[Guide] How to get your IPOD (and other media devices) work with Amarok 2 [Update]

First I want to thank all people who helped me (through comments, the ubuntuusers.de Community or hints on IRC or identi.ca/twitter) to improve this article and those who will do that at any later time.

Note: Because the way how Amarok deals with media devices is generally the same for every kind of supported device, you can skip the IPOD-only stuff here and just try the „6-Step“  guide below. The steps are the same for other devices. Please understand that I focus on the IPOD here, and that I can’t write as much about other devices. Maybe I will improve the Guide with these information in the next months. For further questions about other devices and their support state, use the ways, the links at the end of this article will provide.

As some of you may know, I’m a frequent Amarok user and try to contribute as much as I can for that project. Hanging around in the project’s IRC channel #amarok on Freenode brings some problems to my eyes which are asked very often. One of that is a question like  „How can I manage my IPOD in Amarok 2“ and similar questions with the same topic.

Since I am an IPOD user too (lemme say that I would never ever buy an apple device again ;-)) I noticed that most of these questions result from two things:

  1. It’s not well documented how Amarok 2 plays together with IPODs. (Which might become better, when I finish this article)
  2. Most users seem to believe that some extra configuring or clicking is needed to set up the IPOD. As some of you remember, in Amarok 1.4 there was a separate configuration window for media devices, which is not there anymore in Amarok 2. Thus, the existing guides which only discuss the IPOD stuff for Amarok 1.4, are not usable anymore. If one does not see such a Menu/Box/Configuring dialogue, he might  think there was something wrong by default and so he comes to IRC and asks around. They simply don’t believe that the whole thing should work out of the box.

For that reason I decided to write a simple guide to help those people with a single link instead of giving the same explanations all the time.

Starting requirements:

  • Amarok 2 (either an official binary release from your distro, or compiled from sources, but then you have to ensure that libgpod is recognised by cmake. Cmake will tell you that at the end of configuring)
  • latest libgpod (either binary or compiled from source. Sources can be found at the Gtkpod project
  • One of the IPODs that are supported by libgpod. (see next chapter)

There may be Issues which are not Amarok or libgpod related which I can’t discuss here. Though I think it’s recommended to try this guide first to see if it works. If it fails, you could have a look at the end of the article where I put some links.

Supported Devices [2010-01-07]

A lot of various IPOD models are supported by libgpod, and so they are in Amarok. I am not completely sure but As far as I know every IPOD which is using mass storage for its content will work fine, except from the buttonless „Shuffle“ variants in their 3rd and 4th generation. A bit different are the „IPOD touch“- and „iPhone“ devices which are in general (not completely yet) supported by libgpod, though amarok will have problems with them.

The iPhone / IPOD touch issue

Although libgpod (at least from GIT) works with those devices (not perfectly yet, but usable) amarok will have Problems to see them.
To be displayed inside of amarok, every device needs to be recognised by Solid which currently doesn’t see the iPhone or IPOD touch. Unfortunately there is no other way to tell amarok manually that there is a device plugged in. These information I got from „marcan“ on IRC. However, according to Christophe Fergeau („teuf“), that might not be fully correct:

Teuf: there’s an iphone OS collection which seems to detect iphones ok, so it’s misleading to say solid doesn’t detect the iphone imo. Maybe it’s the ifuse mount it can’t detect

As soon as I will get any further information about that issue, I will certainly write it down here.

As a workaround you can use Gtkpod, which is also a great IPOD managing program  to manage your touch device, since these devices should be usable with it.

Here is what you have to do to get your IPOD (or other device) rediscovering your music:

  1. Plug in your IPOD
  2. Mount your IPOD
  3. Have a look at Amarok’s collection Browser. The IPOD should immediately appear in there, like on that Picture:
    Collection View with IPOD

    Collection view with IPOD

    It might be that Amarok doesn’t see a correct DB on the IPOD (dunno why that happens sometimes) and it will create a new one. If that happens it would be good to empty the IPOD using a file browser to avoid messing up the device. As an alternative you can right-click on the IPOD in the collection view and „Search for old and orphaned Tracks“ which will show up in the new DB and you can delete them.

    Orphaned Tracks on IPOD

    Find Orphaned Tracks

  4. Search a Song, an album or a whole artist from your „local collection“ which you want to have on the IPOD and do a right-click on it:

    Copy to collection

    The "copy to collection" dialogue

  5. Select the above-shown option „copy to collection“ –> IPOD from the list and see the Sons being transferred onto the device. Look at the progress bar:

    Progress bar - click to enlarge

  6. Once transferred your songs the only thing you have to do is to unmount your IPOD (may take some time until the syncing wheel on the display disappears) and enjoy  your Music.

