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Media (Apple) Media Software Linux

Apple Cuts Off Linux iPod Users 854

Posted by Zonk
from the can't-stand-the-heat dept.
Will Fisher writes "New iPods will no longer be able to work with Linux. iTunes now writes some kind of hash (SHA1, md5?) to the iPod database which new iPods check against. If this check fails then the iPod reports that it contains 0 songs. This appears to be protection against 3rd party applications writing out their own databases. We haven't found out how to generate our own valid hashes (but we do know the hash includes the database itself, and possibly the iPod serial number), and are looking for help."
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Apple Cuts Off Linux iPod Users

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  • Question (Score:3, Interesting)

    by s.bots (1099921) on Friday September 14, 2007 @03:51PM (#20607609)
    Does this also mean that new iPods will only work with iTunes and not with superior media management apps?
  • by querist (97166) on Friday September 14, 2007 @03:52PM (#20607639) Homepage
    First, I applaud your determination to uphold the implied freedom to do what one will (within reason, of course) with something that someone owns.

    However, if you are in the USA you are running the risk of Apple invoking the DMCA.

    I hope they don't. I hope you succeed. I firmly believe from a technical standpoint it can be done. My concern is the legal ramifications.
  • by MichaelCrawford (610140) on Friday September 14, 2007 @03:58PM (#20607737) Homepage Journal
    I remember a while back Apple got a lot of criticism from the European Community because the iTMS DRM didn't work on competing players - that's probably one reason Jobs pressed the record labels to let him offer DRM-free music.

    I'd like to see some legal type make the case that Apple has a monopoly on portable music players, and that this is an illegally anticompetitive action.

  • by Floritard (1058660) on Friday September 14, 2007 @04:06PM (#20607891)
    If you're using only Linux, then you're not using iTunes, and unless you have a some separate access to a computer with iTunes you're not using ITMS. So why use the proprietary database format of iTunes at all? Just use rockbox and treat your iPod like what it is, a mass storage device. Easier manage your files that way anyway. Headline really should read Apple Cuts Off ITMS From Potential Users.
  • Re:Oh boy (Score:4, Interesting)

    by cens0r (655208) on Friday September 14, 2007 @04:12PM (#20608033) Homepage
    I know that the article says this affects Rockbox, but I'm unsure as to how? Rockbox replaces the iPod software with new software. It replaces the iPod song database with its own. The hash should be meaningless to it. Of course, Rockbox doesn't yet run on the new iPods, so the point is moot right now.
  • by Arabani (1127547) on Friday September 14, 2007 @04:23PM (#20608253)
    Putting in cryptographic hashes isn't just "breaking the interface". It's called locking down the entire bloody thing and making life miserable for anybody trying to reverse engineer it.

    Granted, Apple is well within its rights to do such a thing, but it's bad PR. People are starting to warm up to the idea that once you buy something, you should be able to use it however you like (since you BOUGHT it). Apple has no obligation to support 3rd party software, but neither are they obligated to break 3rd party software. Without any other explanation, it looks like it was a deliberate attempt to lock out non-Apple software. And that's why people are upset - it's the same reason DRM riles so many people.
  • Re:I hate iTunes (Score:2, Interesting)

    by localman (111171) on Friday September 14, 2007 @04:28PM (#20608365) Homepage
    I'm sure you've heard this and dismissed it, but I'll mention that I also hated iTunes for not doing things my way when I first got it. I'm a tech guy, and I came from a Linux background when I first toyed with OSX. But... now I admit that the iTunes way is better than my way. It's not 100% perfect, but if I let iTunes work as designed I find that I spend almost zero time messing around with file management. It's so much better than xmms or winamp and a file browser.

    I record my own music and have over 8000 songs in my library, so I push iTunes harder than most people. It works great. You just have to use it instead of doing things yourself. It's a little like letting bash handle your interaction with the filesystem instead of doing raw reads on /dev/ad0s1a. You give up some flexibility to gain a huge amount of convenience.

    I'm curious what your specific complaints are? What things can't you do that you want to do?

    Cheers.
  • by MBCook (132727) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Friday September 14, 2007 @04:31PM (#20608433) Homepage

    1) 33% price cut for the iPhone, which threw early adopters in a fit, and then the $100 "rebate".

