Using your iPod on Linux

The fear of “messing up” your iPod is enough to deter some users from using their iPod in Linux. On the contrary, you can use your iPod in Linux easily and without fear of “screwing anything up.” The following is a tutorial for beginners that are considering using their iPod with Linux.

The first step is to install gtkpod. Open a terminal and type the following command:
sudo apt-get install gtkpod

Update: this install command is native to Ubuntu. Go to the gtkpod homepage and install the package that is appropriate for your system if the above command does not work.

The second step is to connect your iPod (if Rhythmbox opens automatically close it). Your iPod should automatically be detected (similar to the way it would be in Windows). The quick way to make sure your iPod is mounted correctly is to go to Computer in GNOME and make sure your iPod shows up. This is shown below:
iPod in Linux image

The third step is to launch gtkpod. When you launch, select iPod on the left and click the Read button (top left). You should now see a list of all the songs on your iPod (or none if the iPod is new). This is shown below:
iPod Linux Image 1

If you would like to add any songs to your iPod, make sure the iPod is still selected in the pane on the left and go to File >> Add Files

The last step is to select the Sync button at the top right of the screen. After you sync your iPod it will be ready for use.
iPod Linux Image 2

Note: If you did not read the contents of the iPod you will get the following message after selecting Sync (shown below), “You did not import the existing iTunesDB. This is most likely incorrect and will result in the loss of the existing database.” Do not press OK unless it is the first time you are putting songs onto your iPod otherwise your iTunesDB file will be deleted.
iPod warning message image
If your iTunesDB file does get deleted, don’t worry there is an easy fix. Close and re-open gtkpod, select your iPod in the navigation pane on the left-hand side and choose File >> Export Tracks from Database >> Selected Tab Entry. Depending on how many songs are on your iPod this may take awhile and you will get an orphaned warning for every song (shown below). Don’t worry, it’s okay.
iPod orphaned warning image

After your iPod has been scanned, choose Synchronize iTunesDB and select OK to the warning that comes up and your iTunesDB file will be restored.

Trackbacks & Pings


  1. I too found it rather easy too to hook my iPod up to Linux, yet through gnupod (for me the easiest way).

    After that, however, you also might want to do more, like putting your calendar on the iPod too :-)

  2. Nicely done how-to,
    I believe you may want to re-title the article “Using your iPod on Ubuntu”

  3. Sure, music is easy, but what about videos? What if you’ve bought games from the iTunes Store? No one talks about using Linux with those. Will it corrupt them?

  4. I use Floola on Ubuntu for music and movies and GPixPod for pics on the ipod.

  5. A very superficial article. Does nothing to mention any common problems, the most obvious of which is the iPod incorrectly reporting disk size which can cause it to be unmountable in Linux without a kernel recompile.

    Hardly worth spending the time it took to write, to be honest.

  6. @Dean: As the article mentions, the intended audience is the Linux beginner. You make an excellent point, but I wanted to show beginners that in most cases it is possible and easy to use an iPod in Linux.

  7. I have been so wanting to switch to Linux but my biggest concern is still getting podcasts on my iPod. iTunes still does things that these programs do not.

  8. KDE users might want to check out Amarok instead of gtkpod. I tried both, and I found that Amarok worked better with my new iPod Nano than gtkpod. Under gtkpod all of my albums showed up under podcasts in my iPod. by contrast, Amarok built my iTunes database correctly. However, I had to download the latest and greatest Amarok from the guru archives via smart to get it recognize my model of iPod. With a little bit of configuration, I even managed to get Amarok to mount and unmount my iPod via the connect and disconnect buttons. BTW, I use KAudioCreator and lame to rip/encode my CDs. This was all on OpenSuSE 10.1. Of course YMMV.

  9. Quite the Bait and Switch…
    I thought this article was to get Linux onto your ipod… Maybe I am just slow and/or retarded.

  10. I have some question to ask here.

    does using amarok or gtkpod convert your mp3’s to ipod’s wma format ?

  11. @wawa: the iPod supports MP3 and AAC (and according to a reader on Digg, WAV). The iPod does not support wma, and neither amarok nor gtkpod will convert your mp3s to any other format.


  13. It seems music is easy but what if I bought games from the iTunes Store? No one talks about using Linux with those. Will it corrupt them or is their still a special technique? Anyway good job, very useful.

  14. GTKpod is nice enough but like somebody already remarked take the latest Amarok out for a spin. It rocks the pants off of both GTKpod and iTunes.

    For the guy asking about WMA; if you are using linux you could install mplayer/mencoder and then convert all those crappy WMAs and AACs and whatnot to whatever you want. There are plenty conversion frontends out there or if you are feeling adventurous do a google for ‘mencoder WMA commandline’ or something along those lines.

  15. i have gtkpod and have used it recently but for simplicity sake, under kde, i just plug in my ipod, open konqueror, drag my new mp3’s to the transfer dir, and click sync. it’s that easy.

  16. Ditto the props for Amarok. Amarok is an awesome product, and does an awesome job with personal mp3 players. I use it for my iPod Nano, and the old iPod Shuffle that the Nano replaced, without incident.

    Using Amarok is worthwhile just for Amarok’s podcast support.

  17. If you want a crontab based solution to this problem look at Perlpod at, it uses gnupod for actually putting the podcasts onto the IPOD but it also handles keeping upto date with multiple RSS feeds of podcasts and then synchrosing them to your ipod once it’s mounted.

  18. I’m using gtkpod for my nano and Ubuntu. It does work well but I think I’ve noticed a pattern in that I need to reboot my nano after having it plugged into the computer.

    Is anyone else having this problem?

  19. does ipod linux work on the new ipod nano

  20. Anyone know if it is possible to get Amarok to convert wma files to mp3, instead of the annoying: “files not playable on ipod device” message.

    Any ideas? Blast me an email.


  21. I have a 4G nano which was set up under Windows. Having accidentally reformatted the hard drive iTunes is now empty, though the ipod is fine.
    I want to use gtkpod but when I plug the ipod in with a usb cable I can’t get it to mount (?).
    Having little experience of Linux-based systems I have had a look on a large number of forums but can’t find the help I need. I can use the command line but that’s about it.
    Can anybody help, as I really need to impress my girl friend.


  22. Thanks,

    linked —

  23. Hi
    I have a big problem, I recently plugged in a friends ipod into my computer – i have a lynux ubuntu program. It told me the files we’re compromised and that it needed to reformat. My roommate got involved and before i have the chance to do anything it reformatted the ipod. now, is there any way, at all to get all that music back?
    Please please please help

  24. I was able to correctly reformat my 4G Nano, and even put tracks on it in gtkpod, but when I try to sync/save my progress, I get an error message saying I need the firewire ID. I’m not sure what that means, but I have neither a firewire cable nor a place to plug it in on my computer… Anyone know what to do?

  25. The gtkpod instructions talk about getting your firewire ID either automatically or manually. Here’s the page:

    Search for firewire id on the above page and you’ll see a series of things you’ll need to do to get gtkpod to recognize your ipod.

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