applications
      Whooping ass at reinventing old-and-ubiquitous applications ...
      etc, ad inf.

      To those who pooh-pooh the state of linux, may I suggest: You don't keep up well
    • by LocoMan ( 744414 )
      I have to agree there. The way I see it, Linux IS ready to be used by the masses (in my limited experience with ubuntu, at least), provided someone configures it and install all they need for them first, that is.

      However, the ways I can see linux making way into the home desktop are by having major vendors offer linux computers like the windows ones they offer (for example, a line of linux computers that come with everything preinstalled and heavily marketed), or linux having some killer app everyone wants (
      • Interestingly, being open source may prevent "killer app-erature." After all, if Debian released a killer app, would not MS essentially co-opt it the next day?
      • by techno-vampire ( 666512 ) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @06:40PM (#15930866) Homepage
        Until then, I guess we'll keep seeing "XXXX app is what linux needs to be on the desktop" articles...

        Even more to the point, as long as there's even one app running on MS or Mac that isn't on Linux, the naysayers and fanbois will claim that Linux isn't ready for the desktop because of that one app. No matter how good Linux is, how much better its stability and security, how many apps there are for it, as long as the fanbois can point to one thing that isn't duplicated to their satisfaction, they'll continue to claim it's not ready yet.

        Linux is ready for the desktop, right now. It's ready for Aunt Minnie because Aunt Minnie isn't going to be installing her own software on Linux anymore than she is on Windows. What it isn't ready for is the MS/Mac zealots, but then, it never will be because they have no desire to change, nor to admit there even is a viable alternative to their favorite OS.

        • Linux is ready for the desktop, right now. [...] What it isn't ready for is the MS/Mac zealots, but then, it never will be because they have no desire to change, nor to admit there even is a viable alternative to their favorite OS.

          I would say that Linux was ready for the desktop ten years ago, and has become LESS useable since then. I am currently running SuSE 10.1, and while it was slightly easier to install than Slack 2, it's a complete mess as far as user interface goes. The old Unix desktop paradi

    • by kfg ( 145172 ) * on Thursday August 17, 2006 @06:14PM (#15930668)
      . . .[Linux] will always be catching up.

      Ironically, this is because Windows and OSX are plots to take over the world; whereas Linux is just an operating system.

  • iPod != iTunes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by peter_gzowski ( 465076 ) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @05:57PM (#15930529) Homepage
    Well, what do you want? Do you want to be able to throw your music on your iPod? You can do through a number of applications, although I find Amarok's new versions (>= 1.4.1) are the most seamless way to do that. I use my 4th generation 40GB iPod exclusively through Linux, and have had minor issues (had trouble getting rid of that "Do Not Disconnect" message in Mandriva/PCLinuxOS, that's about it), but no show-stoppers. As far as iTunes, I haven't tried to pull down music from the music store. I'm assuming it's not possible right now.

    I find the summary deceiving. To pose the question, "does Linux work with my iPod?" and then answer "no, it hasn't reached that stage yet" is not giving a true picture. If someone asked me that question, I would say "yes, mostly" and then get them to clarify what they wanted to do.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      As far as iTunes, I haven't tried to pull down music from the music store. I'm assuming it's not possible right now.
      It is possible. There is SharpMusique [nanocrew.net] (by Jon Johansen). That is, unless Apple has done something recently to prevent it from working.
  • Ipod? That's easy! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by common middle name ( 657525 ) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @05:59PM (#15930543)
    Pretty much every media player for Linux supports the ipod. Amarok, Rhythmbox, Banshee, etc, etc. Not to mention gtkpod! AFAIK every mainstream distro compiles the proper support into the kernel for usb or firewire support as well as VFAT/HFS file system support. The ipod should be pretty much plug and play on any modern Linux distro.

    At the very least the title of the article is misleading BS.
    • by ZakuSage ( 874456 ) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @06:19PM (#15930723)
      In fact I find it's easier to use an iPod with Linux then with Windows. I was able to access my brother's shuffle with ease as a mass storage device, and then put songs on it by copying through Natuilus. I did all this with a stock Ubuntu Breezy installation a few months ago. With Windows you had to access it through iTunes, and couldn't do something so simple as using a file manager.
      • Actually, you can. (Score:5, Informative)

        by porkchop_d_clown ( 39923 ) <mwheinz AT me DOT com> on Thursday August 17, 2006 @06:57PM (#15930963) Homepage
        couldn't do something so simple as using a file manager.

