View Full Version : How to install Rockbox custom OS on your iPod

Jun 18, 2012, 02:55 PM
Though I'd post instructions on how to install the Rockbox custom OS on your iPod. It supports Apple: iPod 1g through 5.5g, iPod Mini, iPod Nano 1g, and is unstable on iPod nano 2g. I'll run it on my 2g and get back to you about how it works. About Rockbox:

(Quote from here (http://www.rockbox.org/wiki/WhyRockbox))

Rockbox is an open source firmware replacement for a growing number of digital audio players. Rockbox aims to be considerably more functional and efficient than your device’s stock firmware while remaining easy to use and customisable. Rockbox is written by users, for users. Not only is it free to use, it is also released under the GNU General Public License (GPL), which means that it will always remain free both to use and to change.

Rockbox has been in development since 2001, and receives new features, tweaks and fixes each day to provide you with the best possible experience on your digital audio player. A major goal of Rockbox is to be simple and easy to use, yet remain very customisable and configurable. We believe that you should never need to go through a series of menus for an action you perform frequently. We also believe that you should be able to configure almost anything about Rockbox you could want, pertaining to functionality. Another top priority of Rockbox is audio playback quality – Rockbox, for most models, includes a wider range of sound settings than the device’s original firmware. A lot of work has been put into making Rockbox sound the best it can, and improvements are constantly being made. All models have access to a large number of plugins, including many games, applications, and graphical “demos”. You can load different configurations quickly for different purposes (e.g. a large font for in your car, different sound settings for at home). Rockbox features a very wide range of languages, and all supported models also have the ability to talk to you – menus can be voiced and filenames spelled out or spoken.

Before you install, you need to have a FAT32 (Windows formatted) iPod.

(Quote from here (http://download.rockbox.org/daily/manual/rockbox-ipodnano1g/rockbox-buildch2.html#x4-70002.1))

Rockbox only works on Ipods formatted with the FAT32 filesystem (i.e. Ipods initialised by Itunes for Windows). It does not work with the HFS+ filesystem (i.e. Ipods initialised by Itunes for the Mac)

So yes, unfortunently, you will have to use a Windows computer to format your iPod.

Instructions on how to format to FAT32 if you are on Mac or Linux:

(Quote from here (http://www.rockbox.org/wiki/IpodConversionToFAT32))

The easiest way to convert your iPod to FAT32 is to attach it to a Windows computer which has iTunes installed. When iTunes detects your ipod, it will offer to reformat it for you.

For iTunes 7.0.2 on Windows, the following will occur when you connect a Mac formatted iPod: A popup box stating "iTunes has detected a Macintosh-formatted iPod. You must restore this iPod before you can use it on Windows". Then in the iTunes window you'll have an option to 'Restore' the iPod. Follow the steps (iPod Software Update will be downloaded within iTunes if required). The iPod will be restored, and you'll get a window stating "Your iPod has been restored to factory settings, and is restarting. Please leave the iPod connected, and it will appear in the source list once it completes the restore process.".

You'll see a progress bar move along the iPod's screen. Once done, you'll be prompted within Windows to name the iPod and asked whether you want to automatically sync music (and possibly photos). Untick the automatic sync options and proceed. At this point you'll see your iPod connected in iTunes and the 'Format' will be 'Windows'. You'll then be able to eject the iPod.

You can then return to your Mac and install Rockbox and continue to use your iPod with iTunes on your Mac.

When your iPod is FAT32ed, download the Rockbox Installer (updated April 12, 2012)

Download Rockbox for:

OS X 10.4, 10.5, 10.6, (http://download.rockbox.org/rbutil/macosx/RockboxUtility-v1.2.14.dmg)

Windows 2000, XP, Vista, 7 (http://download.rockbox.org/rbutil/win32/RockboxUtility-v1.2.14.zip)

Linux 32 bit (http://download.rockbox.org/rbutil/linux/RockboxUtility-v1.2.14.tar.bz2) Linux 64 bit (http://download.rockbox.org/rbutil/linux/RockboxUtility-v1.2.14-64bit.tar.bz2)

Then install using the directions below:

(Quote from here (http://www.rockbox.org/wiki/GraphicalInstall))

First, start RockboxUtility. If you have never used it before you'll get a configuration error. This is normal as you haven't configured RockboxUtility for your player yet. If you haven't connected your player to the PC do this now. Make sure the player appears on the PC, on windows it needs to get a drive letter assigned. On linux and OS X make sure the player is mounted. If the Utility can't find the player is linux, try running it as root. If you have multiple players please disconnect all but the one you're trying to install.

Configuring RockboxUtility

The configuration window opens.
Press the "Autodetect" button to make Rockbox Utility try to detect your player. If a supported player is found you will get the mountpoint value (Windows: drive letter) set to the correct path (Windows: drive letter) and the detected player will be hilighted in the device selection dialog. Please do not select the player manually unless detecting your player doesn't work (in that case you'll get a dialog telling you so). Some players have similar model names but are in fact completely different hardware (for example, Ipod 2G vs. Ipod Nano 2G, or Sansa e200 vs. Sansa e200v2).
Note: when autodetection doesn't work make sure your player is connected properly and has a drive letter assigned. Also, make sure you have appropriate permissions to access the player. Ipod and Sansa players require you to have administrator permissions.

If you need to select your player manually (again, please try automatic detection first) you need to choose the correct mountpoint (Windows: drive letter) from the dropdown list and the correct player. The dropdown list will show additional information when expanded to help you to identify the correct player.

If you're behind a proxy you might need to change more settings using the "Proxy" tab. Also, you can configure other functionality now. As this isn't required for installation we don't cover this here.

When finished with configuration close the configuration dialog using the "Ok" button.

Main Window

The main window of RockboxUtility appears.
You can now choose from the tabs on the bottom which action you want to perform.

For a first install you most likely want to use one of the two buttons on the "Quick Start" tab. Make your choice between "Complete Install" and "Small Install" and press the button. You will get a notice that the installation methods from the "Quick Start" tab will install the latest release. Usually there are more current builds available. It is safe to install a release at first, if you want to update to a more current build later you need to use the installation button from the "Installation" tab. After confirming the message a progress dialog will appear. Now you just need to wait until all the parts are installed.

Note: The "Quick Start" installation method is only intended for a first time installation. You can update Rockbox separately later by using the "Installation" tab, updating the bootloader is rarely necessary (Note: not all players require a bootloader. If the Bootloader button in the Installation tab is greyed out you don't need to install a bootloader.)

When installation is finished the "Abort" button on the log window changes to "Ok".
Press "Ok" and the log window will close. Safely eject (windows) / unmount (linux / OS X) your player. Installation is now almost finished.

Finishing Installation

Important: after installation you need to reboot your player. Make sure you "safely ejected" your player using your PCs "safely eject" button (unmount on linux / OS X). After the bootloader has been installed you might get a dialog box telling you about additional steps you need to perform, it is important that you now do these steps as otherwise Rockbox won't boot. Please also refer to the Manual for details.


Congratulations, you've made it! Please check the Manual for further instructions, and before asking for help. You'll more likely get much better help if you search it first. Besides, Rockbox Utility can download and display the manual -- check the "Manual" tab.

Go here (http://www.rockbox.org/wiki/RockboxExtras) for everything you can now put on your iPod


If you have any questions check out the wiki (http://www.rockbox.org/wiki/WebHome) or the manuals (http://www.rockbox.org/manual.shtml) or PM me, quote me, or email me at ijoecoles@gmail.com and I will try to help.

Remember, I take no responsibility for any damage to your iPod following this tutorial!