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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 also-rr ( 980579 ) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @05:51PM (#15930472) Homepage
    Linux is *not* user friendly,

    Well, it's not friendly to first post trolls perhaps.

    In my case I plugged in my MP3 player, it showed up on the desktop, I copied over some MP3s and they worked. Some people might have said this was because I picked an MP3 player that implimented a standard (USB bulk storage) protocol rather than one from a vendor who aims to keep everything locked up tight, but personally I think that it's just trying to make you jealous.
  • by Fordiman ( 689627 ) <fordiman@ g m a i l . com> on Thursday August 17, 2006 @05:59PM (#15930538) Homepage Journal
    Funny. I click to install my linux apps. You must be talking about those debian people.

    And all I had to do to get my iPod running was click 'Install support for iPod'. It did all the heavy lifting, and even put in gtkPod for me.

    Mind you, it doesn't work with iTunes, but lets face it, if you're considering Linux, chances are you've already rejected the DRM-encrusted mess that is iTunes.
  • by also-rr ( 980579 ) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @06:02PM (#15930572) Homepage
    Apple puts out a proprietary, defective-by-design consumer electronics product and won't port the required software to platforms other than Mac OS or Windows and it's somehow a Linux shortcoming?

    And the best bit is that I (and probably you soon) got moderated down for saying it.

    What do you expect Linux devs to do? Magically support every bit of hardware in existance without decent specs and no access to the closed DRM which makes the bit people are most unhappy to leave behind tick? Yes, I am aware that the actual format is open, thank you very much, but the DRM is not and so purchased large music libraries are non-trivial to convert to something that works on any platform.

    And yet the iPod does [] work on Linux (even the new ones). How about that for good service, and all for free I might add.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 17, 2006 @06:03PM (#15930573)
    And let's see how that plan works when you have 50,000 songs.

    Sure, you can carefully arrange your music into folders if you've got the time, but even then you can only have each song in one "list", unless you're willing to make multiple copies of your music for navigation purposes. Any sufficiently large music player needs an playlist/organization system, or it will be almost useless. It's not a matter of being proprietary, it's a matter of acceptably fast access to large amounts of discrete data elements. It's not as if the iPod uses some fancy data interface -- it's just a USB or FireWire disk -- it's the playlist data that needs special software.

    You could argue that the organizer software should all be integrated onto the device itself; that would certainly allow you to have a dumb interface to the computer. However, it would also impose significant limitations on the complexity of the organizer software, as the user interface on the device consists of (maybe) a tiny screen and a handful of buttons instead of a standard desktop GUI.

    So have fun with your "standard" device. I'll stick to one that actually lets me find the music I want.
  • by lkypnk ( 978898 ) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @06:12PM (#15930658)
    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.

  • by Jherek Carnelian ( 831679 ) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @06:13PM (#15930664)
    Linux zealots are far too forgiving when judging the difficultly of Linux configuration issues and far too harsh when judging the difficulty of Windows configuration issues.

    So something like:

    1. Go to "Applications -> Add/Remove..."
    2. Select and install "Banshee"
    3. Then click "Applications -> Sound and Video -> Banshee"
    4. Plug in Ipod
    5. You should see your iPod on the left panel, just like in iTunes.
    Is too difficult? []
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 17, 2006 @06:15PM (#15930683)
    Why is this modded as a "Troll"? Post makes complete sense to me.

    Funny, you must be really comfortable with accessing your iPod from Quake3 then.

    The post is an known, old troll where the lazy AC only managed to replace Quake 3 with iPod in the 'questions.' If you really used Linux 'for several years' you'd have spotted the trollness of it easily - iPod access is easy both in KDE and Gnome, what's missing is iTunes (for store+iPod use)
  • by also-rr ( 980579 ) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @06:15PM (#15930686) Homepage
    Well, yes. The strength of the OSS movement is that, technically, anything can be done. The fact that this has yet to be done points at a larger problem - the people who can, don't.

    The people who can, have. Then they turned it into a library and now iPod support is available in
    • amaroK
    • gPodder
    • gtkpod
    • iPodDisk
    • podtool
    • and Rhythmbox
    you were saying?
  • by thebrid ( 772919 ) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @06:18PM (#15930712)

    Alright, I'll bite. When was the last time you used Linux? Every modern distribution has some form of package management. I'm a Ubuntu user. Here are the steps I used to install GTKPod:

    1. Start Synaptic (it's under System | Administration | Synaptic Package Manager)
    2. Find GTKPod in the list of installable applications and check a checkbox to indicate that you want to install it.
    3. Click "Apply". At this point, the programme is downloaded to the computer and installed.