        Believe it or not, iTunes hides the Shuffle from Windows. If you plug a shuffle into a machine that doesn't have iTunes installed, it will appear as a drive.

        At least, mine did when I first got it. Maybe newer ones are different?
  • by bunions ( 970377 ) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @06:04PM (#15930580)
    Water also wet. Further bulletins at as warranted.
    • Meanwhile, TFA's author seems... mislead to say the least.

      Where's that fud tag, anyway? It's definately deserved here.
  • DRM (Score:4, Insightful)

    by linguae ( 763922 ) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @06:10PM (#15930638)

    Remember that Apple's iTunes music is encoded with its DRM. So you cannot legally play iTunes-encoded music on the iPod.

    Linux will remain behind of commercial OSes in the realm of media, not because it is Linux, but becuase of DRM.

    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by vertinox ( 846076 )
      Linux will remain behind of commercial OSes in the realm of media, not because it is Linux, but becuase of DRM.

      If you think that the majority of space on all the iPods in the world is filled up with music from iTunes... Well you've got another thing comming.

      Besides, people don't buy iPods because they support fairplay DRM. They buy them because they play music on a fashionable easy to use device. They could care less as long as DRM is invisible and non-intrusive.

      As soon as that DRM starts screwing them over
    • Remember that Apple's iTunes music is encoded with its DRM. So you cannot legally play iTunes-encoded music on the iPod.

      This is an absolutely untrue statement.

      Hopefully it's just being spoken out of ignorance and not malice, but at any rate, it's misleading.

      iTunes encodes music that you rip from a CD to bog standard MP3 files, WAV files, AIFF files, or AAC files. With the exception of AAC files, which despite being an open format may not have a Linux codec, all of them work equally well on all platforms, us
    • Remember that Apple's iTunes music is encoded with its DRM. So you cannot legally play iTunes-encoded music on the iPod. Linux will remain behind of commercial OSes in the realm of media, not because it is Linux, but becuase of DRM.

      Just one of the reasons why Linux is ahead of commercial OSes. Everything on my hard-drive will live forever through countless generations of computers with no fear of some DRM scheme or closed architecture rendering the data useless.
  • Bread and games (Score:2, Insightful)

    by steincastle ( 995168 )
    Bring me games to Linux and Vista will go away. Unless you do that I am buying Vista and MSFT.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by killjoe ( 766577 )
      Why will you buy vista, don't your games work on XP?
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        That's exactly what MS is trying to achieve - that new games would require Vista. IIRC the forthcoming Halo 2 port will only work on Vista, but I bet there are similarly restricted games in the pipeline that someone would actually want to play.
  • Not just ipods (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Colin Smith ( 2679 ) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @06:38PM (#15930848)
    BTW, don't they just plug in and appear as a drive? Anyway...

    It's all the peripherals. Your ipod, palm, nokia, cameras etc syncing with the calendar, todo, email, files etc. The problem isn't actually with Linux, it's with closed proprietary protocols. Saying the problem is with Linux is naive, the problem is with standardisation and with peripheral manufacturers writing software which works on several platforms. Its really an economic problem rather than a technical one.

    • Yeah, it's the peripherals. It was the constant fussing with Linux patches just to watch DVDs, or to do USB that drove me to give OSX a try when it first appeared, back in the day.

      But virtualization can change that. The ability to run Linux or Mac OS X or Windows as a virtual machine on top of Linux, or OS X, or Windows is a huge win. It means that you can have your cake and eat it, too - you can use what ever OS you need to run the app or connect to the peripheral, then switch back to the OS you'd rather u
  • I happen to like gtkpod – http://www.gtkpod.org/ [gtkpod.org] – and amaroK... I'm an iPod nano addict myself, so I've made sure it's included in Ultima Linux if anyone cares (I've also linked amaroK to libgpod, so it's got everything except a music store now... works just fine for me :-)
  • by dindi ( 78034 ) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @06:54PM (#15930941)
    The basic idea of itunes is just flawed (from my perpective at least)..

