Tag Archives: ipod

Rockbox on iPod Nano 4th gen

Michael “TheSeven” Sparmann is one of the primary magicians behind the recent linux4nano efforts and he has done a lot of the Rockbox port for the iPod Nano 2nd generation.

Some 10 hours or so he posted this neat picture:

Ipod Nano 4th generation

… showing off custom code running on an iPod Nano 4th generation. If you want to keep track of his/their work on recent iPods, follow @linux4nano on twitter. I do!

While this is not yet Rockbox on the device, this is a least proof it can be done and this could indeed be seen as the first tiny steps towards a full port! Good job Michael!

Decrypting ipods

Recently we’ve seen progress by the linux4nano guys in their quest to get custom code to run on an Ipod Nano 2nd generation. They’ve apparently managed to extract the bootrom off a 2nd gen ipod nano (my copy of their extracted data is here – a reminder on objdump usage: “arm-elf-objdump -D --target binary -marm [file]“). I believe their intent is to port Linux to the newer ipods. Possibly ipodlinux. They do mention providing the necessary info to Rockbox and yes we will welcome it.

A large crowd of Rockbox hackers have joined their IRC channel and have been hanging out with them and helped out discussing ideas and pushed them towards publishing their news and infos on how this all is accomplished etc. Their SVN repo hosts some (most?) of the tools made so far.

The Rockbox wiki page for nano2g has been updated and hopefully it will keep track of what happens.

There have been speculations, but I don’t yet know based on what facts, that this recent news and hacks will be usable on other recent (encrypted) ipod models.

Summary: very interesting progress has been made. Lots of it is still left to figure out. There seems to be a bunch of skilled people around and now we’re seeing information and documentation for this getting published so I can’t but to hope for a bright future!


Frank Gevaerts and Jonas Häggqvist in the Rockbox project spent some time the other night when they should’ve been sleeping and made the Rockbox USB stack possible to fake being an iPod and thereby tricking iTunes to work with a non-iPod player quite transparently. As the picture shows, the target used here is a SanDisk Sansa e2x0 player…


This is still work in progress and not yet in SVN. Keep up with the bleeding edge activity in the #rockbox IRC channel on freenode!

DFU mode on 2nd gen Nanos

Some clever hackers in the Rockbox community wrote up a tool to access the Meizu players’ DFU mode (while running Linux – which I already mentioned), and using this we can upload and run code on several Meizu targets. The code is put and executed in SDRAM only. It makes it a perfect way to test new code on it.

The Meizu players have their SoC in common with Apple’s Nano 2nd gen and Shuffle 2nd gen.

There are indications that the Nanos have such a DFU mode as well, even though we don’t currently know of any way to trigger it by will. Possibly shorting the NAND chip or destroying the firmware or similar might do it.

If you have such a broken Nano or Shuffle, please get in touch and we can do some poking around!

Obviously, there’s a DFU mode on the iphone and iPod touch that can be triggered:

Your phone must be off, but attached via USB to the PC. Then you hold the power and “home” buttons for 10 seconds. At the ten second mark, you release the power button, but keep the “home” button pressed for another 10 seconds. At the end of that process, the phone enters DFU mode (the only way to tell is windows will tell you a USB DFU device has connected)” (thanks to GodEater)

Although I’m convinced our limited DFU experiments will not be a lot of fun on those devices (yet).

It seems iPod Classics can also go into this mode.

For the iPod Nano 2nd gen:

“To access DFU mode, reset the iPod with MENU+SELECT, then press and hold BACK+PLAY. A picture of the dock connector should appear with the Apple support URL; according to lsusb, this is DFU mode…  it seems that you have to first trash the firmware before you can access it.” (thanks to LambdaCalculus37)

Since autumn 2009, Rockbox boots and runs on the iPod Nano 2nd generation!

Rockbox on iPod Touch

iPod TouchWith the recently published jailbreak for iPod Touch, combined with the SDL port for iPhone there should be little in the way for running Rockbox on it as an application, pretty much in exctly the same way I mentioned how Rockbox could be made to run on mobile phones.

It seems a suitable place to start this venture is the iphone-dev project page.

While the iPhone and iPod Touch aren’t 100% identical internally, it seems they’re similar enough to make the differences possible to ignore. Also, the fact that what everyone does is build applications that run under the normal Apple-provided OS, there’s no need to know or learn how to poke on the actual hardware so subtle differences in audio chips etc is abstracted away by the operating system even for applications put on the unit this way.

Update nov 2008: With the recent developments on the linuxoniphone blog, it looks like an iPod Touch version of Rockbox is now a lot more likely to be possible. Still, nobody has yet volunteered to start this work and I won’t even say that it is likely that anyone will make an attempt.

Rockbox on the iPod Classic?

Let me be perfectly clear on this:

Nobody has done any sufficient research or investigation on the iPod Classics for anyone to tell how feasable a Rockbox port is or not. But, based on the assumption that the firmware and design choices are similar to that of the Nano 2nd generation, it offers great challenges to any hacker wanting to go down this road.Rockbox

Many many people confuse this matter with the recently discussed Apple adding a new checksum to the itunes database, and then the subsequent “crack” of that system. This will only allow Linux-users to use these ipods. It certainly does not in any way make it easier to run alternative firmwares on them.

I would rather say that you should all take this as an indication that Apple really doesn’t care one bit about Linux users. In fact, they only care for those who buy their whole package and that package is Windows with itunes or MacOS with itunes. If you’re not buying that concept, you should avoid Apple. Yes I really mean that.

To get Rockbox running on these models or any of the other newer ipod versions, we need fearless and skilled people to get players, rip them apart and do some actual hard-core research on how their internals work and how the firmware is stored and how firmware upgrades are made etc. The same old new-rockbox port drill.

There might be “an opening” to this device using the DFU mode.

Update: during July 2009 some people in the #linux4nano-dev channel managed to run code on the nano 2g (thanks to an exploit of an buffer overflow) and since then there have been fierce activity and custom code seem to run on the iPod Classics too. Still a lot of work and problems to overcome for a Rockbox port to become reality.