To delete songs you just have to right-click them on the IPOD in the collection view and choose „delete“.

That should be enough to get the basic function from your IPOD. There is way of improvement needed but as my own programming skills are very low-level I can hardly do something myself at the moment. Amarok’s IPOD dev Alejandro (XEVIX) is very busy and so we have to wait either for him to get more free time which he wants to spend with Amarok, or for me to get better in programming (what should happen in the next months) or for an other guy who hacks that stuff into Git.

What is not working with the IPOD?

As far as I can say (Amarok 2.2.1 stable) the following is not working yet:

  • Rating Sync from IPOD to Amarok. (The other way round works)
  • Transferring Playlists from Amarok to IPOD and vice versa. (important thing)
  • Last.fm scrobbling of played songs if the IPOD appears on Amarok (my „most wished feature“ ;-))
  • Native podcast transferring (You can copy Podcasts onto the IPOD if you download it with amarok and transfer it from the built-in file browser in Amarok, the same way we did it above. (Downloaded Podcasts are stored in ~/.kde/share/apps/amarok/podcasts)
    Currently there is a patch for that available which was committed to GIT after the 2.2.2 feature freeze. Therefore it will not be in 2.2.2 stable. You can apply the patch manually and compile amarok from sources. There is an other solution on the way, which will fix the issue the right way. Bart Cerneels is working on that. If that solution is ready before 2.2.3 feature freeze, we will most likely get native podcast support with 2.2.3 which should come up around the beginning of march 2010.
  • Picture, Video, Audio Books (don’t miss those features)
  • Compilation support (figuring out how that works, maybe I could fix that soon)
  • Play count syncing with amarok (don’t even know if that is possible)
  • IPOD Touch/iPhone: Support depends on the  development of libgpod, don’t know whats the state and I don’t even care 😉 Support for these device is given by libgpod but there is an issue which makes them not usable in amarok. I described that issue above.

My IPOD still doesn’t work, what to do?

As I wrote above, there may be Issues which are not Amarok or libgpod related which I can’t discuss here. (e.g. might there be problems with a hfs+ formatted IPOD (Apple file system) For such general issues have a look at those links. If anyone has other good related links, please tell me.

  • For the Ubuntu/Debian people a few good articles around basic IPOD Linux setup can be found at the (German) Ubuntuusers.de – Wiki.
  • Here is the official Ubuntu Wiki with their mobile devices section.

Last but not least there are still some other good places to get help for Amarok

  • The awesome amarok IRC channel: Click to start Web chat!
  • The great German amarok IRC channel: Click to start Web chat!
  • The famous Amarok identi.ca group: !Amarok
  • The incredibly helpful Amarok Forum (multi-language)
  • The fantastic multi-language amarok wiki, where the also fantastic, but not „Amarok 2“-fitting IPOD article needs a rewrite.
  • Our friend Google, to find the various forums, mailing lists and blogs, where you can find helpful entries for amarok.

I hope my small guide will help some of you. And please don’t forget to give me improvement tips.

Now go and rediscover YOUR Music with Amarok 2!


35 Antworten to “[Guide] How to get your IPOD (and other media devices) work with Amarok 2 [Update]”

  1. Ah, OK, native podcast transferring doesn’t work for you, too. I thought that I was too stupid to find the right button.
    A better podcast handling is the only missing feature in 2.2.1 that I would like to have back from 1.4. So for my podcast needs I use gpodder, but for everything else Amarok is really nice.

  2. Hi, I don’t see in your list of unsupported feature Playlists transferring..does that mean that it is already implemented and working in development version? Because with amarok 2.2.1 I wasn’t able to figure out how to manage ipod’s playlists.
    Or maybe with „Compilaion support“ you meant exactly that?
    Anyway, thank you for the tutorial!

    • You’re right, I forgot to mention that Playlist transferring does not work, too. Thanks for the hint, I will add that. With Compilations I mean albums from Various Artists.

