<firstimage=”//static.makeuseof.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/intro11.jpg”>If 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 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, 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!
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.
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. 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.
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 of these to something like .MP3, .AAC, .ALAC, .AIFF or .WAV.
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.
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!