Step by step: How to sync your Apple iPod (iPod 1g through 5.5g, iPod Mini and iPod Nano 1g) with Songbird using Rockbox

  • Idea
  • Updated 5 years ago
Hi everybody,

Here's a basic step by step guide to show you hot to sync your Apple iPod with Songbird without the no longer maintained iPod Device Support Addon. Maybe the idea of installing a new firmware on your iPod scares you, but in reality it's very simple and if you don't like the Rockbox interface you can easily uninstall it and go back to iTunes.

First of all you maybe want to know what rockbox is:

Basically it's an open source project aiming at providing more features for your digital music device by loading it's own small OS but NOT touching the original firmware. That means that your Device still can be restored to its original condition if you don't like Rockbox.
For more details have a look here: Rockbox FAQ

The main advantages are that your Device will become an MSC Device and that you'll have much more features than with the orignal Firmware.

These devices can be used with Rockbox:

Apple: iPod 1g through 5.5g, iPod Mini and iPod Nano 1g
Archos: Jukebox 5000, 6000, Studio, Recorder, FM Recorder, Recorder V2 and Ondio
Cowon: iAudio X5, X5V, X5L, M5, M5L, M3 and M3L
iriver: iHP100 series, H100 series, H300 series and H10 series
Olympus: M:Robe 100
SanDisk: Sansa c200 series, e200 series and e200R series
Toshiba: Gigabeat X and F series

So how do you install your Rockbox:

1. Grab the Rockbox installer for your OS and follow its instructions to set up your Rockbox device: http://www.rockbox.org/download/

Please refer to your Device's rockbox manual for any questions which can be downloaded here: http://www.rockbox.org/manual.shtml

Important: If you are using Ubuntu Karmic, you'll have to start the Rockbox utility with the "gksu" prefix to be able to access your iPod. How do you do that: right click on the extracted rbutilqt and select "open with another application" and under command type: "gksu". This gives Rockbox admin rights which will ensure that it can work properly.

2. After installing Rockbox you can simply create a Folder on your iPod, e.g. /media/IPOD/music and either manually copy your music onto your device or let Songbird to do that.

If you are running Songbird on Windows you can install the MSC Device Support addon for syncing to the music folder on your device or you can use the OS independent FolderSync Addon .

I must admit that I haven't tried it with the MSC addon as I'm a Linux user. Any comments if it works or not are welcome.

With the FolderSync addon you can easily select Playlists or your whole library to be transferred onto your device with many options (e.g. a certain folder structure).

I must say it works like a charm and after a short time of adjustment you'll love Rockbox with its many features (e.g. for Doom fans out there, yes you can play doom on your iPod ;).

I hope that this small how to encourages you to give your (maybe soon rockboxed) iPod and Songbird a second chance as the ipod device support is not seeming to come back soon.

Any comments/reports are appreciated.

cheers,

Lito
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Lito

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  • happy

Posted 6 years ago

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klint, Champion

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Thanks a lot, Lito :)
We now have something to propose to those users who really want to get rid of iTunes on MacOs, Windows and even Linux, and hopefully are ready to give Songbird a second chance, as you say.
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Lito

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User with a 2nd gen iPod nano please read this: http://www.rockbox.org/wiki/IPodNano2...

I'd like to add that with FolderSync you'll also be able to transfer your playlists in the m3u format to your Rockbox. It won't only transfer the files but you'll have to activate this in the properties dialog.
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Jan Kuča

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Any solution for iPod Shuffle 2nd gen?
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Lito

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Unfortunately not yet. you can check this site for updates: http://www.rockbox.org/wiki/IpodPort#...
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Andrew Luecke, Champion

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Keep in mind though, if you have an ipod released before the touchwheels (3rd gen or older), Rockbox runs poorly.. Good to see someone has written this though ;)
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Lito

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hmm.. I'm running Rockbox on a 3rd gen and a 4th gen iPod... both work very well. What problems have you encounterd on the 3rd gen ipod?
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Andrew Luecke, Champion

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The music was skipping alot.. Although, that was ages ago i tried it (2 years ago maybe).. It was this ipod: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia...

