Linux Software for iTunes (iPod classic / iPod Touch / iPhone)

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I cannot install Apple iTunes software to manage music for my Apple iPod. How do I manage iPod under Ubuntu Linux? What’s the best way to manage my iPod without Apple iTunes software?

iTunes is a free application for Mac and Windows PC. It plays all your digital music and video. However, you can use your iPod under Ubuntu and other Linux distribution. iPod has a file system and you can mount iPod under Linux.


Run iTune Under Linux

You can install iTune application using any one of the following software:

  • Virtualbox (free version but proprietary and MS-Windows required) : You can sync using the official iTunes application. Virtualbox is an x86 virtualization software. You also need to install Windows XP or Vista. The full VirtualBox package comes under a proprietary Personal Use and Evaluation License (PUEL), which allows using the software free of charge for personal and educational use and evaluation of the product. Licenses for commercial deployment of the full VirtualBox package can be purchased from Sun. See using iTunes via Sun Virtualbox running Windows tutorial.
  • Vmware workstation (proprietary and MS-Windows required) : Vmware workstation is just like Virtualbox software. It is a proprietary software. You also need to install and agree Windows XP / Vista license.

Recommend iTunes Alternatives for iPOD

  1. gtkpod is a platform independent Graphical User Interface for Apple’s iPod using GTK2. It supports the first to fifth Generation including the iPod mini, iPod Photo, iPod Shuffle, iPod nano, and iPod Video etc.
  2. Amarok – Supports synchronizing, retrieving, playing, or uploading music to the iPod. Amarok is a music player and organizer.
  3. Banshee – Allows the transferring of songs, videos, and album art to and from the iPod.
  4. Songbird – iPod device support via community extension. It is a great music organization tool with a variety of extensions.

However, there is no alternative to iTunes when it comes to syncing with an iPod Touch or iPhone with Firmware 3.0. I recommend either Amarok or Banshee.


Posted by: Vivek Gite

The author is the creator of nixCraft and a seasoned sysadmin, DevOps engineer, and a trainer for the Linux operating system/Unix shell scripting. Get the latest tutorials on SysAdmin, Linux/Unix and open source topics via RSS/XML feed or weekly email newsletter.

16 comment

  1. What is the best iTunes alternative application for ipod classic 6G. I tried gtkpod. It worked but only for music and mp3 files. gtkpod doesn’t support uploading and downloading video files like mp4 to ipod classic 6G.

    Rhythmbox has also some problems with uploading mp3 files to ipod classic 6G. Some of the mp3 files uploaded by Rhythmbox are not playable on the ipod.

  2. BTW,
    I have tried songbrid, and it doesn’t really sync your stuff.
    Mostly, it will screw it up.
    To restore/install firmware for regular the regular ipod. dd your ipod 1st time you run it, and restore it when you need to do it.

  3. The problem with iTunes alternatives is the uploading, syncing of songs and videos…
    noting compares to the iTunes, So I just installed VMware server then Windows XP, then the latest iTunes, edit my /etc/fstab to recognize the mounted iPod inside my virtual machine

    usbfs /proc/bus/usb usbfs auto 0 0
    none /proc/bus/usb usbfs devgid=46,devmode=664 0 0

    that’s it..

    – Karl Arao

  4. I have an iPod Touch. Alternatives to iTunes CANNOT be used without ‘jailbreaking’ the device. This voids the warranty. That is of little concern except that the ONLY way to upgrade the firmware is through iTunes. iTunes is not a user friendly program, and it continues to have major bugs. iTunes does not have a Linux version, and for this reason only, I keep a small Windows XP partition on my hard drive. VirtualBox (running Windows XP) will run iTunes but iTunes will not recognize the Touch. A virtual machine does not solve the problem.

    Some solutions do exist for transferring files to the iPod devices. Music can be played and eBooks can be read. However, firmware updates remain a problem.

    1. Hi Don, I use virtualbox running XP and sync fine on 2 iphones, 1 nano and a Classic 30GB. I just make sure that USB 2.0 is enabled in the settings of the Vm, then

      1. Plug in the ipod
      2. Unmount in Linux OS
      3 Click on the Devices drop down list in the top left of the XP window and enable your touch.

      Good luck, Jeremy.

  5. @Don Birdsall

    If you use the proprietry version of virtualbox from suns site you can enable USB support and use the touch with itunes that way.

  6. You can now sync your iPod touch/iPhone with Ubuntu. There is an increasing number of tutorials that show you just how to do it. Also, Ubuntu 10.04 will support iPhone syncing out of the box. It’s not flawless and there is space for improvement, but we will finally be free of the mac/windows or jailbreaking or whatever…

  7. banshee is not working. at all. tried everything. it says its copied the music but it’s not in any folder. it’s bull..

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