    That happens. Especially with phones. Remember what a RAZR cost when it first came out? Now there are ads on TV offering 5 free RAZRs with service. It's called the early adopter penalty. My TiVo Series 3 costs much less now than one year ago when I bought it. While all devices do this, phones do it really fast. And they are offering a rebate to people who bought it early enough. That's very kind. They didn't have to do that. In case you didn't notice, iPhones were selling just fine at the old price. No one else offers reimbursements like that.

    2) iPod touch is crippled. The Bluetooth is physically there (supposedly) but not enabled. No editing calender appointments. No Notes app or the other apps from iPhone. Screen issues with the contrast & blackness versus the iPhone.

    It is a media player, not a PDA. If you want a PDA, go buy one. Or buy a PDA/Phone combination like... the iPhone. The old iPods couldn't edit contacts and appointments and such. They didn't cripple that stuff. Besides, since when did Apple NOT segment their devices based on abilities even if device A is also capable of feat Z?

    3) iPod Classic, slower less responsive UI. Old Video accessories don't work with the iClassic.

    Yeah, but it looks better. That's what people care about. Big fancy graphical interface is slower than 5 lines of text. Film at 11. It's not THAT slow. Other companies were getting closer and closer to the iPod interface, so Apple improved it (in most people's eyes). I'm not going to say this is ideal, but according to Ars's tests if you don't wait for the effects to finish, it's just as fast as it used to be (once boot/sync are over). As for coverflow's performance, what do you expect? It's an iPod. It only has so much horsepower for doing 3D transformation on high resolution textures. They could make it faster, but you'd complain about the lower battery life.

    4) iPod Nano, the FatPod. Same slower UI as the Classic. No memory increase.

    See my response above. They added video display, and you just repeat an old complaint. My little sister and her friends have already had Minis and Nanos, and they are all going gaga over this new one. Seems to me Apple knows it's market.

    Seriously, in 10 days Apple seems to have found a way to piss everyone off. Now they go after the Linux community. How badly have they bungled this product launch?

    Really? Seems to me that tons of people are happy. They got their iPhone without the phone. They got a cheaper iPhone. They got video playback on the Nano. They got a way to carry around their 120+ GB music collections. They got longer battery life.

    1) As a non-iPhone owner or wanter, the brew-ha-ha over the $200 price cut irritates me not because of the price cut but the reaction is such that you better believe Apple won't ever make similar price cuts in the future.

    You didn't buy the device, and you are complaining about the price drop being unfair? Don't you have anything better to do?

    Plus you know a 16GB iPhone will come out as soon as the iPhone is released in Europe.

    First, it's a computer product. That happens. Second, I doubt it. It's Apple. They will wait until after Christmas to do that in the US. They got TONS of new iPhone momentum from the price drop. They don't need to do that so they wont. And why complain anyway? How manyh other smart phones came with even 4GB without having to buy additional memory cards?

    2) Once again, the iTouch will be jailbreaked and the iPhone apps ported to the iTouch, but this type of needless product differentiation crippling cause bad will. And, this hacking may break whenever Apple releases a firmware update. For example, the Linux lock-out of this story.

    Linux was never supported, so you shouldn't be surpris

  • Re:But but but... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hiryuu (125210) on Friday September 14, 2007 @04:47PM (#20608767)
    I see a crowd mentality at work here -- people buy and then vigorously defend having bought an iPod, not because it's better than the competition, but because it's what your friends have.

    While I can't argue that many people may have done that, I went from swimming upstream to something that was designed to work with what I had. I had a Rio Karma [wikipedia.org] from a few years back, specifically for the Ogg Vorbis support, but once I made the transition from Windows to Mac, I found that I was swimming upstream in my insistence on using this device. Still, I persisted until the hard drive died, and once the time came to buy another device - well, since I already had and really liked my iBook, I decided to go along with the design flow and picked up an iPod Nano. I wish I hadn't had to re-rip my collection, but I've been very happy with the aesthetics and the usability, given that I use a digital audio player specifically for working out, running/biking, or long drives.

