Rocking Rockbox 10.08.2007

Well, that was interesting.

On a whim earlier today, I installed Rockbox on my 5.5 generation iPod Video 60gb. Its promises of a true customizable 5-band equalizer, headphone crossfeeding, and more accurate volume normalization proved1 too hard to resist.

The installation procedure was dead simple, although there was a minor glitch in that the automated installation program (written in QT no less!) failed the second step of the automated two step procedure. And in that light, I suppose it isn’t so minor. I only call it minor now because the second step was a simple one, and easy to figure out.

But the bootloader was correct written, and all the files were correctly copied, and off I went to the main menu.

Main Menu

Some may call its austerity a breath of fresh air. Some may call it an elegant use of negative space. Some might call it clean. Some, still, might call it Zen-like.

I call it ugly. I call it incredibly ugly.

Moving past that main menu with a substantial amount of trepidation, I set the Rockbox theme to one called A Link to the Past, because Zelda is awesome, and there was no better Zelda game than A Link to the Past.

And so, with the theme applied, my fears slightly allayed, I proceeded to play a song.

Song

Hey, not bad!

Except the volume indicator didn’t work. And the battery indicator didn’t work. And instead of Led Zeppelin, I got a bunch of dotted squares because the character set used by Rockbox wouldn’t recognize Chinese characters.

But hey, Zelda’s awesome. And the iPod in place of the Master Sword is more awesome still.

It is at this point that I was faced with a fork in a road, twin paths leading to rapid fandom and countless internet flame wars. Should I play and browse songs through a directory tree, or should I play and browse songs through a meta-data enriched database?

As it turns out, neither. It was also about this point that I noticed that the battery indicator was working, and that it showed 75%.

I’d previously thought it wasn’t working because it showed 80% on a fully charged ipod.

Apparently, the battery life on Rockbox enabled iPods is spectacularly dismal. And seeing as I use the iPod on my commute to and from work, battery is important. Very important.

Within ten minutes, the original Apple bootloader was active again, and I was basking in all the iPod’s Pixo-derived glory.


  1. Temporarily, which happens a lot these days. I used Thunderbird for a brief while, for example, before pining for Mail.app, and switching back. I used NewsFire for a while, as another example, before pining for NetNewsWire and switching back.