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By jeremy at 2006-02-27 22:34
Tame Your iPod with gtkpod
Tech Support
Written by Jeremy Garcia
Tuesday, 07 February 2006

It’s a common misconception that you need to use Apple’s iTunes to get music onto your iPod. In fact, the GTK2- based, platform-independent gtkpod application works just as well. And it looks good, too! (See Figure One.) Released under the GNU Public License (GPL), gtkpod is freely-available, and supports first- to fourth-generation iPods, as well as the iPod mini, iPod Photo, iPod shuffle, and even the iPod nano.

gtkpod has a variety of features. It can import the existing contents of your iPod (including playcounts, ratings, and on-the-go playlists). It can create and modify playlists, including smart playlists. gtkpod can also sync directories, and can browse and play files from your local hard drive, gtkpod even allows you to edit ID3 tags and normalize the volume of your tracks. gtkpod supports MP3, WAV, M4A (non-protected AAC), and M4B (audio book) audio file formats.

Although most distributions have binary packages available for gtkpod, let’s compile the application from source, since many of the “canned” packages don’t include M4A support. gtkpod requires the gtk2, libid3tag, and mpeg4ip libraries. The faad2-devel package from most distributions should satisfy the latter requirement.

Download the source for gtkpod from, unpack it, and use the simple, normal ./configure&&make&&make install procedure. After ./configure, make sure that M4A is enabled. (In many distributions, faad2 seems to be broken. If you notice errors, you may need to manually define HAVE_LIBMP4V2 in config.h after you run configure. If you don’t need or want M4A support, try your distribution’s own gtkpod.)

Now that you have gtkpod installed, it’s time to get some music onto your iPod. Plug in the device and verify that you can mount and access your iPod. Most distributions handle the device automatically. Next, start gtkpod. You can import the information stored on your iPod by clicking the Read button. If you have trouble accessing your iPod, make sure that iPod mount point is correct under the “Edit& gt; Preferences& gt; General” menu option. Once your iPod’s music database is imported, you can listen to songs, make playlists, and more.

To get familiar with gtkpod, run through all of its preferences once to get a good feel for how things are setup. (See Figure Two.) You can tell gtkpod to automatically handle mounting and unmounting, for instance.

To add music to your iPod, add files or directories using the buttons in the gtkpod toolbar. The directory button can add directories recursively, so if you store all of your MP3 files in a single folder with a sub-folder for each artist, say, you can easily add everything in one quick step.

Once you’ve selected everything to add, just click the Sync button. If you’ve configured gtkpod to automatically handle mounting, when you close the application, you can safely disconnect your iPod.

Unfortunately, gtkpod isn’t a music store. You must purchase your music online elsewhere or use a program like grip to convert your existing CD collection into MP3 files. But as long as you have an alternative source for music files, gtkpod should be all you need to keep your iPod and your ears satisfied.

gtkpod also recently added podcast support. has a podcast available at LQ Radio.

Rock on!


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