    Now, please remind me, how is this more difficult than Windows? The same process under Windows is longer and less secure. All packages from Ubuntu's repositories are digitally signed. Can the same be said for the random executable you just downloaded from a web site?

  • by Constantine Evans ( 969815 ) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @06:19PM (#15930722) Homepage
    At least on #ubuntu, experienced users/zealots usually tell users asking about how to install a specific software to use apt-get on the command line because, when giving instructions, it is the easiest way. For Ubuntu, there is the Add/Remove Programs app, which end users are supposed to use. But what is easier, telling a user to open a terminal from the menu and type in sudo apt-get install program, or telling the user to open Add/Remove Programs, type the name of the program, check the checkbox next to it, and click Install? While the latter might be the most intuitive, the former is far superior in a support situation, especially since there is little room for confusion, and the instructions are far easier to follow, even if it doesn't make sense.

    Sharpmusique worked well for buying music off of Itunes the last time I tried it, and had a quite intuitive installation in Ubuntu (download .deb, double click, type in password, press Install).

    Perhaps you are using the wrong distributions? Most major linux distributions are not like Gentoo.
  • 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.
  • Re:iPod != iTunes (Score:2, Informative)

    by Constantine Evans ( 969815 ) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @06:24PM (#15930767) Homepage
    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 [] (by Jon Johansen). That is, unless Apple has done something recently to prevent it from working.
  • iTunes IS bloated (Score:2, Informative)

    by keitosama ( 990483 ) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @06:44PM (#15930887)
    Hey, iTunes is a bloated piece of shit! Just having the application playing in the background playing uses lots of resources on my Power Mac G4, not to mention tagging files or searching through the library (I had to give up on searching and browse instead, because the iTunes was almost like freezing after every character I typed in). I quite recently bought a laptop and installed Ubuntu on it, and now I refuse to use anything but Quod Libet for listening to music! It is the ultimate music application!
  • 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?
  • 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 Enoxice ( 993945 ) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @07:27PM (#15931148) Journal
    May I suggest the Cowon iAudio X5 ( Great sound quality, plays FLAC/Ogg/mp3/anything you want. It doesn't create an id3 database: you drag your files/folders on there and they keep their original heirarchy. It's great!
  • 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 []. 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.
  • iPods *do* work (Score:2, Informative)

    by xdotx ( 966421 ) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @08:14PM (#15931395) Homepage
    I read this summary and simply *had* to poke my iPod, which is sitting infront of me, plugged into this Fedora Core 5 machine, to make sure it was still there. I agree with other posters, iTunes is bloated and crappy, and linux has great support for the iPod. FC5 instantly recognizes it, and I use (and prefer) GTKpod which is slim, simple and fast for importing/editing my iPod songs.

    How is it the article so elegantly avoided the obvious answer to it's intro question, 'will <Linux> work with my iPod?' Shouldn't somebody be writing an article about how Linux is keeping up with the times so well, as it has multiple free programs that offer great ipod support?
  • by EvilIdler ( 21087 ) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @08:27PM (#15931454)
    >They want something that's a media player, a library manager, a file uploader, an ID3 tag editor,
    > and a portable-device-syncronization manager
    Sounds a little like amarok..
  • by XchristX ( 839963 ) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @08:28PM (#15931464) various posts, let me summarize how the article's implication of poor ipod support is total bullshit and ipod works with linux just fine (in fact, better than with windows).

    libipod ( [] ) is the library that interacts with the database on the ipod that stores your music.

    Several music players on linux like amarok ( [] ), rhythmbox ( [] ), gtkpod ( [] ),( [] ) etc have plugins/embeddings that can interact with the library seamlessly

    Ipods are detected just fine by the USB mass storage driver with no probems in any modern linux distro.

    Itunes can be run thru wine (though I've never tried it), and Sharpmusique
    ( [] ) can connect with itunes, buy music, download and strip off the DRM so that the files can be played anywhere.

    CD-ripping and transfer to ipod can be done seamlessly in amarok (if you have lame etc installed). It's easier than in windoze thru third party rippers and itunes where there are all sorts of restrictions and issues.

