iPod Classic running Rockbox with the iMMXX theme © Chris Collins, 2023

Why install Rockbox, and what is it?

Breathing new life into an old iPod Classic with Rockbox is a great way to give your old device a new lease on life. Rockbox is an open-source firmware replacement for portable media players that provides a wide range of enhancements and additional features. It can be installed on the iPod classic and other older iPod models, allowing you to enjoy a more modern and customizable user experience.

With Rockbox, you can customize the look and feel of your iPod, as well as add features such as support for new audio formats, advanced playback controls, and more. It's a great way to keep an old device running smoothly and extend its lifespan.

A massive benefit of Rockbox is removing the need to rely on iTunes. We can use standard methods to add music to our devices, such as drag and drop, which can provide more control over what is synced and how it is synced. Additionally, not having to rely on iTunes can free you from the need to have iTunes installed entirely, allowing you to add music to your iPod using any computer, regardless of whether it has iTunes or other software installed.

I believe Rockbox is a must for keeping these incredible devices alive and giving them a new lease on life.

iPod Classic running Rockbox with the iMMXX theme © Chris Collins, 2023

Syncing media with rsync

rsync (short for "remote sync") is a command line utility that allows you to efficiently synchronize files and directories between two locations. It is commonly used to back up files from one location to another, or to synchronize files between a local machine and a remote server. In our case, our local music library and the hard drive on the iPod Classic.

One of the main advantages of rsync is that it only transfers the differences between the files, rather than transferring the entire file each time. This means that it is much faster and more efficient than other methods of file transfer, especially when dealing with large files or large numbers of files.

I use one command to move all of my music library from my computer onto the iPod without dragging and dropping.

rsync -avu "/Users/USERNAME/Music/Collection/" "/Volumes/IPOD/Music" --progress

The initial run takes time but subsequent runs only syncs the files that have changed or that have been added. It's an efficent way to make sure both folders stay in sync without having to manually manage both.

Overall, I'd highly recommend anyone with an old iPod Classic to give Rockbox a go. I think you'll be pleasently surprised.

© Chris Collins, 2023