MP3 Players with Linux and/or Win98SE
March 4, 2005 7:24 AM   Subscribe

My elderly PC boots up into either Win98SE or (preferably) Linux. I'm thinking of buying an MP3 player, such as the 20GB Rio Karma or Archos GMini XS200. I've just sent off for a USB2.0 controller card, as it seems this is the interface of choice for peripherals these days. Will I have any issues seeing the MP3 player? Will it show up as a removeable drive, or will I have to install extra software? Do I need to check which MP3 players are compatible with linux?
posted by salmacis to Computers & Internet (14 answers total)
I have a Karma. It requires software to load songs onto it. There's a standalone Windows program that works over USB2.0 and Ethernet. It also has a web interface you can get to over the Ethernet to get a Java program to load the songs with. There's also a command-line program called libkarma that you can use to load songs onto it. It's what I use to load up my Karma from my Linux media server. As far as I know, the Archos is just a USB mass storage device that shows up as a drive you can put files on, from any operating system.
posted by zsazsa at 7:42 AM on March 4, 2005

The iRiver players are very nice. They appear to the computer as an extra drive, so you can copy any sort of files you like with ease, regardless of which OS you use. They play Ogg Vorbis files as well as MP3s, too.
posted by Nick Jordan at 8:25 AM on March 4, 2005

What you need is any MP3 player that operates as a "USB Mass Storage Device". In theory, these are compatible with any operating system that accepts such devices, including Win98se and Linux.

That said, I have a Creative Muvo Slim, which is a usb mass storage device, and Linux refuses to load items onto it. But that may just be a Linux thing.

I'd recommend the Archos if what zsazsa says is correct.
posted by selfnoise at 8:27 AM on March 4, 2005

I have the Archos Gmini 400 and yep, it's just a big ol' hard drive as far as Windows is concerned. This is XP, I assume it'll work the same under '98.
posted by punilux at 8:31 AM on March 4, 2005

I've also heard good thing about the iRiver devices playing well with Linux.

For Creative (and Dell) products, the Gnomad2 project seems promising, though I haven't used it myself.
posted by kables at 8:38 AM on March 4, 2005

One more datapoint - Most of the older archos players can be moved to Rockbox open source firmware, which is supposed to be miles better. They are working on porting it to the GMini series and IRiver models as well. For older archos models, Jukebox Recorder 20 & FM Recorder are both USB 2.0, while Studio 5/6/10/15/20 aren't. All show up as removable drives, but only support mp3 (I think). Newer archos models should all support USB 2.0 and read as removable drives.
posted by true at 8:56 AM on March 4, 2005

I just got an iAudio M3 (hasn't arrived yet). It, too, is just a big ol' USB mass storage device.
posted by kenko at 9:02 AM on March 4, 2005

A followup to zsazsa: I, too, have a Karma. I use it with WinXP, but apparently the Java-based Rio Music Manager Lite is Linux-compatible. It's available from Rio, or you can get public betas from here.

The main point of my followup is to point you to, an entensive community site for Rio products with a focus on the Karma. I'm sure any Linux/Karma related questions have been answered over there.
posted by flipper at 9:12 AM on March 4, 2005

I would strongly recommend the Archos GMini XS200 for Linux. I have one, and it was trivially easy to get it working with Linux. It shows up as a plain ol' USB hard drive, so all you need to do is add USB Mass Storage support in your kernel, if you don't already have it. Then just add a line to your /etc/fstab file. Here's the line I have for the Gmini in my own /etc/fstab:
/dev/sda1    /mnt/usbhd       vfat        noauto,user   0 0
If you have any SCSI devices, the Gmini might not be connected as /dev/sda1. If you type "cat /proc/scsi/scsi" while the Gmini is turned on and connected to the USB cable, it should display the device number for the Gmini. Substitute that for the 1 in "/dev/sda1" above.

Once you're finished with those two steps, you can mount the Gmini hard drive by typing "mount /dev/sda1" (or whatever device number you got from /proc/scsi/scsi above) when you want to connect to it, just like any other hard drive on your system. If you used the example line above, the Gmini's files will show up under /mnt/usbhd. When you're finished, be sure to type "umount /dev/sda1" before you disconnect or turn off the Gmini. One nice thing about the Gmini is that you can put any kind of files on it - it is essentially a 20G portable hard drive that happens to play music. I think that the Karma limits you to storing music files only.
posted by vorfeed at 10:25 AM on March 4, 2005

vorfeed, you can put any kind of file on the Karma, but you have to get them on/off with "Rio Taxi". libkarma can also put files onto the device. Anyway, if you don't care about gapless (I do), the iRiver will be easier to use and is probably smaller.
posted by zsazsa at 11:19 AM on March 4, 2005

ah, OK, I didn't know that. I tried checking at the Rio site, but they don't seem to mention it in the specs (whereas Archos made a big deal of it). I'll amend my previous comment to say that the nice thing with the Archos is that you can use it as a 20G portable drive that connects to almost any computer. if the Karma needs special software to drop files to it, you can't just go over to a friend's house and bring their whole mp3 collection home with you, like you can with the Archos.

As for size, the iRiver is 4 x 2.4 x 0.86 inches, the Karma is 3 x 2.7 x 1.1 inches, and the Gmini XS200 is 3 x 2.3 x 0.8 inches. That makes the iRiver a good bit larger than both of the other two.
posted by vorfeed at 12:46 PM on March 4, 2005

The Karma has gapless playback. There are a handful of other java apps for the Karma, including one built to be called from the command line. I use that under OSX for automagically getting podcasts onto my Karma.
posted by mzurer at 2:14 PM on March 4, 2005

Oh - I have a first generation Karma (corporate gift) and my cradle doesn't work properly, but I am to understand they have fixed that. I can still use the ethernet feature, but I have to put a hub between the Karma and my NAT router/wifi access point. It's annoying, but I didn't pay for it so I am a little more tolerant than I should be. Karma released too early in general, to get to the Christmas rush two years ago, but all the s/w issues have been resolved through updates. Which do require Windows and a USB connection.
posted by mzurer at 2:19 PM on March 4, 2005

Thanks chaps. I was also looking at an iRiver as well. By the looks of it, I just need to ensure that the MP3 player can operate as a mass storage device, and things should be fine.
posted by salmacis at 2:46 PM on March 4, 2005

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