    Both "pc-compatible" (fat filesystem) as well as "mac-compatible" (HFS filesystem) will work equally well on any linux box coz linux has drivers for both filesystems.

    Last but not least, there is ipodlinux ( [] ), where you can install linux firmware in your ipod itself. Advantage is that you can play videos in your nano, music management is thru filesystem rather than database so just treat it as a mass storage device in any OS, and a host of other linux stuff will work on it, and you can play any music format that can be played on linux, not just mp3's (ogm,wma etc). You can even play quake on it if you want.

    My nano ran just fine with my Mandrake box with no probs. Anecdotally, I had more problems with it on windoze (usb connection to it acted wierdly, though the usb bus was fine; I didn't care enough to analyze what was up).

  • In addition to that a quick search for ipod [] on Gnome Files turns up Banshee [] , Rhythmbox [] , Listen [] and Yamipod>{not open source} [] , all of these look like nice options for iPod and music library management under linux but Banshee and Listen really stand out. No DRM of course but there is an entry on codeweavers' site for iTunes though i've no idea how compatible it is at this stage. wse/name?app_id=134 []
  • by mr_shifty ( 202071 ) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @09:16PM (#15931718) Homepage
    As I pointed out to someone else already, Apple went well out of their way to ensure that the iPod only works on platforms they want it to.

    My Archos MP3 player is about as cross-platform as anything I've seen... did they design it to work with Linux? No.

    But they didn't go out of their way to prevent its use with Linux. Apple didn't HAVE to make it so you can't load songs on it with ONLY iTunes.

    But for their own very good reasons, they did.

    That is not a shortcoming of Linux.

    People have pointed out numerous times in the discussion on this article that there are multiple ways to get iPods to work on Linux and even iTMS to work from a Linux workstation. Despite Apple's efforts, it is still possible to do it... not always the most user-friendly of methods, but it is still possible.

    It would be easier if they didn't put so many obstacles in the path of users just wanting to use a product with their operating system of choice... as I mentioned above, my MP3 player manufactured by Archos works just fine. It's dirt simple to use. Plug it in, put whatever I want on it, songs, videos, playlists, photos, whatever. And it all just works. Even on Slackware.

    By contrast, in order to get an iPod to work on the same laptop, I'd have to do some pretty stupid shit, and even then there's no guarantee.

    I would think that a company as adept in the consumer electronics business as Apple would be a bit better at making something easy to use, and you know damned well they can. They simply chose not to.

    Again I ask, how on earth is that a shortcoming of Linux?

    Other MP3 players work just fine on it with no "workarounds" or hacks. Sounds to me like it's the iPod that has shortcomings.

    My wife discovered one just today when she was trying to copy the songs off her iPod to her laptop so she could listen to music while she was working in a different room of the house and didn't want headphones on so she could hear if the phone rang. Apparently there's no way to copy music off of it without either downloading some 3rd party freeware utilities or digging around the device's file structure to find some hidden folder.

    That utterly baffles me. People keep talking about how "easy to use" these things are, but at every turn Apple has placed barriers to do what I would consider to be very simple, intuitive things.

    The more time goes by, the more glad I am I didn't buy one when I was contemplating doing so... the one my wife has is maddeningly frustrating on a number of levels, and all of it seems to be by design.
  • by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @11:26PM (#15932198)
    Linux does nothing for me at home
    So why use it? If the point of the computer is to run photoshop, iTunes and the occasional game and you have spent the large amount of money for photoshop then it makes sense to use the environment it was designed for - or something that works tolerably with it like recent versions of MS windows if the games you like do not run on a Mac.

    Linux is for when you take the task based approach, where the requirement is for example - "to edit text", but if you take the application based approach "must run MS Word as fast as it can" the requirements really obviously limit your choices. Personally I don't want to shell out for photoshop because I am not a graphics arts professional and a wide variety of other applications can be used to crop and resize images.

  • by scottp ( 129048 ) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @11:31PM (#15932207)
    I just installed Rockbox on my 5th Gen Video is great for arranging the music, can actually put songs in folders instead of making playlists for them. The copy straight to ipod is sweet and makes for more sensible arrangement of songs.....PLUS since most of my CD's are ripped to OGG I can now play them without having to convert them to mp3's.......sweet!

