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Linux coders hash out support for new iPods

Linux programmers say they've surmounted a new obstacle, providing Linux support for the latest-generation iPods.

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Stephen Shankland has been a reporter at CNET since 1998 and writes about processors, digital photography, AI, quantum computing, computer science, materials science, supercomputers, drones, browsers, 3D printing, USB, and new computing technology in general. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces. His first big scoop was about radioactive cat poop.
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Stephen Shankland

Programmers have bypassed a new difficulty in providing Linux support for the latest-generation iPods.

Already, iPods weren't simple to use in Linux, because Apple prefers people use iTunes to access the media players and doesn't supply a Linux version of the software. The newest iPods, though, didn't work at all, according to the iPod-minus-iTunes blog. The database that the iPod uses to keep track of songs, videos, album art and other data was encrypted in the new models, the programmers said. That means Linux music-management software such as Amarok or Rhythmbox wouldn't work.

Over the weekend, a number of programmers cracked the code, and technical instructions for using the new iPods are available. The workaround involves many technical steps, though, and many of them must be repeated each time new music is added to the iPod.

"Thanks to some inspired work by a few heroes, we've managed to work out how to get everything working again," the blog said on Monday. "Let's all hope that (if they haven't already from the iPhone unlocking) Apple learns that fighting against us is pointless. It's a waste of their time if the open-source crowd is going to get past it in just a weekend."

Apple didn't respond to requests for comment.