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 to mount your iPhone (and iPad) 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 iOS devices.
This is important, especially due to Apple’s security measures. Libimobiledevice lets you access system information for your device as well as 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. Open a terminal window and type:
sudo apt install libimobiledevice6 libimobiledevice-utils
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:
usbmuxd -f -v
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 an iPhone and access its file system in Linux. 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:
sudo apt install ifuse
This will install iFuse and any additional packages it may 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:
sudo mkdir /media/iphone ifuse /media/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 iPhone as an external drive.
If you mounted your device manually and want to safely unmount it, open your terminal again and type:
ifuse -u /media/iphone
This will safely unmount your iPhone storage. Once done, you can then unplug it from your Ubuntu PC or laptop.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Do I need to jailbreak my iPhone to mount it in Ubuntu?
No. This should work on your iPhone either way. Jailbreaking your device does void the warranty. However, you’re free to jailbreak it if you want more control over the device. The method above doesn’t require it though.
2. Which iOS versions does libimobiledevice support?
The great thing about libimobiledevice is it’s designed to be compatible with 1.x series devices through current devices. Even if a new iOS version is released, everything should still work correctly.
3. My iPhone just upgraded to a new iOS version. Why isn’t libimobiledevice working?
New firmware releases have been known to cause rare glitches. These are typically addressed by the community to provide a more stable release of libimobiledevice. Check to see whether there is a new version available. It may take a few weeks after an iOS release for all glitches to be addressed.
4. Does this allow me to sync my music?
Currently, music sync isn’t supported on newer iPhones. However, some community members are working on allowing seamless music syncing. You’ll need to use alternative methods, such as VirtualBox, for this to work at the moment.
5. Will this hurt apps installed on my device?
No. The only issue you may face is running out of storage. If you’re an app collector, you may need to remove apps in order to make room for your Linux files. Pay close attention to your remaining storage capacity to ensure you always have room for the apps you want along with necessary updates.
6.Why isn’t anything working?
It’s possible that the process didn’t quite work correctly. To ensure your device is recognized, open a terminal and run:
As long as you see details about your device, Linux does recognize your iPhone. If you don’t get any details, try the process again. As simple as it sounds, restarting Linux may also help.
7. Is it worth using my iPhone as an external device for extra storage?
Ideally, you’d want to use your iPhone for emergency storage or just transferring files. Since this isn’t the simplest process, you may want to consider using a different type of device, such as USB or external hard drives. You could even use cloud storage.
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. Or, if you just have an older iPhone you’re not using, this is a great way to recycle it.
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.
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