    Also as far as the linux thing goes: I've tried a bunch of versions of linux since the early 1990's always hoping for the chance to convert from M$ on the desktop (nothing but *BSD on servers) but there has always been "problems" or no comparable linux programs......UNTIL UBUNTU 6.06....switched to it and not looking dreamweaver 8 working through wine, quickbooks working (invoicing), amaROK (itunes replacement), Symantec pcAnywhere (native now since version 11.5 - for the few people I can't convert to VNC), dual screen, feels so good to go to work and be productive and not have to put up with Windoze - its crashes, slugishness, anonyances, spyware/anti-virus updates, etc.....
  • by shadowman99 ( 598429 ) on Friday August 18, 2006 @12:24AM (#15932390)
    These settings have worked well for me.

    fullscreen video:

    ffmpeg -vcodec xvid -b 300 -bufsize 4096 -g 300 -acodec aac -ab 96 -i input.mpeg -s 320x240 -aspect 4:3 output.mp4

    Widescreen (such as a DVD source):

    ffmpeg -vcodec xvid -b 300 -bufsize 4096 -g 300 -acodec aac -ab 96 -i input.mpeg -s 320x190 -aspect 4:3 output.mp4


    I use gtkpod for my music management, and GPixPod when I want to throw some photos on my pod. Rythmbox for the occasional podcast.

    I like Rockbox. The quality of playback and the crossfading is nice. Volume can go higher than apple will allow using Rockbox. Themes are nice too. I don't like how it alphabetizes the track listings of an album. There's no simple way to make playback follow the ID3 track order. No video support either, so I dual boot my ipod between standard firmware and Rockbox quite a bit.

    Fuck the Zune.
  • Re:Bread and games (Score:3, Informative)

    by SenorCitizen ( 750632 ) on Friday August 18, 2006 @12:43AM (#15932439)
    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.
  • by Optikschmoptik ( 971793 ) on Friday August 18, 2006 @04:02AM (#15932937) Homepage
    Here's why this is such a silly conversation. Young people can figure this stuff out. If it takes a little tweaking to sync an iPod in linux, we will bother. We grew up on computers, and some of us think the command line is kind of fun. No, not all of us are computer-literate enough to make a completely painless transition to linux, but not all of us are anything. But the ones switching to linux--we're motivated by different things than "I just want my mysterious computer to work so I don't have to think about it LOL!"

    I'm young(ish), and I got my iPod to work on amarok. I download my podcasts through amarok and sync it up daily. No, it's not as easy as Windows or Mac, but amarok does default to syncing without deleting tracks that aren't on the hard drive. Amarok can 'rip' tracks off my iPod and add them to my HD's library. And amarok is free (not shareware or nagware or crackware like all of the Windows/Mac rippers I've been able to find). It was worth the two extra minutes of setup, and I can't imagine that the setup process would beguile any relatively computer-literate person, many of which happen to be: young iPod owners.

    I started using linux six months ago. There are a couple things that keep a windows kernel in my boot menu at home (ok, just age of empires and Traktor DJ studio), but ipod compatibility is not one of them. Grandma (or her young, equally non-technical equivalent, whoever that is) doesn't need to be able to install and sync ipods to every single OS candidate on the market. The market comprises more than just Grandma.

  • by _xeno_ ( 155264 ) on Friday August 18, 2006 @10:29AM (#15934458) Homepage Journal

    It doesn't hide it at all. iTunes by default automatically unmounts an iPod when it's done syncing it. As far as Windows is concerned, an iPod is simply a USB "mass storage" device and it can be accessed like one. That's how iTunes syncs the music to the iPod, it copies it over using normal file access.

    When an iPod is plugged in, you can click the iPod icon in the lower right corner of iTunes to bring up the iPod options dialog. On the Music tab there's a checkbox that reads "enable disk use." With it checked, iTunes won't automatically unmount the iPod and you can use it like any other USB hard drive.

    In fact, this is an advertised feature of the iPod. You can copy text files over to the Notes directory to view them from the iPod. It's not exactly hidden. The only reason it's not enabled by default is because this means you can't just unplug the iPod after it's done syncing, you have to manually unmount it either by "ejecting" it or using the "safely remove hardware" option under Windows.

"The pathology is to want control, not that you ever get it, because of course you never do." -- Gregory Bateson