Today I got my hands on an iPod, and, naturally, I had to see how it worked with Ubuntu. First, of course, I had to see ifmedia it worked at all with Ubuntu; it did — and well, I might add.

As soon as I plugged the iPod into my laptop, Amarok started up. At this point, the battle was half-done. By the way, if you’re in the market for an amazing music player, Amarok may be what you’re looking for. To get the latest version, just add

# Latest Amarok
deb http://kubuntu.org/packages/amarok-latest dapper main

to your sources.list (sources.list primer), then load up Synaptic and install Amarok (Synaptic instructions).

To access the files in the iPod from Amarok, simply go to Settings–>Configure Amarok, then click on ‘Media Devices’. From there, click on ‘Add Device’, like so:


choose “Apple iPod Media Device” for the plugin, enter the name of the iPod, click ‘Okay’, then apply the changes. You should now have a new “Media Devices” tab at the bottom left of Amarok, which, when clicked, displays the contents of your iPod!


You can easily add files from your collection to your iPod by right-clicking on the directory or files you’d like under the “Collection” tab, then “Transfer to Media Device”. Under the “Media Device” tab, you should then see a Transfer Queue. Right click on a track in the queue to start the transfer, or to cancel the transfer.

Similarly, to add files from your iPod to your collection, simply right-click on the files you would like, and select “Copy Files to Collection”. When you’re finished using your iPod, right-click on its icon on the Desktop, and select ‘Eject’.

Note: If your iPod is formatted for Mac — that is, it’s HFS+, and you receive an error message about a failure to create a lockfile and read-only permissions, you’ll probably need to boot into a Mac and turn off journalling on your iPod via the disk utility in order to use your iPod with Amarok (thanks, James!).

Nice and easy! Also, the Cowon iAudio X5 (which I use) works just as well as the iPod in Ubuntu; the Nautilus file browser pops up when you plug it in, and from there you can add and remove files as you please.

Digg this!



  1. martin persia said

    Media Device: failed to create lockfile on iPod mounted at /media/ipod: Read-only file system

    i keep getting that same error

  2. Alyson said

    Hm. I haven’t encountered that error, but it sounds like an issue with permissions. I found a thread on the Ubuntu Forums that deals with the same error (perhaps you posted it?), and the solution offered sounds right on the money. Open up a Terminal (Applications->Accessories->Terminal), then enter the following:

    chmod +w /media/ipod

    That should add write permission.  If the command seems cryptic, “chmod” is just an abbreviation for “change mode,” (the mode being file permissions, in this case), and we can translate “+w” to “add write.”  And, of course, “/media/ipod” is where your iPod is located.  So, more or less, the command means “change the mode, or permissions, to allow writing to /media/ipod.”  Also, if you aren’t running the latest version of Amarok, you may want to consider it.

  3. gordsellar said

    Yup, I keep getting the same error on my IAUDIO M3, which makes me think it’s a Linux issue with mounted media, not a hardware-specific thing. But I’ll try it on my windows installation and see what happens.

  4. Alyson said

    I don’t know if this helps, but I’m running Amarok 1.4.1 in Ubuntu 6.06, and the iPod I used had been originally formatted from Windows and used extensively in Windows. I can’t find much on this specific error, but people with similar errors seemed to have some luck with upgrading to the latest version of Amarok or loading at least one song to their iPods from Windows (if their iPods were new).

    However, if you’re already using Amarok 1.4.1 in Ubuntu 6.06, and you’ve already loaded a song or two into your respective portable digital music devices from Windows, and you still can’t write to them, then I’m sure we’d all love to hear from somebody who actually knows how to fix this problem! I have to say I’m stumped, as I haven’t encountered this error from my current configuration. Needless to say, of course, if I do find a solution, I will post it here.

  5. The error you are experiencing usually happens when your iPod is formatted for Mac (ie: HFS+). The problem is that the system won’t mount an HFS+ volume as read and write unless journalling is turned off on the volume first.

    Just boot into your Mac, use disk utility to turn journalling off, and linux should be happier.


  6. Alyson said

    Finally, an answer! Thanks, James. I think I’ll add that information to the post.

  7. Patrick said

    My pod already had journaling turned off so I hooked it back into OS X and modified permissions so that anyone can read and write to it. Probably not something everyone wants to do for security’s sake, but hey, if you don’t have any sensitive information on your ipod, you should try it.

  8. annamariah said

    Thank you so much! I was having a horrible time with gtkpod, thinking that Amarok wouldn’t work. I can’t believe it was so easy. Thanks again!

  9. Alyson said

    Hi annamariah,

    I’m glad this worked out for you! I’ve never used gtkpod, but then again, since the iPod seems to integrate so well with Amarok, I haven’t had any need for it.

  10. Tim said


    I’m hping someone can help!

    I’ve restored my Nano using my daughter’s Macbook (originally, the iPod’s file system was created under Windows). I also turned Journaling off. All seemed well for a while until I was getting Amarok errors like ‘can’t find Tunes DB’ and ‘ failed to create lockfile on iPod’ .

    Do I need to make the iPod writable or something. If so, should I just chmod in ‘Terminal’ on her Macbook, or on my Linux box?

    Yours Desperately,

    Tim 🙂

  11. Kevin said

    I was looking up how I could use a Mac formatted iPod and came across this. Not only did I learn how to use a HFS+ iPod with Ubuntu, But I also learned that Amarok may be better then gtkpod. I hopefully will be able to use Songbird with my iPod. I thank you James and Alyson =)

  12. Nick said

    What would happen if I plugged my windows formatted iPod into my new Linux box?
    I just got Ubuntu last night and I still haven’t plugged my iPod into my laptop because I’m afraid it might format it. (350+ videos and 1500+ songs)

  13. Nick said

    Not sure if this SOLVES the problem, but I had the same errors with the permissions, so I just ran amarok as root “sudo amarok” and i was of course able to get the ipod working.

  14. Hello there,

    yes indeed: turning off Journaling on my iPod worked. And I am able to write and read, in Kubuntu 8.04 Beta. It’s amazing, compared with the sweat and tears I had in Ubuntu 7.10 !

    Btw. for MAC people, in order to disable journaling on your iPod, run th terminal and type:

    diskutil list

    –> This will show you a list of disks on your system, one of them is your ipod. Then look for the IDENTIFIER of your iPod, which is listed in the most right column. It will be of the form “disk1s1” or something like that. The one you are looking for is the biggest partition one on the ipod, usually the disk#s2 !

    Then, type:

    diskutil disableJournal disk#s# (NB. replace the # with the right numbers)

    …and it should tell you that it’s been successful.

    Happy ipoding !

  15. emu said


    I used to use my ipod with windows, not a mac, and I still get “read-only filesystem error” when I try to use it with ubuntu – is this also because journalling is turned on? is there any way to turn it off from windows?

  16. FADER said

    Thankyou, I am a huge podcast fan and a linux fan, this jouralling thing screw me for days!!! THANKYOU THANKYOU THANKYOU, I am so happy you have helped me. God help if this happened in WINDOWS!!!

  17. Marcelo said

    Thanks for the above post, recommending run “sudo amarok” that gave me access as usual.

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