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Media (Apple) Media Software Linux

Apple Cuts Off Linux iPod Users 854

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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  • by morgan_greywolf ( 835522 ) on Friday September 14, 2007 @02:49PM (#20607575) Homepage Journal
    They should talk to the GAIM^WPidgin developers. I've heard that they have a wee bit of experience in reverse-engineering hashes transmitted over a network.
  • Rockbox (Score:4, Informative)

    by AlexCorn ( 763954 ) on Friday September 14, 2007 @02:54PM (#20607663)
    Just use Rockbox then. It's an open-source firmware replacement. Though it may not run on the newest generation of iPods yet... []
  • by tripwirecc ( 1045528 ) on Friday September 14, 2007 @02:55PM (#20607677)
    Trying to make gtkpod work, I've borked my 2nd gen iPod nano. Starting from scratch, I could files make show up but not play. I had the brilliant idea and update to the latest firmware, hoping it was an issue with it. Now I can't make anything at all show up unless it's added with iTunes. Coincidence?
  • by Wooloomooloo ( 902011 ) on Friday September 14, 2007 @03:07PM (#20607917)
    They're cheaper, too.
  • Re:So I guess... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Leftist Troll ( 825839 ) on Friday September 14, 2007 @03:07PM (#20607933)
    That is, assuming this isn't defeated.

    Hop along to freenode #gtkpod if you have some serious technical expertise in this kind of thing and are able to obtain a new iPod Classic or Nano.
  • Re:Rockbox (Score:2, Informative)

    by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Friday September 14, 2007 @03:11PM (#20608015) Journal

    This affects Linux users - there's no iTunes for Linux, so popular Linux iPod management tools like gtkpod and Rockbox will not work with the new range of iPods.
  • by rebmemeR ( 1056120 ) on Friday September 14, 2007 @03:16PM (#20608115)
    iTunes sucks. I have an iPod 160 and my library has 11,000 songs (and there are folks out there with 50,000+). I'm on Windows XP SP2 on a fast box with 2GB memory and USB 2.0. iTunes is entirely unscalable. It is very slow to do anything with my library, even with manual sync. Adding one song to the iPod is a 5-minute process. File transfer speed is not the problem. For sure iTunes wastes time doing unnecessary work. Ejecting the iPod alone takes over a minute. Also, the iTunes MP3 player is buggy. It has trouble with MP3/VBR and generates clicking in the audio output. MediaMonkey is a much better content organizer. It is very fast. But the Apple's file format change on the iPod Classic means the current version of MM can't handle the iPod filesystem. I hope the MM developers will have the problem solved soon.
  • DMCA? Please. (Score:2, Informative)

    by poetmatt ( 793785 ) on Friday September 14, 2007 @03:16PM (#20608129) Journal
    There is nothing that can be done to DMCA this. Please take note of the fact that you own your own product and can do whatever you want with it, and can cry DMCA all day if you want. If you go public with the crack, you'd have to prove 0 in court, but this would not be unlike the cell phone issue. There's also nothing that you are circumventing. They are just making the IPOD not display things properly. If you enable this, you'd actually be fixing things, not circumventing any form of protection whatsoever.

    If they DMCA'd your site, you'd have even more against them. Especially if you publish the formula/code for the crack/cipher [], there's not a lot you can do.

  • by ajs ( 35943 ) <ajs@ajs.c3.14om minus pi> on Friday September 14, 2007 @03:27PM (#20608341) Homepage Journal

    I heard cannabis brownies were the way to go.
    Those are "hash brownies" as in brownies that use the oils rendered from cannabis (hash). They aren't actually hash, and thus the first pun was the better executed.

    Sorry, but if you're going to pun poorly, prepare to be critiqued.

    See [] which disambiguates the various uses.
  • Re:But but but... (Score:5, Informative)

    Usability and simplicity. I've had three other music players, some of them having received very good reviews (cowon products). But I used my wife's iPod, and it is simply a better, more user-friendly experience. I was disappointed to go back to my old player; and will very likely be replacing it with an ipod when it dies.

