Hacking the iPod

Recently there has been a lot of talk about people hacking the iPhone and the new iPod Touch, it came as a surprise to some that there are people brave enough to do this but its really not a new endeavor. Well before the iPod touch there was the original iPod, which was also hacked to many degrees. Any iPod, ranging from the very first version up to the 5.5th generation iPod video could be hacked multiple ways. There were, and still are, two major hacks that can easily run on these iPods. Those hacks aren’t actually hacks but rather unofficial firmware for your iPod. The two main firmware systems are: iPod Linux, and Rockbox.

We’ll begin with iPod Linux, which functions nearly the same as Linux would on a computer, but is designed specifically to run on the iPod. Through iPod Linux users are capable of the same video and audio playback they expect from their iPod, but with added support for different encoding types. Another popular addition through iPod Linux is the ability to play games such as Doom and Doom II as well as Gameboy and even NES games. iPod Linux is only compatible with 1st-5th generation iPods as well as the iPod Mini, iPod Photo, and the first iPod Nano. Installation is fairly easy, simply connect the iPod to your computer and run the iPod Linux installer. It will install all the files necessary and properly configure everything on your iPod.

Rockbox is another of the most popular iPod firmware hacks. Unlike iPod Linux, Rockbox was created for many different types of mp3 players. Rockbox was created to add playback support as well as make many mp3 players more customizable. Rockbox adds the ability to play many different formats of music, and thus takes away some restrictions put on mp3 players by their manufacturers. Rockbox works on the same iPods as iPod Linux, but it will also run on various iriver, SanDisk, and other media players. The primary goal of Rockbox is to give the user more choices in display, and through the use of thousands of user created themes nearly any look can be achieved. Custom themes are easy to install or create, so everyone can have their own style iPod. Installing Rockbox is also quite simple, all you do is either run the install file, or copy and paste a set of files onto your media player. The rest of the setup is automated!

Both of these firmware hacks provide their own benefits and downfalls, such as battery life but thousands of people still use them. The ability to change what the iPod display looks like is one of the biggest reasons for these firmware hacks. Probably the biggest downfall is product safety. It is nearly impossible to damage or destroy an iPod with these hacks, but it can happen and if it does your warranty is most likely void. So next time you see a story about hacking the newest iPod, don’t feel left out because odds are you can hack your older iPod too!

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