Warning-"New iPods will no longer be able to work with Linux

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Warning-"New iPods will no longer be able to work with Linux

Postby nick on Sat Sep 15, 2007 4:11 am

Hi
Apple cuts us off
So, it's finally happened. Unhappy with other media players being better than iTunes, Apple have apparently decided to stop them from working with the new range of iPods.

Who does this affect?

This affects Linux users - there's no iTunes for Linux, so popular Linux iPod management tools like gtkpod and Rhythmbox will not work with the new range of iPods.

Windows users who just plain don't like iTunes and perfer an alternative like Winamp, Ephpod or many of the other iPod management applications out there.

How?

The iPod keeps track of the songs and playlists in your iPod with a database file - the iTunesDB, found in the iPod_Control/iTunes/ hidden folder on the iPod.

Back in the early days of the iPod, the format of this file was quickly reverse-engineered by people who wanted to use iPods without iTunes. This was more important back then because iTunes only existed on the Mac, so Windows users were stuck with Real Player (which was just awful), and Linux users had exactly nothing.

The format of this file has evolved over the years as the iPod added support for video, podcasts, album artwork, smart playlists etcetera. The basic structure of the file has always remained the same, so these changes were easy enough for us to work out and keep up to date with.

With the release of the new range of iPods - the new Nano, the iPod Classic and the iPod Touch, we were expecting more of the same - a few tweaks here and there and everything would be fine. No so.

At the very start of the database, a couple of what appear to be SHA1 hashes have been inserted which appear to lock the iTunes database to one particular iPod and prevent any modification of the database file. If you try to do either of these, the hashes will not match and the iPod will report that it contains "0 songs" when the iTunesDB would otherwise be perfectly adequate.

Can't you get around this?

Well, maybe. We really need people who are excellent at reverse engineering to help.

This is what we know so far about the start of the iTunesDB file:
MHBD header:
0x00 4 mhbd
0x04 4 header size = 0xBC (changed)
0x08 4 filesize
0x0C 4 unknown = 1
0x10 4 version number = 0x19 (changed)
0x14 4 child count = 0x05 (changed)
0x18 8 itunes databaseid
0x20 2 unknown = 2
0x22 2 unknown = 0x0263 (changed, 0x0000 before)
0x24 8 ipod identification? (changed)
0x2C 4 zero padding
0x30 2 unknown = 1
0x32 20 unknown, changing completely from itdb to itdb
0x46 2 language, seen: de, en
0x48 8 library persistent id
0x50 4 unknown, seen: 1, 5
0x54 4 unknown, seen: 0x08, 0x0D, 0x1D, 0x4D, 0x8D
0x58 20 unknown some similarities between versions
0x6C 4 timezone offset in seconds. +2*60*60 -> 0x00001C20, -4*60*60 = 0xFFFFC7C0 (really?)
0x70 76 zero padding 0x00000000
0x32 is most likely a SHA1 hash, and 0x58 also could be.

The question is, could you help? Hop along to freenode #gtkpod if you have some serious technical expertise in this kind of thing and are able to obtain a new iPod Classic or Nano.

Apparantly an update will cause same problems:

Complaints here:

http://www.apple.com/feedback/ipod.html

Nick
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Postby calumc on Sat Sep 15, 2007 7:39 am

Or we could just all switch to rockbox, its a hell of a lot better anyways
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Postby nelamvr6 on Sat Sep 15, 2007 4:22 pm

calumc wrote:Or we could just all switch to rockbox, its a hell of a lot better anyways


No RockBox for the new iPods yet, and the RockBox guys don't sound too encouraging...
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Postby allforcarrie on Sat Sep 15, 2007 6:08 pm

there is no way i'm installing rockbox on my video ipod. i have an ipod becuse i like the interface. If i cnat use it on linux so be it, i'll go back to a windows partition.
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Postby alexander on Sat Sep 15, 2007 11:31 pm

I personally find all the linux alternatives to iTunes as far as looking after an iPod is concerned to be severely lacking.
Thus virtualbox + tinyXP + iTunes is what I use.

In future I won't be buying apple products again. The sandisk players are much prettier anyway.
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Postby clem on Mon Sep 17, 2007 7:48 am

I've got a 30GB Video iPod (5.5 generation). It works perfectly with Rockbox, I've even themed it to make it look like it's running some sort of Linux Mint Embedded Edition :)

It's only a matter of time before people manage to crack the Apple firmware algorithm AND before rockbox supports the new hardware. I wouldn't worry about it, but yes.. as some people mentioned, when a company is making so much efforts into locking you down, you should make at least as much efforts to make people avoid them at all costs.

Clem
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Postby Sorensei on Mon Sep 17, 2007 10:21 am

Well, it appears Clem's optimism is warranted, as it's no longer an issue:

http://www.backdot.com/?p=50

:twisted: :twisted: :twisted:
I don't have a solution, but I do admire the problem.
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Postby alexander on Tue Sep 18, 2007 7:02 pm

Sorensei wrote:Well, it appears Clem's optimism is warranted, as it's no longer an issue:

http://www.backdot.com/?p=50

:twisted: :twisted: :twisted:


rofl, suck on that apple.
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Postby LostOverThere on Wed Sep 19, 2007 3:13 am

Yeah, how many of us read the topic title and thought "It'll only be a matter of time before the hackers get into it"? :lol:
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Postby calumc on Wed Sep 19, 2007 5:36 pm

*raises hand*
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Postby sanguinemoon on Mon Oct 22, 2007 6:41 pm

Yeah. I'm not sure why they even bother...
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Postby Lowkey on Tue Oct 23, 2007 7:22 am

They have alot to loose and they are scared whats happening to Microsoft will happen to them. Ive got my box linked to my PS3 with Mythtv and from that to my PSP. Their IPhone did look like a replacement to my Axim x5 but they can keep their products. If it doesnt work with Linux, Im not buying.
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Re: Warning-"New iPods will no longer be able to work with Linux

Postby molom on Thu Dec 06, 2007 7:29 am

I left my ipod. Never used it and I never liked it. But whenever I need one, I would use an Archos, a Creative Vision or a Meizu, but not an iPod (The battery is unreplacable in a user friendly way and I found it to lack many features) WHY DON'T IPODS PLAY DIVX OR XVID!!! I DON'T GET IT.
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