    Itunes is another reason for the casual user. They don't care about formats. Most of them can't tell the difference in quality. They don't need to transfer it to a million different locations. They know they can hear a song they like, and own it, and enjoy it -- relatively cheaply, and without any headache or hassle. I'm not a fan of it for the reasons you mentioned, but the vast majority of the paying public doesn't really care about those issues. Most aren't even aware of them.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 14, 2007 @03:39PM (#20608593)
    You don't even have to RTFA to see that it states that this stops Rockbox from working as well, as several posters have already pointed this fact out.
  • Re:But but but... (Score:2, Informative)

    by hcdejong ( 561314 ) <{ln.tensmx} {ta} {sebboh}> on Friday September 14, 2007 @03:44PM (#20608707)
    iPod popularity is due in part to herd mentality, but there are solid technical reasons as well. The main one is the UI: the iPod/iTunes combination beat the shit out of anything else when it first came out, and AIU it's still one of the best around.
    Because it became so popular early on, there are lots of accessories for it, which creates its own momentum.

    Also, the restrictions are something most people (non-geeks) can live with, sound quality is good enough (hell, I've no problem with the sound quality of the iPod and I'm an audio nerd), and it supports all the music formats most people (non-geeks) use.

    And it's easily the best-looking music player around. No herd mentality needed to see that one, either.
  • by larry bagina ( 561269 ) on Friday September 14, 2007 @03:56PM (#20608937) Journal
    which proprietary format? AAC? (oops, not proprietary) MP3? (oops, not proprietary). AIFF? (oops, not proprietary) WAV? (oops, not proprietary).
  • Re:I hate iTunes (Score:1, Informative)

    by c.r.o.c.o ( 123083 ) on Friday September 14, 2007 @03:58PM (#20608977)
    Now try to uninstall iTunes. EVERY SINGLE ID3 tag you edited with it will be completely wiped out. I was lucky that I had backups of all my music, otherwise I would have had to input tags for about 90Gb worth of music.
  • by ben kohler ( 1109391 ) on Friday September 14, 2007 @04:03PM (#20609049)

    Rockbox, last I checked, had a fraction the battery life of the ipod os, and was also not very responsive of an interface. Are you saying its better now?
    i don't have an ipod, but i do follow rockbox development. from the changelog, august 6:

    Reduced battery consumption on PP5002 targets (iPod 1st/2nd gen and 3rd gen). Now rockbox battery runtime is better than OF, verified on 2nd gen :-)
    OF = original firmware, of course. so apparently, yes it is better now! maybe time to give it another try =)
  • Re:I hate iTunes (Score:3, Informative)

    by Mr. Underbridge ( 666784 ) on Friday September 14, 2007 @04:04PM (#20609063)

    Now try to uninstall iTunes. EVERY SINGLE ID3 tag you edited with it will be completely wiped out. I was lucky that I had backups of all my music, otherwise I would have had to input tags for about 90Gb worth of music.

    I'm good with what CDDB grabs, so no big deal.

  • Re:Oh boy (Score:4, Informative)

    by TrekkieGod ( 627867 ) on Friday September 14, 2007 @04:09PM (#20609159) Homepage Journal

    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.

    Encrypting of the database shouldn't directly affect rockbox, but they've been encrypting the firmware too, and the hardware will not run unencrypted firmware. It's not only the extremely new iPods that rockbox won't run on. I got a 2nd gen nano for free that I would love to install rockbox on, but the encryption thing appears to be one of the reasons they don't have a version for it yet.

    So it's not that the encryption of the database directly prevents rockbox. The encryption of the database prevents users from using Linux with the Apple firmware, and since they've been encrypting the firmware for a while, installing rockbox isn't likely to be an option anytime soon.

  • by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) * on Friday September 14, 2007 @04:17PM (#20609285)

    AAC? (oops, not proprietary) MP3? (oops, not proprietary)

    AAC and MP3 are still proprietary, you know. They're standards, yes, but proprietary ones. In contrast, the Xiph formats (e.g. Vorbis, FLAC) are actually not proprietary.