    A number of people will complain about iTunes and how it manages files and playlists - and I agree that it doesn't do things the way I want, the way I'd done them before. It is very easy to use, but does some things I don't like and doesn't present the flexibility or power in use. Do you know what I discovered after a short while? I didn't care - it did a good enough job, and it wasn't worth the effort of micro-managing my playlists in painstaking detail the way I'd done before.
  • by Pausanias (681077) <pausaniasx AT gmail DOT com> on Friday September 14, 2007 @04:48PM (#20608793)
    Price was no object. The main reason I went for a linux laptop was simple---pixel density. I work with very large images, and the more pixels I can see at a time, in better. Even back in 2001, you could buy a cheap 14" Dell with 1440x1050 resolution (128 pixels/linear inch). By contrast, in 2007 you cannot buy a 15.4" inch MacBook pro with similar pixel density. The best Apple can do is 1440x900, which comes to a crappy 110 pixels/linear inch. Simply put, the pixels on a MacBook/MacBook Pro are just way too big.

    My current laptop is a Dell Precision M70 (top of the line in 2004) with a screaming graphics card (NVidia Quadro FX 1400 Go). It runs Ubuntu. Since it's a Pentium M, I can undervolt it in linux and it runs fairly cool. Wireless, everything works out of the box (though WPA didn't work until the most recent version of Ubuntu, 7.04). I love it.

    For things like iPhoto/iMovie/iDVD, you can't beat a mac---I still go back for those. But I'm starting to get sick of this iTunes nonsense, and if there were suitable linux alternatives to iLife (which there aren't, no matter how much we'd like to think so), I would completely ditch OS X.
  • Re:But but but... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by LordSnooty (853791) on Friday September 14, 2007 @04:51PM (#20608843)
    Yes, casual users don't care for the technical details, so they want something usable and stylish. The fact that many of their friends have one too probably doesn't go amiss, since they'll no doubt need help with it or itunes now and again, and want to be confident that they own a machine that must be good because everyone else has one. Usability and marketing were the two edges that pushed the ipod ahead. Having said that there are many equally usable devices out there, but it's no coincidence that the ipod was and still is the most heavily marketed portable media player.
  • Re:I hate iTunes (Score:5, Interesting)

    by caerwyn (38056) on Friday September 14, 2007 @04:56PM (#20608931)
    This is a symptom of exactly what I was talking about.

    Why do you want your music files organized a certain way? The point of iTunes and such software is that you shouldn't need to care how it's organized- you should be able to focus on the task you *actually* want to accomplish: 1) Find specific music. 2) Play said music. 3) Put a subset of your music on an mp3 player. 4) Burn cds of subsets of your music.

    Having to organize files is a problem, not part of a solution to a problem- you should simply be able to perform the above tasks without needing to worry about the details. That's the philosophy of software design with systems like iTunes.

    That's one of the things that has really pushed me away from Linux and toward MacOS X for everyday usage over the past years- the focus on actually getting something done rather than worrying about the stuff that I have to do first in order to subsequently get something done.
  • Re:But but but... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by catbutt (469582) on Friday September 14, 2007 @05:11PM (#20609189)
    So as a "business beholden to stock holders", exactly what would their motivation be for locking out linux users? Or, for that matter, people on Windows or Macs who want to BUY an iPod but not use their FREE iTunes?

    You say they have "long been proprietary with whatever it suits them to be proprietary with"....but their position on DRM doesn't really jibe with this. I'm sure you could come up with something self serving there too, but that seems like a stretch. The only self serving thing I can think of is "doing the right thing by its users might be in the long term financial interest of the company." And if that is the case, that doesn't exactly go along with intentionally locking out linux users.

    And btw, I have been an apple stockholder for 7 years (basically been living off it) and I can tell you that not all stockholders have greed as their only motivation. I bought apple not just because I thought they had potential to make me money, but because I think they generally are a force for good.
  • by Registered Coward v2 (447531) on Friday September 14, 2007 @05:34PM (#20609531)
    This, along with Apple's change to the video out to render devices like Philip's DVD/iPod video player unable to play video from iPods is frustrating. It's a shame Apple has gone far from its roots as a company that encourages innovation around their products.

    Philip's portable DVD/iPOD player is real neat - drop the iPod in the cradle on the device and watch video on a bigger screen.

