Using an iPhone as an external Ubuntu drive used to be tricky. Linux support for iOS devices like the iPhone, iPad, and iPod used to be pretty poor, but that situation has changed.
Here’s how you can mount your iPhone storage on Ubuntu and other Linux distributions using the libimobiledevice library.
For iPhone and other iOS devices to be recognized on Ubuntu, you’ll need to install the libimobiledevice library first. This allows Ubuntu and other Linux operating systems to interact with these Apple devices.
This is important, especially due to Apple’s security measures. Libimobiledevice lets you access system information for your device as well as access the internal storage. The libimobiledevice website has a list of currently-included features as well as features planned for the future.
If you want to use your iPhone as an external drive, you’ll need to install libimobildevice first.
You don’t need to add any additional package repositories to install libimobiledevice, so open a terminal window and type:
Once libimobiledevice has installed, try to connect your iPhone. If your iPhone file system doesn’t mount automatically when connected, you may need to pair your iPhone. Open a terminal and type:
A success message should appear after running this. Then, run the following:
This allows for multiple connections between your iPhone and your Ubuntu installation.
After running all of these commands, if you still can’t connect to your iPhone, you’ll need to install and use a second package called iFuse to mount your iPhone manually.
The iFuse package allows you to mount and access the file system on iOS devices. It’s likely that iFuse will install itself along with libimobiledevice, but if it hasn’t, you’ll need to install it manually.
Like libimobiledevice, you should find iFuse in the usual Ubuntu package repositories.
To install it, open your terminal and type:
This will install iFuse and any additional packages it might need on your Ubuntu installation.
Accessing Your iPhone Storage
If you have Ubuntu with the GNOME desktop environment, then your iPhone file system should mount automatically once you plug it in. Reboot your PC if, in the first instance, your device doesn’t mount automatically. You should also unlock your iPhone device screen. If you don’t, you won’t be able to access the internal storage.
If that doesn’t work, you may need to mount your iPhone manually. You may also need to do this if you don’t use the standard Ubuntu installation with GNOME.
First, pair your iPhone by opening a Linux terminal and typing:
You should see a success message appear after running this command, or
idevicepair will inform you it can’t find your iOS device.
If that’s the case, restart and try it again. Once your device is paired, type the following to mount your iPhone:
Replace the “/media/iphone” directory with another directory of your choice. This is where your iPhone files and folders will be seen on your device.
Once mounted, you should then be able to see your iPhone file system in your chosen file manager. You can then remove or add files to the device to treat it as your own external drive.
If you mounted your device manually and want to safely unmount it, open your terminal again and type:
This will safely unmount your iPhone storage. Once done, you can then unplug it from your Ubuntu PC or laptop.
Using Your iPhone for Storage on Linux
With storage capacity from 16GB to 512GB, the iPhone makes for a good external drive for your Linux PC. If you’re not filling your device with apps, photos, and videos, it makes sense to put the excess storage to good use.
If you’re running out of space, you may need to look at freeing up storage on your iPhone first. You might find it easier to use an Android device for your external storage, however.