    Most players, even my stupid Panasonic car radio can read-in an MP3 list on the fly, and then play it, so why not that super-intelligent-wonderful device?

    As on any normal MP3 player I have seen, you could just drop the files onto the device, and then it would create a playlist from it....

    That way you could use any system, not just that retarded Itunes. That way you could use m3u files as well.

    But wait: this way you would not need a windows or a mac running that bloated crap, that is nothing but a "buy more from itunes" adware pile.

    And here is what really bothers me: you cannot use iTunes store from where i live, and now they even stopped selling prepaid cards at the apple stores. Still I have to download a new version of their crap almost every 3 weeks, with bigger and bigger file sizes, while i could just drop files on an USB drive's filesystem, and then press play...

    I think I am one of the very few people who is sick of his ipod in every single sense, except it's physical strength (i use it at the gym every day and get it wet, and hit it with weights and run with it... then usually steam it for a few hours in my gym-bag's front with my wet heartrate monitor)
    Other than that: sound:ok i guess, earphones:garbage, interface awkward, functions:bloat, control:complicated (always those menus with the idiotic scrolling)......

    Oh if that little function existed, you could use it with linux just fine, as far as usb drives are enabled ... you just connect it and an scsi device(on most systems) show up, you just have to mount it ....

    mounting something too complicated? I guess do not use linux, that is my advice .....

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by joe 155 ( 937621 )
      you pretty much summed up my feelings on this topic, thanks. I'd mod you up but alas, no mod points. It is the iPod's fault.

      My mp3 player actually works better on Linux than on windows - maybe people should just buy different ones... and I also feel a little like we should just stop worrying about the fact that not a lot of people use linux. I say good. Let windows keep getting all the viruses and the crap DRM and adware (I know linux is technically stronger as well as implemented better but I do thin
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Blakey Rat ( 99501 )
      Wow, if you think the iPod's interface is awkward... you're in for a very unpleasant surprise when you start trying out other brands. The reason iPods use a DB to track music is that they can load the entire DB in RAM at once and don't have those horrible gaps most MP3 players do while reading and caching new ID3 tags after you add files.
  • Step 1. Open Add/Remove Plugins
    Step 2. Select Banshee and click ok
    Step 3. Start Banshee
    Step 4. Plug in Ipod
  • Why appeal? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MagicAlex84 ( 991508 ) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @06:56PM (#15930952)
    Why does Linux have to appeal to anyone but the people who use it? I thought that was the whole point. If you don't feel like paying for software then you've either got to write it yourself or wait for someone to give it to you (or steal it, but that's another topic). And this is exactly what the Linux community has done; as many people here have pointed out you can use an iPod in Linux (to say nothing of using Linux on an iPod). So the majority of people find using Linux to be too difficult? So what? They can just pay for a simpler OS that does work for them. It's like paying someone to clean your house, wash your car, make you food, or any number of services, and if you're someone who's not willing to pay for those services then you either have to do them yourself, or find someone who will do it voluntarily (or to enslave).
  • by Brunellus ( 875635 ) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @07:27PM (#15931147) Homepage

    I have concluded that "Linux isn't ready for the desktop" rants like TFA and "This is the Year of Linux on the Desktop" raves are both equally irrelevant, because they both miss the point.

    If an attractive, usable desktop environment with excellent multimedia capabilities were what it took to make a desktop computing platform dominant, I wouldn't be typing this comment from my Windows box at work. We'd all be using Amigas. The /. Macolytes will argue that we all would have been (and still should be) using Apple Macintoshes of one description or other. Let's review, though: the Amiga is on the dustbin of history. The Mac soldiers along, but for all its "Volkskomputer" propaganda, only a relatively small proportion of relatively affluent Macolytes ever use them.

    What dominated the desktop? What made the Personal Computer a commodity item? Bring yourself to say it: IBM-Compatibles running MS-DOS. They were ugly and primitive. It were single-user/single-task systems. Keeping one running initiated a user or administrator into the secret world of cryptic command lines and oracular error messages (ABORT, RETRY, FAIL?). It certainly wasn't an attractive platform by any standard now applied....and yet it completely trounced all its competitors. Why?

