Archive for the 'iPod' Category

Rockbox Testing

Svibanj 14, 2006

So, I finally got around to test the alternative iPod (and other MP3 player) firmware I was writing about a few times – Rockbox.

The installation is a breeze – just follow the instructions carefully. I tried it on both Windows 2000 and Ubuntu GNU/Linux and it simply worked. After you install the bootloader, you have to copy the software itself to your iPod. It's just copy/paste, so it's probably the easiest part of the installation. You have a selection of daily builds and CVS builds – I recommend the CVS builds. After that, you restart your iPod and it boots itself into Rockbox. 

If you're lucky, that is. Rockbox (for iPod, at least) is still in its early stages of development – it is buggy and crashes often. The CVS releases of the software from the last couple of days were so buggy I couldn't really use them – Rockbox wouldn't boot, or would just freeze while playing a song or using a plug-in. The most recent CVS release I downloaded today is better. Much better, I'd have to say. For now, Rockbox boots each and every time I start it, and it doesn't freeze that much on song playback. It's usable, so if you try to load Rockbox on your iPod, I recommend the latest CVS release of the Rockbox software.

My impressions are, for now, great. It allows me to just copy & paste the songs to my iPod and play them immediately. I missed that option most on my iPod and I'm glad someone decided to do something about it. As far as I can see, the sound volume in Rockbox is much higher than in the original firmware. That's probably OK for some users,  but I don't like my music too loud anyways. The plug-ins are also interesting – most of them are still in their early stages, but some of the games are addictive :). I still haven't tested the OGG playback, but I'll do it through the day.

The nice thing about Rockbox is that it allows you to boot into the default Apple firmware without much hassle – just hold "menu" during the start-up. That's a nice feature for everyone who wants to try Rockbox, but isn't really sure if it really suits his / her needs. 

All in all – in spite being a bit buggy, Rockbox is (in its most recent CVS version, at least) usable and interesting firmware for MP3 players. With a bit of bug-fixing, it'll make my iPod everything I ever wanted it to be – a bug-free music player with drag'n'drop support, many playback formats and a great interface. Bye-bye Apple firmware! :)

Oglasi

Rockbox for iPod Mini 1G

Svibanj 1, 2006

It seems that the iPod Mini 1G version of the Rockbox alternative firmware has been released. I don't have my iPod at hand currently, but I'll try it out ASAP and let you know how it works. I just hope the results will be better than on iPodLinux :-).

SciTE + UTF-8 / iPodLinux

Travanj 17, 2006

One of my favorite source code editors under both Linux and Windows is definitely SciTE. It's a small, compact text editor built to demonstrate the powers of Scintilla, a source code editing component for Windows and GTK+, but it soon grew to be a useful editor.

I use it almost exclusively (although I get some of the work done in Dreamweaver when I'm at work), but one thing bothered me – I couldn't make the UTF-8 support with the Croatian diacritic letters, like č, ć etc., to work correctly on Linux. The SciTE manual helps, but isn't very clear on this subject, so here's a way to enable that… Copy these lines and insert them into your SciTEUser.properties file (go to Options -> Open User Options File or manually edit / create the file ~/.SciTEUser.properties):

code.page=0
character.set=238
LC_CTYPE=hr_HR.UTF-8

That's about it. You can find other character set numbers on the SciTE documentation page.

I also found some time to try to install iPodLinux to my 1st generation iPod mini, and it wasn't successful at all. I tried to install the app both from Linux and Windows following the instructions on their website, but after the installation, the iPod just wouldn't boot – it showed some error icon on the screen with the Apple iPod support page URL written underneath.

I managed to bring it back to life using Dark and Mysterious Ways – by formatting it with the HP USB format utility (to FAT, not FAT32!), reinstalling the iPod software from the iPod CD, formatting it again when / if prompted by the iPod installation and restoring the old iPod firmware version (the one I got on the CD, from 2004 :)). Only then would my iPod finally boot – then I installed the latest version of iTunes and updated the firmware to the latest version. Simple firmware restore using the latest version of the firmware wouldn't work.

After the iPL installation failed for the second time (even from Windows), I decided it ain't worth the hassle of taking the above steps every time, so I gave up for now. I can't wait for the release of Rockbox software for the Mini 1G, but I hope it will work better than iPL.

Alternative iPod Firmware

Travanj 15, 2006

As an owner of a 4GB iPod mini (1st generation), I'm not happy with the software I have to use to upload music to the drive. It's not that I don't like iTunes, but I don't like the idea of being limited to one app (and one operating system) to be able to put some music on my portable music player. It would be way much better if I could just drag'n'drop the music to the player from Nautilus / Windows Explorer / whatever. I'm aware of gtkpod, but I my experience with the app isn't really good, and it still doesn't allow greater portability and drag'n'drop support.

In the last couple of weeks, I found two alternatives to the default iPod firmware – iPodLinux and Rockbox, the latter being more interesting to me than iPL. iPodLinux is an attempt in porting an alternative Linux kernel (uClinux) to the iPod with loads of apps available, while Rockbox is an alternative firmware for many different MP3 players (like iRiver, iPod, iAudio etc.). I really didn't have the time to play around with iPodLinux (I may find some time next week, and I'll post the impressions), but Rockbox really got my attention because it allows simple drag'n'drop song upload.

Unfortunately, Rockbox isn't yet available for my 1st generation iPod mini (they're working on it! :)), but it's available for a range of newer generation iPods and other MP3 players, so you might want to try it out. If anyone has any other suggestions, feel free to e-mail me (you have my e-mail address on the About page) or leave a comment. I'll be glad to try it out.

Happy Easter to everyone! :)