As cool looking as it is, the iPod is just a screen and a thumb wheel mounted on a laptop hard drive. With that in mind why can’t I use it as a hard drive? I could just drag and drop my music on my iPod without ever needing to install iTunes. If my computer died I could copy the music from my iPod back to my new computer without batting an eye.
While we are at it how about the ability to play music formats I want (Ogg Vorbis, Flac etc) to use rather than the 4 Apple approves of and the restrictions that come with them? Don’t get me wrong, Apple is a first rate industrial design company, but it feels a little like the RIAA has been talking to their development team.
The real problem is that in spite of all that, the iPod hardware is so much nicer than anything else and I still want one. Fortunately there is a resolution to this cognitive dissonance: Rockbox. Installing it on your iPod instantly gives you gapless playback, UMS (Making your device operate like a USB harddrive), support for replaygain and lossless audio formats as well as Ogg Vorbis and just about every other format I can think of.
I stumbled upon the Rockbox project about a year ago and have been watching with interest as it steadily added support for more players. When it finally added support for the iPod, I began seriously looking at getting one. Finally, Last time we were at Costco, Jenn suggested that since the price was good and there was a nice return policy in case the Rockbox thing did not work out, that I might want to take my birthday present a little early. As it happens she and my Mum and Dad had decided to split on one for me! YAY!
The first part of the installation involves finding the iPod backing up the Apple firmware and installing a boot loader that will allow you load rockbox instead of the Apple firmware. Once the bootloader is in you just need to drop the files from the appropriate build into the root directory of your iPod and then reboot it.
I have been playing with Rockbox for a few days now and am thrilled with it. It still has some rough edges in the interface and the video playback is not there yet but when the speakers are shoved directly into your ear as they are with headphones you really appreciate the quality of the Ogg Vorbis and lossless Flac files. It can even play Doom! Needless to say, it does not appear that I will be needing that return policy. To all the developers working on the Rockbox project, great job, rock on!
Thanks to Jenn and Mum and Dad for the awesome, and somewhat early, gift!