iPhone and iPad Linux

How To Transfer Music & Other Media To Your iPod Or iOS Device [Linux]

Tim Brookes 02-06-2011

<firstimage=”//static.makeuseof.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/intro11.jpg”>transfer music to ipodIf you’re using an iPod or iOS device, Linux might seem like a daft choice of operating system. Apple doesn’t officially support it, and whilst that’s a real shame (especially considering the UNIX similarities between OS X and Linux) it’s not, in some cases, insurmountable.


Unless you’re using the 4th generation device (or iPad) you shouldn’t have any issues transferring media, provided you’ve got the right software on your side. Unfortunately iPod Touch 4, iPad and iPhone 4 users running iOS 4.1+ won’t be able to use this method until the vital libgpod library used by gtkpod is updated to support these devices. Until then, they will mount (using the first method below) as read-only. As soon as libgpod gets an update we’ll pencil in the details here. For the rest of you it’s easy, and you’ll be loading music onto your Apple device in no time.

Getting Penguins To Talk To Fruits

Note: If you’re using a non-iOS device, e.g. iPod or iPod nano, you do not need this – skip to the next section below. If you are using an old iPod Touch (1G, 2G, 3G) or iPhone (1G, 2G, 3G) then you do need this.

In order to get Linux and your iPhone or iPod Touch (old ones, remember) on speaking terms you’re going to need to download libimobiledevice. Once you have installed this package, your Apple device and Linux operating system will play along nicely.

Visit libimobiledevice.org to either download a package suitable for your particular distribution, or compile from source How to Compile & Install TAR GZ & TAR BZ2 Files in Ubuntu Linux Read More if you’re that way inclined. Ubuntu users who would like a quick install can open a Terminal window and paste:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:pmcenery/ppa
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install libimobiledevice1

Note the 1 at the end of the command! There are other packages available for OpenSUSE, Fedora Fedora 12 - A Visually-Pleasing, Highly-Configurable Linux Distro You Might Want To Try Read More , Mandriva and Debian, all located at the above URL. Once you’ve set that up, you’re good to go – time to plug in that iPhone!

transfer music to ipod

On most distributions the device will mount itself automatically. If it doesn’t you’ve either not installed the above package or will need to mount the device according to your distribution’s guidelines.

You now have filetree access to your device. Prod around if you want, you’ll find your camera images in the DCIM folder if you want to quickly copy and paste them to a local folder for backup.

transfer music to ipod without itunes

Note: don’t delete anything from the DCIM folder (or any location, really) as this does not update your iTunes database. Your iPhone will think the files are still there and you’ll have to manually delete a bunch of fuzzy thumbnails later.

Transferring Music & Video

From experience, there’s only one program I would recommend for this task – Banshee, a clever little all in one solution Banshee 2.0 – A Comprehensive Media Player, Streamer & Podcast Tool [Linux] The Banshee media player was first released in early 2005 and has since come on leaps and bounds. Probably the closest thing Linux has to iTunes, Banshee comes with an integrated music store, Internet radio,... Read More . The app supports music, video, podcasts and audiobooks. In fact, you can use anything listed at the bottom of this gtkpod webpage and this includes a few familiars like Rhythmbox, Amarok and podtool.

Here I’ll be sticking to Banshee as it is the standard music player for Ubuntu 11.04, but if you’re using an older version or different distribution you’ll need to grab the appropriate one at the Banshee download page.

transfer music to ipod without itunes

With your iPhone (or iPod Touch) connected and mounted, start up Banshee. Click on your device in the left hand sidebar and Banshee will display a page which allows you to determine whether you want manual or automatic music sync – manual is always best.

Next you’ll need to add music to the Banshee database. Simply choose Media then Import Media then decide on whether to import your entire library or simply the selection you want on your device. There’s no support for .FLAC, .OGG, .APE or similar so make sure you’ve transcoded any How To Convert FLAC To MP3 To Make Your Music Portable Read More of these How To Convert FLAC To MP3 To Make Your Music Portable Read More to something like .MP3, .AAC, .ALAC, .AIFF or .WAV.

transfer music to ipod without itunes

With your music imported, choose your default Music playlist. Next simply select the artists, albums or single tracks you would like on the device (Ctrl+Click for multiple choices). The next step is simple – drag your chosen artists, albums and so on to your device listed under Devices in the side menu (e.g. iPhone). Banshee will immediately begin transferring files, and your device should notify you that a sync is in progress.

