Use an iPod with Linux

Q I've just bought an iPod nano and seem to be having some problems with it using Linux. Every time I try to put music on it, it goes wrong. Banshee and Gtkpod fill all the space up on my iPod without putting anything on it and it doesn't mount in Amarok. This is very frustrating, as I have to put all my songs on my iPod using the family computer, which runs Windows. My computer is running Ubuntu 7.10.

A There are several options for transferring music between a Linux system and an iPod. Banshee and Amarok both include the functions within a media player, and Gtkpod is a dedicated program for the job. There are ways to integrate it with other software, such as the fusepod Fuse filesystem to mount an iPod and the Kpod KIO slave for KDE. Although it's possible to mount the iPod as a USB mass storage device, simply copying files to the device does nothing but fill it up. You have to use a suitable tool to manage the music on Apple's devices. The simplest is probably Gtkpod. Start the program and go to Edit > Edit Repository/iPod Options. Set the mount point to wherever your iPod is automounted and select the correct model number. You can find the model number on the device, on the first line of the file iPod_Control/Device SysInfo.

Now you can add your music collection to Gtkpod and copy tracks to the iPod by dragging them from the local window on to the iPod's entry in the left-hand pane. You must then click Save Changes to write the files to the iPod and, importantly, update the iPod's database. The procedure is similar with Amarok. First, tell it about your device in the main configuration windows, then go to the devices tab in the main window and click on the iPod icon above it to set the correct model. Now, you can drag tracks or entire playlists to your iPod. They will appear in the Transfer pane at the bottom-left of the window, until you press the Transfer button.

This step is necessary to copy the tracks and update the database. It's likely to be the lack of database update that's causing your problems, and this can be caused by setting the wrong iPod model. Or you may prefer Banshee, which can also copy to iPods. This is the easiest of the lot to set up. Just tell it where your music files live, plug in the iPod and drag tracks from the library. To copy the files and update the iPod's database, right-click on the iPod's name in the left-hand pane and select Synchronise iPod and Save Manual Changes to copy over the files you dropped on the device.

Alternatively, use the Synchronise Library option to copy your collection to the iPod. To access the device directly, there's a Fuse filesystem for iPods available from and a KDE KIO slave from With the latter, you type ipod:/ in Konqueror's location bar to access the iPod directly, and copy files by dropping them on the Transfer folder. Then go into the Utilities folder and run Synchronise to write the changes.

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