Can iPod 4th-gen Shuffles play nicely with Ubuntu?
October 2, 2011 6:36 AM   Subscribe

I received a 4th-gen iPod Shuffle as a gift and I'm running Ubuntu. Marriage made in hell?

I recently received a 4th-gen iPod Shuffle as a gift and would like to use it if I can. I have a 1-GB Sandisk Sansa that plays fairly well with Ubuntu, but the Shuffle is 2 GB...

I'm dual-booting Vista and Ubuntu 11.04, and spend most of my time on the Ubuntu side. I've tried iTunes on Vista, uninstalled it after the nth 90-MB update hosed my podcasts, and don't want to go back.

I've tried two players on Ubuntu - Rhythmbox and Floola - and while Rhythmbox sees the Shuffle, I can't get songs to copy over successfully. Floola doesn't see the device at all. N.B. most of my MP3s are homemade or downloaded from free-music sites.

I've looked at UbuntuForums and have seen a variety of responses with general approach suggestions, but I need a step-by-step approach for "dummies." My own question on UbuntuForums has gone unanswered.

Can anyone help? Thanks.
posted by Currer Belfry to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Can you put the iPod in "disk" mode? For my Sansa Clip, it has a setting that made it appear to the computer as just another USB storage device. I can transfer files with just the operating system, Rhythmbox works fine with it, and gPodder works for podcasts.

Also try gtkPod and YamiPod, both of them are reported to work with the 4th Gen Ipod Shuffle.
posted by COD at 6:54 AM on October 2, 2011

COD - the Shuffle has no screen to tell me what's going on or to let me know if I've changed a setting successfully, unlike my Sandisk. I guess Apple was aiming at making the device as small as possible, but some sort of display would have been nice...

I'm not sure the Shuffle even has an MSC/MTP switch. The 1" X 1" (oy) manual doesn't say anything about it.

I will try gtkPod and YamiPod though - thanks for the tips. (I just tried shuffle-db as well - no joy.)
posted by Currer Belfry at 7:13 AM on October 2, 2011

The docs for Ubuntu 10.04 say Rhythmbox can handle iPods from first to fifth generation. I've also had success with Ubuntu with various iPods and command-line methods, but it's not something I'd try to explain to somebody in blog comments.

So: it can be done, but it might be a little fiddly. (E.g., you might need to do a firmware wipe & restore on the iPod or something.) Once you get it working, it will probably continue to work just fine.
posted by spacewrench at 8:39 AM on October 2, 2011

You might try using ifuse and gtkpod (on my phone right now so I can't search for more detailed instructions, but those keywords should be enough for you to find them). I have a Touch and Rhythmbox/Banshee seem to have trouble with it, but if I manually mount the iPod w/ ifuse and then use gtkpod to transfer files, things seem to work. It is sort of a less sophisticated interface than the various iTunes-alikes but it gets the job done.
posted by en forme de poire at 11:03 AM on October 2, 2011

For $30 on Amazon you can get a 2GB Sansa Clip Plus - for $40 or so you can get a 4 GB. The Clip is superior to a Shuffle in every way, can be set up to look like a drive, and will work fine with Ubuntu. It even has a display.

How much is your time worth ?
posted by rfs at 11:07 AM on October 2, 2011

Thanks for the responses, everyone.

As rfs notes, it's going to come down to how much time I'm willing to spend on the issue, and I'm moving toward critical mass. A couple more tries and then perhaps some regifting may be in order!
posted by Currer Belfry at 1:08 PM on October 2, 2011

I'm not currently running Ubuntu due to gaming, but when I did Amarok was far and away the best option for talking to ipods. Better than itunes under windows.
posted by markr at 3:58 PM on October 2, 2011

I had a 2nd gen shuffle (I think, it was square with a clip on the back). The best way I got it to work in linux is with shuffle-db. It's a python script that sits on the shuffle. I copied mp3's to the shuffle manually, using the normal file manager, then before disconnecting I would run

There are good things -- you can set a folder for podcasts and ebooks so they resume where they left off. And there are bad things -- if you forget to run any new files won't be playable.

One big warning -- I don't know if it works on your model. If they've changed up the database format, it might not. But it doesn't hurt to try -- if you break the db any other music player will recreate it.
posted by mad bomber what bombs at midnight at 7:09 PM on October 2, 2011

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