Note: This probably sounds obvious, but please don’t unmount or disconnect your device whilst sync is in process. You will probably corrupt your device’s database file and cause all manner of headaches.

transfer music to ipod

That’s pretty much it, and it works just the same with video only you’ll need to make sure your device supports the video format you are trying to sync (supported filetypes include: .MP4, .M4V & .MOV).


It’s a shame that gtkpod hasn’t updated for the latest Apple firmware, but it’s hopefully only a matter of time. With a powerful program like Banshee at the helm, controlling your media is a pretty straightforward task. You don’t quite get the same functionality as you’d get from iTunes (firmware updates are the big one there, I think) but it works. At least for some. Banshee also works on Windows and OS X, for those of you who are desperate to leave iTunes behind.

Have you got an iPhone but also run Linux? Are there better tools out there than Banshee? Maybe you’re an iTunes refugee? Have your say in the comments below!

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  1. abel
    March 3, 2018 at 5:05 am

    everything worked fine up to the last step of installation and it then says "Package 'libimobiledevice1' has no installation candidate"

  2. Elise
    August 17, 2016 at 10:46 am

    I know had the following problem:
    when I tried add or remove music using Banshee, it "pretended" to do that, but nothing changed on the iPod. When I tried the same using gtkpod, an error message appeared when I tried to save it: HashInfo file is missing

    This was solved by the following:
    Find the UUID, which is (in my case) a 40 digit number. You get it here:
    lsusb -v | grep -i Serial

    Then get this HashInfo file here and follow the instructions:

    Good luck!

  3. fckoff
    April 24, 2015 at 7:48 am

    weird ppa stuff....... don't use

  4. Rameshkarthickk
    June 12, 2011 at 3:45 pm

    I have iTouch 2G and I tried everything as suggested in this post. I have only music present in iTouch. But banshee never reads this as audio files and shows this as other files. I have around 4GB of audio files in my iTouch. When I drag and drop files into iTouch, banshee shows that it is syncing iPod but this process goes on forever. I have also attached a screen shot of these two issues. 

    Can these two issues be solved? Any help would be highly appreciated.

    • Tim Brookes
      June 12, 2011 at 7:34 pm

      What OS are you using? I can't vouch for every device working, I know iPhone 4 or similar won't work (as the post states) but I've had success with an iPod 4G.

      Any other iTouch users had success?

  5. rmnr
    June 11, 2011 at 6:06 pm

    Tried Ubuntu, Mint, and PinGuyOS (all are Ubuntu/Ubuntu-based). Tried with gtkpod, Banshee and RhythmBox. They appear to work, however they fail when generating checksums/file hash when trying to write/update to the ipod's music database.

    Currently, nothing in Linux works with the iphone4/equivalent ipod.

    This is a known bug/fact. 

    Tried the hack discussed on this page:

    I couldn't get mine to work, but it appears that this hack produces varying degrees of success for others. 

  6. Akshay Zade
    June 10, 2011 at 8:34 pm

    Shhh... I want to tell you a secret! Banshee just pretends to work! It never gives the result!
    C'mon, know something before publishing. Banshee just fails to write the music database and this is known and confirmed bug on launchpad. Moreover, it will shuffle all your album arts so that you have Shakira smiling at you while Linkin Park is hammering your ears.

    • A Reputable Name
      June 11, 2011 at 3:56 am

      Strange It works for me, I don't know what your talking about.

    • Tim Brookes
      June 12, 2011 at 7:38 pm

      As I've made clear in the post, nothing will work with the newer iOS devices and until someone comes up with something then we're all stuck sitting patiently. I have however had success transferring audio with Banshee and an older 4th generation (Video?) iPod.