    The thing that makes a format proprietary or not is whether anyone is allowed to implement and/or use it without paying royalties, not how popular it is.

  • by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) * on Friday September 14, 2007 @04:25PM (#20609409)

    I have a massive CD collection ripped sitting on a shared drive, and everytime she wants something she has to let Itunes convert it and store another copy of the song.

    Are you sure that's because iTunes doesn't support the format you used (which I find unlikely unless you ripped to WMA, which as other posters have pointed out was stupid to begin with)? I ask because the other (and more likely, in my opinion) possibility is that your wife has the "Copy files to iTunes Music folder when adding to library" and/or "Keep iTunes Music folder organized" options checked in her iTunes preferences. If you turn those off, it should (theoretically) work without having to make a copy.

  • by interactive_civilian ( 205158 ) <mamoru@gm a i l . com> on Friday September 14, 2007 @04:27PM (#20609435) Homepage Journal
    so asked davetd02:

    Is Apple trying to freeze-out Linux, or is Apple trying to fix a potential security hole, which hits Linux as a side-effect.
    I would think the obvious answer is that Apple is perhaps trying to break all of the programs out there like Senuti for Mac and Floola for Windows, programs which allow users to copy music OFF their iPods. Given those programs, the iPod becomes a great sneakernet way of sharing lots of music very quickly with friends. I imagine they want this to stop.

    Cutting off Linux users is just a side effect of this.

  • by 2nd Post! ( 213333 ) <{ten.llebcap} {ta} {raebdnug}> on Friday September 14, 2007 @05:14PM (#20610039) Homepage
    Yes, Apple does inform the consumer that iTunes is required, on their tech specs page: []

    You have to consider that the iPod page on Apple's site is actually for iTunes: []

    Then the title is actually, "iTunes+iPod".

    Then when you click on the iPod classic there is an iTunes tab: []

    They also describe exactly how iTunes+iPod works:
    The moment you connect your iPod to a Mac or PC, iTunes syncs music and video automatically.
  • Re:I hate iTunes (Score:3, Informative)

    by shmlco ( 594907 ) on Friday September 14, 2007 @05:30PM (#20610203) Homepage
    "There's very little in the available extra metadata that's meaningful for creating "subsets of music"."

    Oh please. I have playlists with new music, old '60s music, favorite music by ratings, by genres, by year, by specific playlists, and so on. And the "notes" field is great for tagging songs and albums.

    Typical notes field: rock, classic, 60s, folk, female, vocal, soft, background

    Use that and the other fields (type, grouping, rating, and so on) and I can create hundreds of meaningful custom "subsets" of music. (Classic Rock Female Vocalists, Classic Rock Background Music, Favorite Female Vocalists, etc.) In fact, I often create a new smart playlist depending on my mood and end up finding stuff I'd forgotten about.

    I think the real problem is that you spent no time whatsoever exploring what could be done with it. iTunes has a LOT of power hidden under that hood.
  • by alienw ( 585907 ) <> on Friday September 14, 2007 @05:39PM (#20610303)
    I doubt that is the case. The file is not encrypted; it's just signed with a hash. You can still get the files off of the thing, and you can find out what they are from the database, which is still readable. It's just impossible to modify the iTunesDB with third-party software now (at least until this gets cracked, which shouldn't take more than a couple of weeks). I'm guessing the reason is either for database integrity, or as some part of FairPlay (maybe to keep people from copying DRMed content between iPods).
  • Re:So I guess... (Score:5, Informative)

    by fratermus ( 608212 ) on Friday September 14, 2007 @06:58PM (#20611083) Homepage
    iPods are highly overrated, and irritatingly restrictive. I have a sandisk sansa express (3gb after adding in the microSD) and the wife has a creative zen stone 3gb. Both were cheap and show up as USB drives on our respective Debian Linux 2.6.x boxen.
  • Re:I hate iTunes (Score:4, Informative)

    by John Whitley ( 6067 ) on Friday September 14, 2007 @07:21PM (#20611327) Homepage
    I call BS. I wrote a rb-appscript tool to sync a master iTunes library (mostly ALAC) to a transcoded (AAC + other) iTunes library, and every last bit of ID3-style metadata was preserved in the files for an entire ~600 album collection. A few dimensions are stored only in the iTunes DB, the user/library specific stuff such as play count, rating, etc.

