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Getting an iPod

Let’s face it: Current digital players suck. iPods suck. iRiver sucks. Sony is a bunch of bastards.

Okay. Spleen has been vented. Let me catch my breath… whew.

In theory, digital players are the same. They play music files in a nice portable form factor. They are like tape-cassette walk-men from the 80’s. They come in various shapes, sizes and the battery lasts a different amount of time; but they are all play music. A few throw in a radio too, just for fun.

Until you look a little closer and look at the software. The evil evil evil software.

Topic Change!

By now, you should know that I use Linux. I don’t like Microsoft Windows and preferring something sane.

You probably also know I have lots of music. About 35 gigabytes. 8,600 songs. I figured out how many minutes of music a had a couple years ago, and you’d have to listen straight for many days with no break to hear every song in a row.

This sets up what my situation is when I go looking for digital player (again).

Back to the story…

The iPod can work with Ubuntu1, but it isn’t supported by Apple. The hardware is nice. The software is okay, but it doesn’t play Ogg Vorbis. It’s preferred format is AAC. The ACC tools in Linux are not very good and I haven’t tried using it yet. MP3s are supported, but I cannot stand them as a rule because all the encoders I have ever used create high pitched artifacts that are painful for me to listen to.

iRiver has some nice hardware too. Having an FM tuner in your digital player is nice. It supports Ogg Vorbis out of the box. It’s a little pricey. None are as big as I really want (60gig+). And I really want to play with a device before I buy it; iRiver only has a few, usually older, models available in stores. At the Apple store, I can play with an iPod and I have friends that have them. Heck, my wife has one! But there is no Linux support. It’s supposed to work, but I really don’t want my digital player to turn into an embedded development project. I just want it to work.

Then there are things like Sony’s players and Microsoft’s Zune, which both are DRM’ed out the wazoo and therefor completely useless.

Hmm… no clear winners. A couple obvious losers. In addition, making a bad choice can cause lots of trouble for me.

And then fortune smiled on me! My wife’s 4gig iPod’s battery died. Since it was dead anyway, she gave me permission to play with it. This wasn’t all that bad for Robin. She got to look for new device online.

So while she was looking at the various trade offs I previous looked at, and cursing out Sony and other idiotic vendors, I played with Rockbox using her pink iPod mini.

You know, I liked it! I got Oggs, it did what I wanted, it was hackable and worked with Linux. It’s user interface isn’t the greatest and it has some problems, but it’s not bad. I was even able to compile my own rockbox firmware and installed it easily.

In the end, I got Robin’s pink iPod mini (second generation) and bought a new battery for it for $30 USD. Robin got a new 60gig (5th generation) iPod Video. I encouraged her to get a bigger one so that when the battery dies, I’ll get that one. :-)

I hope my music collection fits in 60gigs in two years.


  1. Ubuntu Forums has hints about using iPods with Ubuntu.

Comments

Gravatar for era
era

Looks like you should link to rockbox.org, not .com (domain parking lot, probably reeking with malware under the surface and all that …)

Thanks for useful research!

Gravatar for docwhat
docwhat

era: Thanks. Geez. I always get those mixed up when I’m just typing. I’m glad I could help. Rockbox is even cooler than when I wrote this. Though I wish they had the Scroll Wheel Acceleration patch for the iPods. I have something like 3000 artists, so scrolling through the list takes a little while…

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The personal blog of Christian Höltje.
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