But maybe it has gotten better...
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Lito

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That's the iPod I'm using. I haven't found any problems up till now and the music plays fine. Seems like this problem has been solved.
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spk2629

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love the concept but I'll be honest and say it scares me more than a little to try it. I do LOVE SB but am not ready to take such a plunge. I think I'll be a wuss and wait to see if anything else changes. I want to say, though, that you get props for introducing this idea for the community;)
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Lito

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Installing Rockbox won't change your original firmware. It just loads its own software during the boot process. That means that you can easily uninstall rockbox with the Software utility and in extreme cases (seems like this never happens) there's still a hard wired iPod reset which restores your ipod to the original condition. You can even access the music synced with itunes from the rockbox interface, in fact rockbox is just a hidden folder created on your ipod (.rockbox) and a bootloader, so don't be afraid to try it. Maybe you first wanna read this which covers most of this topics: http://www.rockbox.org/wiki/IpodFAQ
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Chris

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That already what I'm doing to manage my songs on my Ipod 1st Gen with rockbox, but I guess FolderSync only syncs 1 way from SB to Ipod. As I am classifying (stars) songs while I'm listening to them and I am collecting listen stats then it all gets deleted when syncing.
MSC doesn't work at all as my ipod is not detected at all on SB.
Do you have any idea?
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Lito

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Hi Chris,
you're right, FolderSync only syncs one way. Unfortunately I haven't tried the MSC addon at all, as I'm using Linux, so I can't help you.
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klint, Champion

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Anyway, automatic sync with the MSC addon would also work one way only (Songbird to Device). Manual sync would work both ways though.
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the4nd

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I'm on Windows and currently trying this procedure idea, but I can't even get FolderSync to work (as reported above, MSC device support isn't working at all with the ipod but it is with my external hard drive).
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the4nd

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yep, exactly. rockbox up and running, iPod (it's a 30G video, 5.5gen - hadn't said that before) connected in disk mode (disk use enabled on iTunes). I can access it from explorer as usual, I already have created a folder to sync to, but neither MSC nor foldersync seem to work: it does not appear as a device in SB, and trying to sync with foldersync gets that addon stuck, with "NaN%" next to the empty progress bar, everything greyed out, but ready to go if i reload the side pane. (I think this might also have to do with another issue I've had yesterday: disappearing playlists -> http://getsatisfaction.com/songbird/t... - this might prevent foldersync from working?)
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Lito

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I can't help you with the MSC addon, as I don't know exactly how it should work, but maybe you'll have to deactivate the ipod support addon (which doesn't work anyway) to get it running. As far as foldersync is concerned, the problem with your playlist could indeed cause this behaviour. Have you tried running songbird with a fresh profile ? http://wiki.songbirdnest.com/Docs/Pro...

There's also an error with foldersync sometimes if you wanna sync tracks in your library with no physical file on your harddisk. You can look for these ghosts with the Exorcist addon.

Another option is to download this debug version of foldersync : http://sbfoldersync.googlecode.com/fi...

It shows you all errors in the error console so you should see at least what is causing this error and contact the author: http://addons.songbirdnest.com/addon/...

or here:

http://code.google.com/p/sbfoldersync/
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the4nd

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As for the ipod addon, after replying to the other thread i uninstalled it promptly..it didn't work as it was supposed to possibly do;
as for issues with foldersync i didn't have the time to troubleshoot them for the moment, i will do it as soon as possible.
The Exorcist addon isn't working with this version of sb, thus i uninstalled it (also because it was suspected to be the cause of the missing playlists..)
i'll update news as soon as i try any of the solutions mentioned above.
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Lito

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Ok. There's a new exorcist addon for versions > 1.4:

http://addons.songbirdnest.com/addon/...
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the4nd

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Sorry I haven't replied in a long time, but I had some major issues with Rockbox, mostly with the battery life, which was about 30 minutes each full charge; after the latest firmware update Rockbox, too, works fine.
I solved the playlist issue changing profile (which btw took me long enough to setup and load with extensions), and finally I could try syncing with foldersync. In the end, it all worked out fine: even though MSC/MTP disk support cannot see an iPod plugged in, either in normal or in disk mode, FolderSync sees it as an external drive. The only issue left when syncing is though with playlists: exported pls or m3u files will have the wrong relative paths. The only solution I've found is to manually edit them, replacing automatically the paths; I wanted to make a small batch file to fully automate the process, but the command prompt on Vista x64 I'm using (sic!) doesn't support commands such as "edit", thus I just gave up after a while - good thing I don't have huge playlists!
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ber buck

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pity there's nothing like this for the iPod classic.
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Dan OZ

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running songbird under karmic, my ipod works like a charm now, thanks for your help!
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Mystitsu

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this is exactly what I have been looking for. Been wanting to try rockbox forever. and now I know it can be done and you answered a lot of other questions and no nasty icky itunes!
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Lito

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I'm glad this helped you guys,

Keep spreading the word, so that others can enjoy their rockboxed iPods with Songbird too.
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Jeff

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I've installed Rockbox on my iPod Nano 1st Gen, and it works great. The only problem I am having now is getting it to show up in Songbird (currently using build 1.7.2b1). I have the MSC Device Support extension installed, but my iPod never appears. It's strange because every other USB device I have seems to show up just fine. I even tried clearing the list of Ignored USB Devices in Options->Main, but that didn't fix it.

Any ideas?
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mdickerman

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This looks great, but am I correct that the Last Played date doesn't sync back? Only play counts and ratings come back from the Rockboxed iPod?