Rockbox on my IPod (30GB)

In this post I am going to share my experience with the Rockbox application which I installed on my Apple IPod 30 GB (5th Generation). First I will explain the features that I liked and at the end I will explain the steps related to installation and some other techniques.

First of all, Rockbox is a firmware written from scratch to run on different media players. As you know that most of the media players have a lot of limitations, like
  • Their own proprietary softwares to add/delete files or
  • Only some file formats are supported, to support other formats we need to buy plugins
  • Some times Sync ing is a big problem
  • Because of proprietary nature, we are unable to customize our gadgets according to our taste
  • Freely available applications are very limited etc.
I will address how Rockbox overcomes all these limitations.

Positive features:

Recently Rockbox had given a nice interface to install the application on your gadgets, previously they used to have a very vague procedure to install. This actually simplifies the most difficult part (you won't believe me, that most of us won't try a lot of good stuff because of the difficulties in the installation procedure).
Note: Most important thing here is that, unlike the most proprietary softwares which before installing on the target gadget deletes all the content, this installation actually keeps all your data including your IPod firmware which came along with the IPod. (Here it copies the behavior of Linux)

After the installation is successful (obvious), the IPod boots with the Rockbox firmware, this is the first step where one sees the beautiful skins for your IPod (I know most of you were fed up with the default skin that comes with your ipod, white background with black text). Initially the fonts were very little but it gives you the option to select different fonts with different sizes. This actually allows one to customize their IPod according to their taste. First step in overcoming the limitations put by the vendors, after all the gadget was bought by us we should able to do what we want without any limitations.

Most important feature in Rockbox is it allows you to drag and drop the files like audio and photos etc. into your IPod, which lacks in the software provided by the Apple (iTunes). So one doesn't need itunes to present on each and every machine that he/she is going to connect. This gives one complete freedom in using their gadget.

Want to have best audio player, then........

The inbuilt audio player gives best quality while playing the audio files, along with this it gives some options to select your theme (Rock, Jazz or classic etc.), and gives some more options to equalize the output (i.e. how much boost has to be given for different frequencies can be selected). In terms of audio player Rockbox gives complete control to the user, which never was with Apple's firmware.

Fed up with IPod typical white background and fonts, then .....

Themes come along with the Rockbox (you can select them at the time of installation) are the real added advantage for your gadget. The customization of the themes or skins for the audio player gives you a feel that you can really control the gadget that you bought without any restrictions. With these themes you can show how cool you are....

Want to play games or work with lot of applications while listening to music, then .........

My IPod came with three typical games, which never played. I couldn't get any website which gives free games to install on it. In Rockbox you will get a lot of games (snake, pingpong, Rockbox etc.) and some 3D games like RockDoom ( figuring out the controls is the only glitch). This is an added advantage for your gadget.


Enough, explained a lot about good points, lets go to the real limiting factor for this application.

MPEG Player sucks.......

The biggest disadvantage that I found in Rockbox is the video player. They are using MPEG player designed to run on small gadgets which really sucks. It takes only mpg or mpeg file extensions (MPEG-1 and MPEG-2 encoding). It gives you very poor frame rate with default settings. I tried to find the settings to customize it but I couldn't. Even this player can't play the mp4 files that typical IPod firmware plays. If they can fix this problem then Rockbox will be the best firmware available for the IPod.

Controls are not unique......

For some applications the IPod Menu  key option works as default back, but for some other applications combination of Menu and the center key works as back button and for some applications I couldn't find this one (I reseted the IPod to come out of the application).
For some menu  pages the IPod Menu key works as the key to take to the main menu page where as for some pages it works as the default back button. This really irritates the user.

If they can maintain the consistency in the key combination that gives the best first impression to a normal user.


Overall the performance (except Video) of the application is really good. In some posts I read that Rockbox really gives better battery performance (does anybody dare to loose it).
Themes, customization of audio player, zooming feature while viewing the images, games, applications, better battery performance are real cool things which you get for free.

One liner....
If you don't use your IPod for watching videos, then nothing suits like Rockbox to your IPod. Don't trust me..... try it for yourself........

Note: Rockbox never ever destroys your IPod, this comes from the trust in Open Source.


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