Thursday, June 22, 2006

Getting To Know My Nano Again

I tried iPod Linux a few months ago but didn't really like it too much. So when I heard Mark Shuttleworth mention Rockbox in a recent podcast, I decided to give it a try and I must say that I am very impressed. It allows you play ogg files and adds extra functionality and even voice. This is how they describe Rockbox on their site:
Rockbox is an Open Source replacement firmware for hard-disk digital audio players including the Archos Jukebox 5000, 6000, Studio, Recorder, FM Recorder, Recorder V2 and Ondio MP3 players. Development of Rockbox for the iriver H1xx and H3xx series of players as well as the iPod 4G grayscale, Color/Photo, Nano and Video (5G) is underway.

My nano was formatted on OS X so it had the hfs filesystem but Rockbox requires fat32 so I used the 'iPod Software Updater' for Windows, and 'restored' the iPod. I then followed the instructions for installing the bootloader on iPods here. Installing the bootloader is the trickiest part but if you if create a c:rockbox folder and download the files into that folder you basically can just copy and paste the lines into the command prompt.

Installation of rockbox itself was much easier, you just unzip the latest build into the top directory of your iPod. The next time you reboot the iPod (hold menu and the 'on' button for 4-5 seconds, the 'on' button is the center button) rockbox loads up.

Playing Music

You don't add music through iTunes, (you can but you wont be able to find the files through rockbox)
you just put them on the ipod using disk mode wherever you want. I just created a 'Music' and a 'Podcasts' folder and drug what I wanted to in to those folders.

IMPORTANT: For some reason the files didn't write to the iPod if I just disconnected it from the computer. You must choose the 'safely remove hardware' icon in the system tray and stop the Ipod before proceeding to unplug it if your using Windows. Right click and unmount on Linux or eject on OS X. You will see a green check on the iPod when its safe to unplug.

Whenever you want to access your files press the middle (on) button and when you want to access options press the menu button.

Image Hosted by
The options screen.


Yes, It is kind of ugly at first but you can download extra themes from the WPS gallery that corresponds with your particular model of media player. I chose the 'remixed black glass' for the nano. I didn't know at first how to install the theme but it turned out to be pretty straight forward.

There is a folder named .rockbox which is hidden so obviously you have 'show hidden files' in order to see it in Windows. Then drag the contents of the files from the theme folders into the corresponding folders in the .rockbox folder on your iPod. There wasn't a 'fonts' folder so I just created one. Unmount the iPod then unplug it.

Image Hosted by
Remixed Black Glass theme. (WPS)


The plugins that come with rockbox are varied and range from a calculator to Doom and getting Doom installed was easy. I just followed the instructions here. I was amazed at how smoothly it ran and it was even very controllable! If only I had an iPod video I'd try the Gameboy emulator, Rockboy...
Image Hosted by Image Hosted by
Image Hosted by
Bubbles, Pacman, and Doom.

No comments: