Getting music into the iPod Shuffle

IPod shuffle
Image via Wikipedia

Sounds easy doesn’t it?  You got a nice Debian computer filled with mp3s and you got an iPod Shuffle. You want to get the mp3s onto the Shuffle, simple really!

Well, no.

I’ve got a 2nd Generation iPod Shuffle; its a little blue thing the size of a postage stamp with no screen. Specifically a model A1204.  It uses the headphone socket with a special connector to get it connected via USB.  It also steadfastly refused to play anything I transferred onto it.

gtkpod was first.  I knew I was in trouble when my model doesn’t appear in their list of supported devices. 2nd Generation Shuffles do, just not an A1204.  After a lot of fiddling around and playing with special files and firewire IDs I got a file onto it. Great, but then turning the iPod on I got the green and orange sequence of lights which means no file found.

Next, was Rhythmbox.  It is supposed to understand iPods too.  The funny thing was that it saw the music file I put on the iPod by gtkpod, but adding any file gave me the same colour sequence.  What was worse is if you tried to look at the information about the iPod, Rhythmbox crashed.

It seemed I was doomed to use iTunes on the windows computer in the living room.  A program that seems designed not to work the way I want. (It tries to load all the mp3 files from my son’s games into the iPod but ignores my music on the samba share, for starters).

I just wanted the files on the player and the player to recognise and play them.  It didn’t seem like a too hard a task, but I was stuck.  That was until I found a small (643 lines) python script called rebuild-db that builds the special iPod files with my music.  I found the file at the rebuild-db sourceforge page and it was very simple process.

Now I plug the iPod in, wait for the window to appear, push my songs onto the iPod and run the script.  It’s quick and simple and more importantly it works.  Not bad for a program that hasn’t been developed since April 2006.



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