February 16, 2009

Using an iPod Nano on Linux

Filed under: Linux — Chris @ 6:43 pm

I recently bought an iPod Nano and I’m pleased to report it works just fine with Ubuntu 8.10 (aka Intrepid) and Amarok. I’m able to sync MP3s and podcasts (including video podcasts). I’m even able to transcode videos to MP4 and copy them over by hand. The only hitch is certain special menu entries like “Videos -> TV Shows” that seem to be controlled by iTunes and are, in my case, sadly depopulated. (This isn’t a Linux-specific issue. I was never able to get Audible audiobooks into the top-level “Audiobooks” menu on my old iPod. That was on a Mac, using iTunes. I’m thinking Apple wants to nudge you towards the iTunes Store.)

The instructions here and here are for the most part sufficient, but I thought I’d try to update and boil them down to a few easy steps, if only to increase the overall quality of Google searches for “ipod linux”. The instructions below are for Amarok, but should be easily adapted to Rhythmbox or gtkpod.

[UPDATE] These instructions are for a FAT32-formatted iPod, which includes any brand-new iPod which has not previously been connected to a Mac. I don’t recommend trying to use an HFS+-formatted iPod on Linux. The support for HFS+ is flaky and the filesystem tends to get corrupted frequently. (This may mainly be a problem with going back and forth between Mac and Linux, but there’s no good reason to use HFS+ unless you are going back and forth.) [/UPDATE]

  1. You will need to install libgpod and Amarok. Unfortunately, the version of libgpod in the stable repositories of Ubuntu, Debian, and Red Hat (v0.6.0) doesn’t support the newer (4G) Nanos. The only real consequence of this is a lack of per-track cover art (“Cover Flow” works fine), so you may be tempted to ignore it. Fortunately, it’s relatively easy to backport v0.7.0 to Intrepid. Unfortunately, you also need to rebuild Amarok/Rhythmbox/gtkpod/whatever against the new library (the Jaunty repo has the right version of libgpod, but not the rebuilt version of Amarok). Fortunately, I did this all for you, and you can grab a versions of libgpod and Amarok that support 4G Nanos on Intrepid from my PPA (click on “Follow these instructions” to add the PPA as an APT repository, or just download the .debs and use gdbi or dpkg).[UPDATE] Hardy packages are available here. Jaunty packages are here (Note: you have to use an unofficial Amarok 1.4 package, because Amarok 2.0 doesn’t support iPods at all (don’t ask)). The official Jaunty repos now have an updated version of gtkpod, but  not Rhythmbox AFAICT.  [/UPDATE]
  2. The iPod’s track database is encrypted, so you’ll have to help your computer decode it. Find its serial number using
    sudo lsusb -v | grep -i 'Serial.*[0-9A-Z]\{16\}'

    This will output something like

      iSerial                 3 000A27001DE47C90

    Copy-and-paste the 16 hex digits into /media/IPOD/iPod_Control/Device/SysInfo like so:

    FirewireGuid: 000A27001DE47C90

    (If your iPod isn’t mounted at /media/IPOD, use mount and look for an entry for /dev/sdb1, sdb2, or sdc1.)

  3. Now, you can go into “Settings -> Configure Amarok… -> Media Devices” and add your iPod. It should be automatically detected.
  4. If you click on “Devices” on the left-hand side of the Amarok window, you should see your iPod. Click on the iPod button and set your iPod model. Wikipedia has a handy illustrated table if you don’t happen to know which G your model belongs to (current on-sale models are the 6G Classic, 4G Nano, and 3G Shuffle).
  5. You can connect, you can sync (“Transfer”), and you can disconnect. You may have to fiddle with the “Post-disconnect command” in the “Media Device Configuration.” This one works for me:
    gnome-eject -n -p /media/IPOD

    If the iPod is still mounted after disconnection (i.e., the iPod screen still says “Connected”), you can use

    sudo eject /dev/sdb1

    (or sdc1, or whatever. You may accidentally eject a different USB device.)

[UPDATE 4/17/2009] I’m giving up on Amarok for managing my Nano: it stopped working with videos and I can’t figure out why.


This message brought to you by 30 Rock

Filed under: TV — Chris @ 12:29 pm

The Vulture worries over the integrity of televised comedy:

In last night’s 30 Rock — a show that, as our own Emily Nussbaum has already pointed out, has shown itself to be more than willing to work advertisers’ messages into its plotlines — Jack Donaghy and his spicy Latina lover, Elisa, not only found themselves effusively praising McFlurrys (“the world’s greatest dessert”), but the plot was also tailored in such a way that the two wound up spending their Valentine’s Day in an actual McDonald’s restaurant. So, the question is this: Did this seemingly blatant instance of product integration breach any sort of lines of television ethics?

Short answer: no. I hate commercials. I ruthlessly DVR, mute, and channel-flip them away. I install AdBlock Plus unbidden on the computers of my friends and family. But I’m having a hard time coming up with a reason why this business should upset me.

If 30 Rock were a news program, or even a satire, with a mission to “afflict the comfortable”, then I might give a shit. But it’s a sitcom and its only duty is to be funny. As it turns out, the McFlurry business was funny. I could see how that meta-joke (“isn’t it funny how we are talking like shills for this product when we are in fact characters who are not shills for a product played by actors who are in fact shills for a product, and we’re all so ambivalent about it?”) could grow old—and it’s hard to see how it could ever work on a lesser, less self-referential show, which is strange and ironic—but it’s working for me, for now.

Now, excuse me, I’m going to go buy a McFlurry (“the world’s greatest dessert”).

The (Still) Raw and the (Over)cooked

Filed under: Top Chef — Chris @ 12:29 am

I think the universe is trying to tell me something. Just when I had lost my faith in Leah’s ability to fail, she finally gets the ax. And to really add a special zest, she goes home the same week that Stefan screws up.

In the end, the judges had a choice between two travesties: (1) send home the most talented chef, who anyone can see stands head and shoulders above the remaining competitors, or (2) send home the chef who didn’t overcook her fish. Overcooking (aka “disrespecting”) a protein is a Top Chef cardinal sin, which ordinarily trumps any lapse of technique or seasoning. Not without reason: I’m sure I would take watery egg and a thin Hollandaise over medium-to-well-done salmon any day (but don’t go by me, I never order eggs Benedict). In this case, I can’t help but think the judges took past performance into account in sending home the weaker chef.

It’s also possible that Leah’s eggs were worse than they were portrayed in the broadcast. Something like this seems to have occurred with Jeff’s elimination over Fabio in the Super Bowl episode. It seemed as if Fabio’s overcooked venison was an open-and-shut eliminator. But the secondary sources say that Jeff’s ceviche dish was just really, really bad. I can certainly imagine Stefan’s spinach being tastier than any single thing on Leah’s plate (but again, don’t go by me, not an eggs Benedict guy).

You will. Respect. Your. Proteins.

You will. Respect. Your. Proteins.

Predictions: I’m going with Hosea or Fabio (or, if it’s a double elimination, Hosea and Fabio). Neither one has a chance in hell of winning. After a rough patch there around Restaurant Wars, Carla is firing on all pistons. I think she might have a shot at this thing.



Create a free website or blog at