  3. Hi. Amarok 2.3 Beta ( support my iPhone 3G with 3.1 fw…

    It haase some issuse… like cannot delete songs which were writen by amarok (it can delete songs written by gtkpod), cannot add/remove playlist, or add/remove songs to/from playlist…

  4. mlitty Says:

    Given the info above, Amarok can’t claim ipod support, but they do (http://amarok.kde.org/wiki/Media_Device:IPod), even using an image of one on the pge.
    At best this is a half-hack to bandage a crippled software. For a „music player and manager“ not to have playlist support for the ipod at this point in the evolution of the program seems ridiculous. I’m not an apple fan. This arguably is THE most popular media device on the planet. Amarok can’t remove songs it adds, can’t create edit or delete playlists, doesn’t do picture and video, doesn’t sync ratings . . . etc. Yet you assert, „That should be enough to get the basic function from your IPOD.“ Really!? You don’t consider playlist handling a basic function of a media player?

    gtkpod is open-source and does all of the ipod handling well. That’s all it does, so I’m not claiming it’s over-all „better“ than Amarok, but how is it that Amarok is so far behind in such a high-demand feature?

    • depeha Says:

      Amarok 2.3.1 can sync videos, ratings and remove any song. To sync photos you can use Gwenview or Digikam. So now, only thing amarok can’t do is syncing playlists.

    • Did you read the article? Adding and removing songs is imho the most important thing for a media device. And as youself mention in your comment, For a full support anyone can still use gtkpod. I wrote that in the article, too.

      Amarok will become better, trust in it.

  5. aldebarab Says:

    Hallo all,

    I am using debian squeeze (stable) with kde 4.5.3 from
    http://qt-kde.debian.net/ and amarok 2.4 from squeeze backports (http://backports.debian.org/).

    As written above I could mount an ipod touch 3G with ifuse and synchronize with gtkpod.

    Amarok 2.4 at first didn’t recognize the ipod as well as kde solid (no entry under KDE System Control -> Hardware -> external media).

    Then I found http://forum.kde.org/viewtopic.php?f=115&t=84307&start=15 where a guy using Ubuntu Maverick had the same Problem.

    The solution was to revert the maverick libraries back to libimobiledevice.so.0.9.7 and libmtp.so.8.3.2 from ubuntu lucid.

    I did the same thing, just replaced the debian squeeze libraries
    libmtp.so.8.3.3 and libimobiledevice.so.1.0.2 with the above libraries from http://packages.ubuntu.com/lucid/i386/libimobiledevice0/download and copied the file /usr/share/hal/fdi/information/20thirdparty/31-apple-mobile-device.fdi from libmtp8_1.0.2-1ubuntu1_i386.deb and voila: amarok recognizes the ipod touch.

    BUT: kde solid still is not aware of the ipod touch. The device does not show up under external media.

    So there is something broken with the above libraries and Amarok does not seem to use kde solid for the detection of ipod touch devices!

    I hope this clarifies some of the above mentioned issues

    Cheers ari

    • aldebarab Says:

      As it turns out, Amarok recognizes ipod touch 3G device in debian squeeze WITHOUT replacing the original libraries from squeeze mentioned above.

      It’s only necessary
      – to copy the attached HAL information file (shamelessly stolen from Ubuntu Lucid) to /usr/share/hal/fdi/information/20thirdparty/31-apple-mobile-device.fdi,
      – to logout from KDE,
      – to restart HAL and
      – login again into kde.

      Strange thing is:

      If Amarok first is started and afterwards the ipod touch is plugged in, the devices will show up twice in amarok.

      If the device is plugged in first and amarok started afterwards the device will show up only once

      Hope this helps, sorry for the noise in my last posting


      contents of 31-apple-mobile-device.fdi:

      =============== schnipp ============


  6. Hi, I don’t see in your list of unsupported feature Playlists transferring..does that mean that it is already implemented and working in development version? Because with amarok 2.2.1 I wasn’t able to figure out how to manage ipod’s playlists.
    Or maybe with „Compilaion support“ you meant exactly that?
    Anyway, thank you for the tutorial!

  7. iPod Shuffle Manual Says:

    my ipod shuffle becomes unresponsive, I cant turn it off! I Can only somehow control my ipod with the remote on my headphones… is there a soulution ?

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  9. Hello, thanks for this tip. I just finally get rid of any windows at home. But I face now the music and ipod manager problem. My main feature request is to sync tracks ratings in BOTH ways. Rhythmbox does not.
    You say here Amarok 2.2.1 does not either. Do you know if Amarok 2.5.0 does ?
    I tried to figure that out on amarok web site and kde bug trakking…. but failed to retrieve such information :o$

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