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iPodLinux is a µClinux-based Linux distribution designed specifically to run on Apple Inc.marker's iPod. When the iPodLinux kernel is booted it takes the place of Apple's iPod operating system and automatically loads Podzilla, an alternative GUI and launcher for a number of additional included programs such as a video player, an image viewer, a command line shell, game, emulators for video game consoles, programming demos, and other experimental or occasionally unfinished software.

Basic structure

iPodLinux in essence consists of a graphical booting Linux kernel built from µClinux sources using the uClibc C standard library with driver code for iPod components (or reverse engineered drivers where available). It includes userland programs from µClinux and/or BusyBox, a UNIX-style file system (which can be created within HFS+ formatted iPods, or an ext2 partition on FAT32 formatted iPod), and the Podzilla GUI (and its modules). Apple's proprietary iPod OS in contrast uses an invisible boot loader and is based on an ARM processor kernel originally written by Pixo and the iPod browser program, a GUI written by Apple and Pixo using the Pixo application framework, and other firmware and component drivers written from manufacturer's reference code to support the standard behavior Apple wanted iPod to have.


Besides the kernel, iPodLinux features as a primary component podzilla and podzilla2, applications which provide:


The bootloader for the 4th generation iPod was extracted by Nils Schneider, a German computer science student. Previous software methods to extract the necessary bootloader to enable Linux to be ported no longer worked. Bernard Leach had previously discovered how to operate the piezo buzzer inside the iPod. Schneider was able to use this program with some modifications to make a series of clicks for each byte of bootloader. The extraction process took 22 hours to complete and required Schneider to construct a soundproof box to prevent outside interference with the process.

Server transition

On June 11, 2008 the organization's website was suspended and replaced with a redirect to a blank page. The server had its services restored incrementally. On October 1, 2008 the DNS address was updated and the server was online again by 5 October, 2008. On June 22, 2009 the server was pulled offline again. The server was back online again on September 8.


According to the iPodLinux wiki, "developers have succeeded in getting [the following features] to work - it does not imply that the feature is ready for widespread use."

iPodLinux compatibility chart
Generation date LCD Input Serial Hard Drive Piezo Audio Playback Audio Recording FireWire USB Power Management Video Out
classic 1 2001.10
classic 2 2002.07
classic 3 2003.04
classic 4 2004.07
classic 5 2005.10
classic 5.5 2005.10
classic 6 2007.09
Touch 2007.09
mini 1 2004.01
mini 2 2005.02
classic 4 Photo/Color 2004.10
nano 1 2006.02
nano 2 2006.09
nano 3 2007.09
nano 4 2008.09
  1. Serial is required for the remote to work.
  2. Currently podzilla accesses the piezo directly - there is no kernel driver.
  3. Only recording via microphone works on these models, no line in.
  4. A basic battery meter and deep sleep functions are available.
  5. Neither USB nor FireWire communication drivers exist yet for these
       models. Instead when a USB device is plugged in, the iPod prompts the user to restart the ipod into disk mode.
  6. For iPod nano 2Gs and newer it is currently impossible to execute custom code due to encrypted firmware.
  7. Will probably not be supported. iPhone and iPod Touch (OS X) homebrew software is already available.
  8. Date that the iPod was originally released, not the date it was supported by iPodLinux.
  9. February 2007 5.5G iPods (Brighter backlight, AKA 5.1/5.5/5th Gen Enhanced) work with a special kernel developed by

As of 5 August 2006, only the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd generation iPod are officially supported by iPodLinux, although newer generations are also partially compatible. The iPodLinux project does not plan support for the iPod shuffle due to the lack of a GCC compiler for the shuffle's DSP57000 core, as well as the fact that the iPod shuffle lacks a screen. While later generations work fine for many uses of iPodLinux, not all features work; these later generations will not be officially supported by the project until most or all features from the earlier iPods work on them. Installers are in the process of being made. As of now, there is Installer 2.3 for Microsoft Windows or Linux which can install on any generation iPod (except for the iPod shuffle and iPod nano 2nd generation). As of April, 2008, iPodLinux does not work on the new iPod firmware included with the second and third generation iPod nano or the 6th generation iPod Classic, and installer 2 cannot be used to install iPodLinux on 5.5th generation iPod. In addition to that, the much spoken about audio recording feature currently does not work on the latest ipodlinux/zeroslackr builds. In ipodlinux, an under development message is given under recording, while in zeroslackr, recording is not displayed at all.

Arguably one of the project's more notable accomplishments is its video player, released months before rumors about Apple's Video iPod began to spread. This video player only plays uncompressed AVI files, which are basically just a series of bitmap formatted frames with an audio overlay that commonly loses sync with the video output. A new compression technique called MoviePod, released in 2006, enables people to put more video content on their iPod. This function continues to be developed and is a useful function for users of older iPod (especially nano users that, with the help of iPodLinux, can get an extremely small media center that can be held in the palm of the hand).

podzilla 2, the second generation of podzilla, and commonly known as pz2, is currently in development and has recently superseded the original version of podzilla. It includes several new features, most notably modularity; users can install new applications, such as those below, without recompiling all of podzilla. This version is the only working set of Podzilla official that will run on 5.5G iPods.

See also


External links

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