Rockboxing Your iPod


I was fed-up with my iPod.

It had been crashing a lot. And it refused to sync tunes to iTunes. Every now and then, it’d make clicky noises, those cockroach-type noises that, for me, signal the HD being on the way out.


I thought ‘what the fuck’ and decided to hack it. After all, how much worse could I make it?

This cavalier attitude coupled with insomnia brought me to Rockbox:

Rockbox is an open source firmware for mp3 players, written from scratch. It runs on a wide range of players:

* Apple: 1st through 5.5th generation iPod, iPod Mini and 1st generation iPod Nano
(not the Shuffle, 2nd/3rd gen Nano, Classic or Touch)
* Archos: Jukebox 5000, 6000, Studio, Recorder, FM Recorder, Recorder V2 and Ondio
* Cowon: iAudio X5, X5V, X5L, M5 and M5L
* iriver: H100, H300 and H10 series
* SanDisk: Sansa c200, e200 and e200R series
* Toshiba: Gigabeat X and F series (not the S series)
* More players are in development

Why should you run Rockbox? Click here to find out.

Now, it should have been a relatively quick and easy process. There’s a great, simply-written guide that babys one through the whole business They even provide Mac and PC installers to do the grunt work. If you can click a button, you can install Rockbox.


I’m a bit thick. And I started doing the crossgrade (actually, it’s more accurate to say upgrade) far too late. So, a combination of stupid and sleepy lead me to having an iPod that, for a couple of hours, was a silent golem, waiting for ‘truth’ to be inscribed on its forehead. Or at least HD.

Then I worked out that I hadn’t set the volume destination properly so, while the installer had installed the initial booty thingy, it hadn’t installed any other essential files. At least, I think that was it…

Once I worked this out, Rockbox booted:

This as a tremendous moment of satisafaction. I was lambent with pride, even though I actually hadn’t done anything, really. I certainly hadn’t done any true, down-and-dirty hacking. Or coding.

Then I started exploring the swish themes:

Ooooh! And what about:

Awwww, how lovely is that? The little brown tape bit on the left goes along as the song plays! 🙂

Should you install Rockbox? I’d say ‘yes’ provided you agree with all of the following:

* You don’t mind the possibility of something going wrong (in which case, you use iTunes to do a restore)
* You like tinkering with things
* You don’t mind manually managing your songs, using drag-and-drop (no iTunes sync… not that I had it anyway)
* You don’t blame me if your iPod explodes or your hair catches fire
* You don’t email me asking where the any key is
* You don’t email me when it all goes tits-up
* You don’t email me

So, if you can confidently agree with all the above, have a go! I’m now enjoying crossfading, free games (Invadrox is brilliant!), lovely, lovely themes and the feeling of smugness at having successfully made an existing device loads more interesting.

I’ve only scratched the surface of what Rockbox is capable of so far but I’m already loving it and boring all my mates with it! 😀