After posting the article on Ubuntu coming to mobile devices I finally remembered that I have been using open-source firmware on my iPod (5th generation) for the last few months. What exactly does this mean? Essentially, I have replaced the existing closed-source Apple firmware with the Rockbox open-source (and multi-platform) firmware. Rockbox allows the user to fully customize the graphical user interface. While customizing the interface with the hundreds of available skins is fantastic, the true beauty of Rockbox comes from the increased function it offers. Most notably of which is offering far more file formats that can be decoded and played compared to the Apple firmware.
While installation of Rockbox was a breeze for myself I would not recommend it to those that are not technically savvy or do not want to “brick” their media player; although it would be fun to take it apart! Another reason for the less tech savvy to avoid Rockbox is that the initial interface is quite “geeky” and may be intimidating/confusing. However, for those tech nuts out there I highly recommend you give Rockbox a shot! If you do not like it you can easily revert to the firmware you initially had from Apple.
At this point you may be intrigued or just want this article to be done. I realize most of my readers with portable media devices most likely have iPods. What exactly does Rockbox add for iPods? Here is an excerpt from the Rockbox FAQ:
“Rockbox for the iPod 4G, Color, Nano and Video models supports a large number of plugins, including games, applications, and “demos” – have some fun when you’ve got some free time to kill, open files with the text viewer, make use of the stopwatch, view some JPEG photos, or turn your iPod into a desktop clock. Also enjoy On-The-Go playlist creation and adjustment, full file bookmarking support and much more.”
Also, if you want to play with Rockbox on my iPod, and I will be happy to show you (this does require you to know me).