    Apple even sold similar devices in tehir stores - maybe they just want to extort money from companies that build such devices?
  • Re:I hate iTunes (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mrchaotica (681592) * on Friday September 14, 2007 @05:34PM (#20609545)

    Hmm... I was under the impression that iTunes writes the ID3 info to the file. Sure, it keeps stuff like play counts only in its database, but I thought it wrote stuff like the title to the actual song. Am I wrong?

  • Re:So I guess... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Seq (653613) <slashdot.chrisirwin@ca> on Friday September 14, 2007 @05:39PM (#20609599)

    I have an older 20GB iriver iHP-120. It plays Vorbis, which the ipod does not.

    Recently after looking at replacements (I have 18GB of music, mostly ripped CDs) I decided to order a replacement hard disk. It only gives me an additional 10GB, but when compared to the alternatives, I thought it was the best option (no vorbis support on ipod)

  • by Akaihiryuu (786040) on Friday September 14, 2007 @05:48PM (#20609711)
    Hah...I was just reminded of something I saw when I was out shopping the other day. It seems the fad of having crap named iCrap is really catching on. I saw an iTrashCan. Time to get an iTrashCan to put all of Apple's iCrap in. I swore off Apple in 1990 when they cancelled the Apple IIGS+ after it was demonstrated, instead saying "Tough luck, go buy a Mac". I swore then I would never again buy an Apple product, and seeing stuff like this makes me glad I made that decision. I'm sure it will be reverse engineered, but it won't be a problem for me, as I'll have a *real* MP3 player if I need one.
  • by traindirector (1001483) on Friday September 14, 2007 @06:04PM (#20609903)

    Apple just gave a lot of people much more incentive to install a new OS on their iPod.

    They've also made it currently impossible to use alternate OSes on the iPod by encrypting the firmware [ipodlinux.org] on the 2nd gen Nano and all subsequent iPods, which is a much more difficult obstacle to overcome. I'm surprised there isn't as much of an uproar about this on Slashdot.

  • by numbski (515011) * <numbski.hksilver@net> on Friday September 14, 2007 @08:45PM (#20611551) Homepage Journal
    This is just bizarre. I bought an iPhone 2 days ago. In 1 hour, I had it jailbroken, youtube fix run, unlocked, had a full bsd subsystem installed, and openssh running. I have full access to the filesystem, and I am, as I type this, setting up the toolchain to compile even more applications for it.

    The iphone dev team at iphone dev wiki are due most of the credit, but the fact remains that this iPhone is very hackable, and is looking to be my favorite mobile device. Now they're trying to encrypt the crap out of everthing. :(

    Go fig.
  • Saw it coming... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by evilviper (135110) on Saturday September 15, 2007 @01:16AM (#20613267) Journal
    Who didn't see this coming? Anyone trying to encode 640x480 h.264 videos for playback on the iPod/AppleTV certainly did, as they've left the format completely undocumented, require a stupid arbitrary UUID atom to be there or iTunes won't copy it to the player, and perhaps even worse, iTunes imposes other restrictions on the encoding options that hobble the quality, yet such files play fine on the iPod hardware, you are just forced to use a 3rd party app to copy such files over.
        http://lists.mplayerhq.hu/pipermail/ffmpeg-devel/2006-September/015930.html [mplayerhq.hu]

    IMHO, everyone should load up the RockBox firmware on their iPods, and tell Apple to screw themselves and their proprietary lockout nonsense, before they try to stop people from upgrading their firmware, too. As an added bonus, you are then able to use higher quality and open/patent-free audio formats (Ogg Vorbis/MPC Musepack).

  • by AusIV (950840) on Saturday September 15, 2007 @01:28AM (#20613363)

    Just use rockbox and treat your iPod like what it is, a mass storage device.

    There are a number of reasons not to use Rockbox. First, it's not yet supported on the new line of iPods, so it's not even an option. Next, rockbox has horrible battery life relative to the iPod firmware. Then there's the interface to consider: I never really could figure out how to find songs or playlists in the rockbox interface. Lastly, the main reason I see to use an iPod is the vast array of addons that are available for the iPod. I have an adapter in my car radio that lets me plug in my iPod and control it with the head unit - don't think you can use that with Rockbox.

    That said, I'm still completely content with my old grayscale iPod, which works quite well with Amarok. I've no intentions of "upgrading" until it has completely died. Once that happens, I'll consider another iPod if they're working with Linux again, otherwise Apple has lost a semi-content customer.

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