After Hours

iPods and the Penguin


Now that the new iPods have disabled Linux compatibility, there's a lot of griping out there. As Gizmodo points out:

Using a third party app (such as Winamp in Windows as well) to unlock or modify the database file (i.e., load up or sync your iPod), will make your iPod tell you the number of songs on it is a big, fat zero. Work's started on a hack, but it'd be nicer if Apple fixed this themselves. You know, instead of totally cutting off a not-insignificant swath of their customers.

As hacking proceeds, you might just decide to opt out of the Apple array altogether. At downloadsquad.com, they've published side-by-side comparisons of the Nokia N800 with both the iPhone and iPod Touch.

Do you think Apple will eventually re-introduce Linux compatibility without forcing people to try to hack their way in? What do you think the best open source alternatives are to the iPod?

I have an absolutely no-frills MP3 player from Creative Media, and I'm considering stepping up to the iPod Nano. I don't need to carry around over a zillion songs. Other suggestions?

About

Selena has been at TechRepublic since 2002. She is currently a Senior Editor with a background in technical writing, editing, and research. She edits Data Center, Linux and Open Source, Apple in the Enterprise, The Enterprise Cloud, Web Designer, and...

13 comments
Tig2
Tig2

They can say "bye-bye" to me. I prefer agnostic hardware. Period. In my family, we have made a decision to move to Linux. If something can't be supported in Linux, we just don't bother or find something that CAN. Don't know what Apple is thinking. I do know that we may be seriously re-thinking the kid's Christmas gift- had been planning to get him a new PowerBook. Hmmm

brian.mills
brian.mills

Having not done a whole lot of shopping around for music players, my 5G 80GB iPod was the only viable option when I was purchasing a new player. I wanted to have my entire library, which at the time of purchase was around 30GB and has now grown to around 35-40GB, so there wasn't really any other option. I'm currently content using Firefly Media Server on Ubuntu to serve files to iTunes on the computers on my network, and only opening the iTunes library connected to the main repository when I'm adding new music or syncing my iPod. I'd never bothered to try to make my iPod work with Linux, so I'm just bummed that I won't be able to do so in the future if I so desire, but it does seem rather backwards to try to lock out a segment of the market base from using a new product. Maybe Apple will get enough complaints and fix it in a firmware update.

nighthawk808
nighthawk808

Then again, that's probably because I have a SanDisk Sansa instead of an iPod. I avoided the iPod precisely because of their obsessive focus on iTunes. That they would intentionally break the Linux compatibility that the open source community worked to build FOR THEM doesn't surprise me a bit. That's also why when I was shopping for a new MP3 player last year, Apple wasn't even on my list.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

My wife loves her iPod, I love my N800. Granted, she uses it for music only and I use mine for everything from playing media to editing office documents and auditing security. I'm also a two and a half week old N800 owner after years loving my Tungsten T5 but the N800 is the closest thing to a limitless pocket sized PC out ther right now. Even with the romantic honeymoon finally coming to and end; the N800 is one of those rare purchases that came without a single moment of buyer's remourse. I just keep finding new ways to extend it's uses. Tomorrow, the weatherproof hard case for storage. Later, the bluetooth keyboard and gps units. (maemo mapper is increadable even without a gps reciever.) Now if only Inno Pocket would make a form fitting tin case for it, the reast would be software side additions.

jtbowerse
jtbowerse

If Apple's motivation for this is really to lock people into iTunes and the Music Store, then I think they're making a huge strategic mistake. This was exactly the type of thinking that put their computer technology into an "also ran" status behind Wintel for so many years (they still haven't recovered!). The iPod is Apple's killer product, but they're about to blow it by totally locking it up and keeping it proprietary...just like they did with their computers for so many years. With Vista's recent disappointments and Microsoft's attempts to control the world, many people are looking for alternatives to Microsoft. Linux is an obvious winner in this. Apple could be too, but they're trying to blow it, IMHO.

Systems Guy
Systems Guy

I think back over the years of the different manufactures that tried to control their market. Of course, Apple is one. Texas Instruments when they came out with the TI99 home computer. The first commercially available 16 bit home computer. They could have ran off with the market. But no. It was all proprietary. You had to buy software and hardware from them. There a few things available from 3rd parties. IBM and the microchannel. Technically superior to anything else at the time. Again, you had to get stuff from IBM or some 3rd party vendors. They did license the technology, but my understanding is that the fees were high. In just about every case, when a company tried to control the market, the market responded by going a different route, thus leaving the company to fall behind. They just don't get it.

JohnMcGrew
JohnMcGrew

Linux will never be "mainstream" until a critical mass of gadgets support it. The iPod has been the killer-app for the 00s, and for Apple to shun Linux is clearly one big step backwards.

jlwallen
jlwallen

a company that uses BSD as their base gives the Linux community the snub. that's really sad because the developers at gtk-pod have done such a good job. of course it's only a matter of time before they get around this. but i can say that the current ipod i have will be my last. i will opt for a device that will support linux fully. and as for the iPhone - who needs a device that requires you to sync it with iTunes? iTunes? last i heard that was a music application. now it's a PIM? no thanks - i'll pass.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

hehe.. I just thought of that one and had to try it out. The hacker giveth and the kiddies and cracker abusith.

Alfa11
Alfa11

I have also an Ipod Nano 1st gen, it was my first and will be my last. Next time I have to buy an MP3 player I'll go for Creative, Sandisk or whatever. I hate Apple always trying to make you use their crappy and slow software.

mjwx
mjwx

I used to support creative, I had an old Zen Neeon which was great. It broke about 2 months ago so I went and bought a new Zen Vision M only to find out it was Windows only. It relied on an MS protocol called MTP (Media Transfer Protocol) which is only in Media player 10 and up (some third party apps have it but I prefer to have it act like a flash disk). I took it back to the store, (Kudos to Dick Smiths Electonics in Australia for taking back no questions asked, well they did ask but I said I didn't like it.) I bought an Iriver X20 instead. What a Linux user really needs to look for in a media player is MSC (mass storage class) functionality, which allows the owner to transfer music as if it were a flash disk this way it works on any OS which can support USB flash disks. I recommend this to any one who is buying an MP3 player.

Dumphrey
Dumphrey

makes several very nice players. I have used their X5 for about 6 months now and love it. It is a mass storage class device,, and supports FLAC and OGG as well as wma and mp3. It will play properly formatted video on its tiny screen, but if you are watching video on a screen that small, you have issues beyond syncing...they make devices with bigger screens just for video... Sound quality is excelent, a lot of tweaks on the device, and an aftermarket firmware from rockbox if you want to play Doom on it... What can I say, its awsome. The software that comes with it is useless in linux, but the device its self works fine.