From wikiPodLinux

Installing Linux onto your iPod is a non-destructive process and will leave all your existing configuration and music intact. The included bootloader will also allow you to choose either the Apple or the Linux software when you reboot (reset) your iPod.

Before installing iPodLinux, make sure your iPod is supported! If you try to install Linux on any of the unsupported iPods, there's a much higher chance of error or unworkability; tread carefully, and don't come crying to us when you think your iPod is broken. (It's not.)

Table of contents

1 Overview

2 What if something goes wrong?
3 Installation Methods

Computer Connection

In order to install Linux on your iPod you first need to make sure your system is configured to connect to your iPod. If you are using Mac OS X, it is most likely already configured. If you are using Windows, make sure iTunes lets your iPod show up as a disk drive in My Computer.

Disk Mode

Connect the iPod to your computer and make sure it shows Do not disconnect on the iPod's screen. This is called Disk mode. The iPod should enter Disk mode automatically once connected. If it does not, for 1-3G iPods you can force it to enter disk mode by rebooting your iPod (hold down menu and play/pause for a few seconds (until the screen blanks out), and then quickly hold down rewind and fast forward). For later generation iPods, you can enter disk mode by holding down menu and select for about 5 seconds and then switch quickly to select and play/pause once the screen display changes.



iPodLinux consists of several components, some of which are currently being migrated from their original versions to second generation versions. Here is a overview of the components involved:

  • The Boot Loader. There is the original version which silently boots either the Apple firmware or Linux, choosing the other by pressing the Rewind key at startup. There is also a new version 2 which offers a menu with many more options, including support for Rockbox loading.
  • The Kernel. There is mainly one version that hasn't been changed in a while, which is stored in CVS and which you can download as a prebuilt file. There is, however, a side project on an improved kernel, which you may alternatively install once you have had success with the default kernel.
  • The Userland is a set of files and folders providing the basic functionality to using Linux on the iPod. It contains a shell, the /etc/rc startup file, among others. The default shell may be sash, a very dumb shell. You might want to install the Minix shell as a replacement.
  • Podzilla is the main user application for iPodLinux, being similar to what you use on a Apple-driven iPod: You get a graphical menu from which you can launch tools, change settings, browse music etc. There exists the original monolithic podzilla, which only supports older iPod models, and the new modular podzilla 2, which supports all current iPod models and allows adding new modules easily.


Linux needs a file system that supports Unix-style permissions.

WinPods use the FAT32 format, which is not adequate for Linux. Therefore, you need to add another partition, e.g. ext2, to install Linux on. This may require that you reformat your iPod, losing all your stored data on it. Make sure you have a backup of your iPod files before installing iPodLinux on it. The easiest way to add a ext2 partition to your WinPod is to use Installer 2, which takes care of the partitioning for you.

MacPods, on the other hand, use the HFS+ format, which Linux can be run from. Hence, you can simply store the Linux files on a MacPod from a Mac OS computer by copying them using the Finder or the cp in a command shell. You may have to use chmod +x on select files (/etc/rc and /sbin/* after the copying to make them executable.

Recommended Installation Procedures

There are several methods for installing iPodLinux. Here is a brief list of your options:

  • Using the new Installer 2 is probably the easiest solution to get a quick start. It is currently only available for Windows and Linux, not Mac OS X, though. Also note that it's still in development, and may not fully work in all corners yet. It is a good idea to use a "fresh" iPod, meaning that if you have already done any kind of modification to your iPod and the installer isn't working for you, you should go here: and get the restore/upgrade software and use it to return your iPod to a workable state.
  • Mac OS X users should try the new Mac Installer. That one is still under development as well, though.
  • If you had success with the basic installation, you can switch to using the latest Loader 2 with the Installer. You can also do it by hand with the manual installation instructions.
  • Note: Before installation, make sure that the path to your installer contains ONLY English letters. Otherwise, for instance, if you have Russian letters, installation will end with an error

Starting iPodLinux (and Apple's)

Eject (or unmount) your iPod from your PC, then reboot the iPod using the Key Combinations if it doesn't reboot by itself after the installation already.

Important: When you had connected your iPod to your PC, do not reboot the iPod while it says do not disconnect, because that might have the bad effect that the modifications you made to the iPod get partially lost. Make sure you eject the iPod so that it says ready to disconnect before you reboot it!

When the iPod restarts, it'll show first the usual picture of an apple, then it should either:

  • Show a picture of the original happy Mac, and after another few seconds should be back in the normal Apple software.
  • Show a picture of a penguin, after which it will boot into Linux.
  • Show a menu with choices such as Apple OS and iPodLinux.

In the first two cases, you have the original loader installed - hold down the << (rewind) key after a reboot and before either the Mac or the penguin picture appears to have the alternative software loaded.

In the latter case, you have Loader 2 installed. Use the << and >> keys to select an item from the menu and press the center button to select it.

If you chose to boot into Linux, podzilla should start. It may show a few messages which you have to dismiss with the center button, and then you have a menu interface similar to that of the original Apple software.

Now you are ready to explore iPodLinux. See the Documentation page for further pointers.

Note that if you have a WinPod, you'll not be able to see the newly installed Linux files from your Windows PC. See Accessing ext2 to learn how to access those linux files and folders.

If you want to copy new items to the iPod, you'll have to get it into disk mode again, just like before. iPodLinux does not offer its own disk mode - you have to reboot it into Apple's software for that.

What if something goes wrong?

Be sure to have a backup of your music before installing iPodLinux (while Installer 2 offers to make a backup for you, that does not include your files on the iPod but only Apple's iPod firmware)! If anything goes wrong, you can always use Apple's handy Firmware Restore Utility ( to reinstall Apple's iPod operating system (called firmware). This will remove iPodLinux and make your iPod work the same way it did when you bought it. If you follow the directions exactly, the worst case scenario is to lose your music and settings.

If you attempt to install iPodLinux on an unsupported iPod it is possible that the Apple restore utility will not be able to restore your iPod. In this case follow the instructions on the troubleshooting page.

Installation Methods


See also


Do not ask the iPodLinux team for help with these, as they are not involved in the following projects. For support, contact the author/distributor of these builds. There are many topics posted regarding these subjects on the forum, however.

4G - iPod with Click Wheel

iPod Nano

5G - iPod Video

All WinPod models

Personal tools