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How To Manage An iPod From A Linux Desktop With Rhythmbox

This article shows how you can use an iPod on a Linux desktop with the Rhythmbox audio player. It covers how you can upload MP3 files from your desktop to your iPod and delete files on the iPod. Normally, Apple’s iTunes software is needed to manage an iPod, but iTunes is not available for Linux. Fortunately, there are Linux alternatives such as Rhythmbox that can handle the task.

I do not issue any guarantee that this will work for you!


1 Preliminary Note

I have tested this with an iPod nano on a PCLinuxOS 2007 desktop where I have installed Rhythmbox using the PCLinuxOS package manager. If Rhythmbox isn’t already installed on your desktop, install it using your distribution’s package manager. The usage of Rhythmbox is the same, regardless of the distribution.


2 Plug In Your iPod

First plug in your iPod into your desktop system using the iPod USB cable. The iPod should be mounted automatically, and you should find an iPod icon on your desktop. On my PCLinuxOS 2007 desktop, I get asked what to do with the new medium – I select Open in New Window to make sure the iPod really gets mounted (I close the new window then). Depending on your distribution, your iPod might as well be mounted immediately, without a question.


This is how it should look if your iPod got mounted:


3 Start Rhythmbox

Now start Rhythmbox (on PCLinuxOS 2007, it’s under Multimedia > Sound > Rhythmbox Music Player):


If you’re starting Rhythmbox for the first time, it will come up with a configuration wizard that helps you set up your music library (you won’t see this if you’ve already configured and used Rhythmbox before). Click on Forward:


Rhythmbox wants to know the folder where you store your music files so that it can add your music files to its library. Click on the Browse… button:


Go to your music folder (e.g. /home/falko/Music) and click on the Open button:


If you see the correct folder in the Path: field, click on Forward:


Click on Apply to finish the configuration:


4 Upload Music To The iPod

After Rhythmbox has started, you should find your local music files under Library. You should also find an entry for your iPod in the left window (Source):


Now let’s assume you want to transfer all files from an artist/an album/a single music file to the iPod. Mark the appropriate item (i.e. the artist/album/file) and drag & drop it to the iPod entry in the Source window:


The files are now being transferred. You should see a progress bar in the bottom right part of the Rhythmbox window:


Afterwards, browse the files on your iPod. You should now find your new music file(s) there:


5 Delete Music On the iPod

To delete files on the iPod, browse the music files on your iPod and mark all files that you want to delete (to delete a single file, just click on it; if you want to delete multiple files, hold down the CTRL key and then click on your desired files to mark them; to mark all files, just press CTRL-a). Then right-click on one of the files and select Move to Trash from the menu:


The files are now being deleted.


6 Unplug The iPod

There are two ways to unplug your iPod if you use Rhythmbox. The first way is to right-click on the iPod entry in the Source window and select Eject from the menu:


If you get an error message, you can ignore it. You can close Rhythmbox now, and if you find that the iPod icon has disappeared from the desktop, you can unplug the iPod.

The second way is to right-click on the iPod icon on your desktop and select the appropriate item. On PCLinuxOS 2007, it’s called Safely Remove. On other distributions, it might be something similar to Unmount or Eject:


The iPod icon should now disappear. You can now unplug the iPod from your Linux desktop.


  • Rhythmbox: