Untether your iPod from iTunes With Rockbox

When you buy electronics, many times you fall prey to the marketing hype. Other times you have a real need and desire for the features of a particular device. Even then, those needs may shift over time.

I am a big fan of Apple products. I over time have accumulated a couple of iPods, laptops and other Apple accessories. These days I don’t use iTunes all that much though. The only reason I was using it was to rotate music on my old 20GB iPod.

Since I didn’t really need iTunes for much, I thought I would experiment a little. I chose a program called Rockbox to replace the software on my iPod. Let me tell you, it is super easy to install and works really well.

What you will need:

An iPod that is on their list of supported devices; the list is right on the front page of their site.

Here are the iPods:

Apple: iPod 1g through 5.5g, iPod Mini and iPod Nano 1g.

(The iPod needs to be formatted for Windows to work. If it was formatted for a Mac, you will need to do a restore on a Windows machine for Rockbox to be installed.)

You will also need to download the installer software. You can get it right on top of their main page or click here.

When it downloads, you will end up with a small utility file. This is what will run and manage the software on the iPod.

The installation

The process of installing the software onto the iPod is really quick and painless. Start by plugging in your iPod to your computer with the USB to dock connector that came with your iPod. If you have iTunes installed on your computer, it may automatically open up. If this happens, just close it and continue with the installation.

1. When you have the iPod plugged in, open the Rockbox utility. You will need to click on Complete Installation. This will put the software and some extras on the iPod.

rockbox-new-install

2. Click on Autodetect. If you prefer, you can select your device from the list of compatible devices above.

rockbox-select-device

3. Confirm the installation.

rockbox-confirm

4. The most current bootloader files will get downloaded from the site and put on your device.

rockbox-bootloader

5. You can choose the theme for your “Now Playing” background. As you can see, you have a lot to choose from.

rockbox-theme

6. You are also given the option to add different fonts and games. I didn’t opt for any of these.

rockbox-extras

Putting music on your iPod

After you have the installation complete, you need something to listen to. The easiest way to get music on the newly converted device is to drag and drop it onto the device hard drive. You can create a music folder to drag and drop all of your album folders into to keep things a bit more organized.

When you have some songs transfered, eject the iPod and give it a whirl.

Usage

While the Apple software is smoother to use, Rockbox has all of the needed functions to listen to music on your iPod. You can create playlists, random through all of your songs and many other cool little tidbits.
What I have noticed is, you will need to tweak the fonts, theme and other settings to make things a bit more user friendly. It is super easy and laid out in an easy to figure out way.

If you save your music in a format other than what iTunes supports, this is a great option for you too. Here is a list of the formats Rockbox supports.

Conclusion

Overall, I have to say Rockbox is a good alternative jukebox software for the person who may have a mp3 player, but is unhappy with being forced to use a specific software to manage the music.

What other software can you use to replace iTunes on an iPod?