    Because it was extremely attractive to the sort of person we don't like here on /.--procurement types. It was "good enough," they were "smart enough," and, goshdarnit, the IBM-compatibles ran Lotus 1-2-3! Industry kicked off the massive adoption feedback loop, and, flash forward to the present day, we're all in a Microsoft universe.

    We will leave that universe NOT because the competition offers a compelling, beautiful, secure product that is compatible with the latest Apple blobject. We will leave it when the same hated procurement types start to calculate that the costs of staying in proprietary software outweigh those of running Free software. Once the argument is framed in those terms, the adoption loop will turn again, and people will be forced to use the platform they use at work, at school, or wherever.

    If Linux is or isn't ready for YOU, that's really your decision. But it's pointless to evaluate desktop Linux's chances of mass adoption assuming that the masses will all flock to a better, more secure, and more usable platform without being compelled to do so by some external force.

  • by keitosama ( 990483 ) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @07:56PM (#15931304)
    What makes iPods complicated to use on GNU/Linux desktops, is the iTunesDB file that has to be parsed and written for the iPod firmware to be happy. If it wasn't for that, you could just mount it as a regular USB drive, and copy the files over.

    A friend of mine recently bought an iPod video, and had a few fights with his media player while trying to compile an iPod plugin for it, but with no luck. When he came over to my place, I suggested that he could switch firmware to Rockbox [rockbox.org]. The installation might not have been the easiest, using dd to extract the firmware from the iPod's HDD, compile a tool which was then used to patch the original firmware with a bootloader, and then copy onto it the Rockbox binaries afterwards.

    However, it is now possible to just copy music into the mounted iPod using any file browser, and it'll show up in Rockbox immidiately. Rockbox also offers many new features to iPod owners. Does the Apple firmware play OGG Vorbis or FLAC files? WavPack? AC3, then? Rockbox still can't play video files, though, but the Rockbox bootloader actually sets up a dual boot environment, so that you're able to switch over for watching videos, or playback DRM'ed files, if you have to.
  • by msimm ( 580077 ) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @08:37PM (#15931504) Homepage
    And disappointingly, its always still current. Linux has a seriously split personality and I don't think its ever been the right way to be. On one hand we have this excellent well documented, stable server platform. Here I love it. Couldn't ask for anything more (don't hate me BSD users!).

    Of course the flip is the 'ready to dominate the desktop' thing. I've been using Linux for about 8 years and the one thing I haven't seen is a distro thats ready to take the place of a real, dedicated user environment.

    Now I'm guessing that making it ugly and cludgy by trying to keep both the archaic (but server friendly) aspects together with the newer (and definitely still immature) GUI pieces is a big part of the problem.

    I've got a box that can do everything, but only half as well. Its silly really. Top it off with the nuts and their struggle against *any* real change and you get exactly what you should expect to get: a system thats terminally mired in a wealth of old-school ideas (filesystem layout, lack of consistent driver API, DE abstraction, application fragmentation, etc).

    For a lot of people these things are all very good, but for the 'average' user it make Linux the subtle nightmare that it really is.

    I've been practically begging, for years, for someone to break the rules. Piss RMS off. I don't care really. Just give me an operating system that works like its 2006, proprietary drives and ALL.

    I'm using XP Pro now. I'll probably end up moving to Apple at some point because I respect them for focusing on the front end and still giving their users the power on the back end (exactly where Linux distro's get it all cocked up).

    Anyway, basically, I think its fear of rocking the boat and if there is *anything* more constricting then proprietary code thats definitely it.
  • by Cid Highwind ( 9258 ) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @09:09PM (#15931688) Homepage
    If you [kde.org] can't find [mit.edu] a way [gtkpod.org] to sync [gnu.org] your iPod [banshee-project.org] with your Linux machine [yamipod.com] you haven't really [armin.emx.at] been looking [linuxjournal.com]!

    When will we get to mod articles "-1, Troll"?
  • by fak3r ( 917687 ) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @11:56PM (#15932269) Homepage
    I plugged in my iPod to my iBook running Ubuntu Dapper 6.06 to change the batter -- guess what? Rhythmbox came up, with the iPod there. I doubled clicked on a song, and it played.

1 Mole = 007 Secret Agents