    Note that the aforementioned tool works only by using Applescript to make iTunes transcode files, then transfers those files to the secondary library's directories -- there's no attempt to transfer data directly between the iTunes Library database files. The secondary iTunes picks up everything just fine from only the file-stored metadata.

    The possible exception to this may be album art downloaded from iTunes (as opposed to that originally embedded in tracks and/or manually acquired using something like the AmazonArt widget, web search, etc.). Haven't really experimented in this area much yet...

  • by xoran99 ( 745620 ) on Friday September 14, 2007 @07:58PM (#20611681)
    On the internets these days, ftw means For The Win.
  • by Phroggy ( 441 ) <slashdot3 AT phroggy DOT com> on Friday September 14, 2007 @08:09PM (#20611779) Homepage
    Either you don't understand what the DMCA says, or you don't understand what Apple has done.

    Apple has added a hash to the iTunes Library database. The music is not encrypted*, so we're not talking about breaking encryption to bypass DRM, and the database is not copyrighted, so we're not talking about breaking encryption to bypass DRM. The DMCA doesn't apply.

    * Unless you bought encrypted music from the iTunes Store, but even if you did, we're not talking about breaking that encryption.
  • Re:But but but... (Score:3, Informative)

    by dreamchaser ( 49529 ) on Friday September 14, 2007 @08:49PM (#20612067) Homepage Journal
    I call BS on the usability arguement, sorry. My Creative Zen Nano is just as easy to use as my daughter's iPod if not easier. The only reason iPods sell as well as they do is name and hype.

    Itunes *maybe*. I personally hate it and won't use it, but I can see how it might lock in some users. Usability though? No.
  • Re:So I guess... (Score:3, Informative)

    by mcpkaaos ( 449561 ) on Friday September 14, 2007 @09:05PM (#20612193)
    I can't listen to the DRM'd iTMS tracks

    It's been a while since I purchased anything on iTunes, but wouldn't QTFairUse take care of that for you?
  • by vertigoCiel ( 1070374 ) on Saturday September 15, 2007 @12:08AM (#20613203)

    2) iPod touch is crippled. The Bluetooth is physically there (supposedly) but not enabled.

    Actually, iFixit [] just disassembled a Touch, and found there is no bluetooth hardware [] at all. It was just a mistake on the part of an Apple product-mock-up guy.
  • it's not stupidity (Score:3, Informative)

    by m2943 ( 1140797 ) on Saturday September 15, 2007 @12:39AM (#20613421)
    ...that Apple did it because they were stupid, not malicious.

    Apple isn't stupid. You can bet that this move was carefully considered and motivated by the bottom line. I agree that they probably aren't concerned that much with locking out Linux users, but you can bet that they are concerned about free tools that access the contest of the device.
  • Re:So I guess... (Score:3, Informative)

    by nicolastheadept ( 930317 ) <> on Saturday September 15, 2007 @02:37AM (#20614055)
    Install rockbox on an iPod, as that supports vorbis.
  • Re:Rockbox (Score:4, Informative)

    by makomk ( 752139 ) on Saturday September 15, 2007 @09:47AM (#20615983) Journal
    Not only does Rockbox not run on the newest generation of iPods, it probably never will, because the firmware is now encrypted (and possibly signed as well, but no-one knows for sure yet). This means that it isn't a solution of any of the iPods affected by this issue. The index file changes aren't the only thing Apple has done to lock them down.
  • by haraldm ( 643017 ) on Saturday September 15, 2007 @10:05AM (#20616133)
    Well. Get a used iPod 5 and / or install Rockbox []. Death to proprietary crap!

"Bureaucracy is the enemy of innovation." -- Mark Shepherd, former President and CEO of Texas Instruments