Introduction: Install RockBox on an IPod (easy Steps)

Picture of Install RockBox on an IPod (easy Steps)

This instructable i am going to show you how to install RockBox, an open-source operating system for iPod!

First things first:

Installing RockBox will void your warranty. Also I am not responsible for any damage and/or data loss done installing RockBox on your iPod.

Proceed at your own risk.

Ok now thats over with heres what you need.

-an iPod
it can be a nano 1st gen, ipod 1g,2g,3g,4g or 5g but not classic.

(if you dont have a clue which iPod you own have a look at this.

-The .rockbox build. get the appropriate one for your iPod here:

- ipodpatcher: this handy little program will patch the bootloader on your iPod so that it can load rockbox properly. get it here :

EXTRA: To enhance RockBox you can get extra fonts get them here

To run the game plugin "Doom" you'll need a base WAD

get it here :

That's it. Your all set.

Make sure to view the pictures and screenshots in high res

Step 1: Extracting

Picture of Extracting

Find the zip folder where you downloaded the zip for your .rockbox build.

If you haven't got one yet get the right one for your iPod here:

(Make sure you get the right one. Don't get the 30gb video and 60/80gb videos builds mixed up)

Extract the '.rockbox' folder from the zip to the root directory of you iPod's drive. (the root directory is the main directory of your disk. e.g E:)

If your iPod isn't showing up in my computer, it is because you haven't enabled disk use

You can do that by following these steps:

Now we can move on to the next step.

Step 2: Patching the Bootloader.

Picture of Patching the Bootloader.

This part looks scary but isn't.

All you need to do is connect your iPod and open ipodpatcher

(available here: )

Once again I am not responsible for any damage, and/or data loss.

Proceed at your own risk.

It will show a black window with white text. If you have plugged in a supported iPod it will display some info about the iPod and ask you to enter i to install and u to uninstall.

type i and press enter

If all goes well this process should take about 10-20 seconds.

Step 3: Testing It Out.

Picture of Testing It Out.

Now for the fun part.

Now all you have to do is disconnect your iPod.

To reboot Press and hold menu+select (center button) for 6 seconds. Your iPod will show the Apple logo and then will show a RockBox screen. If you get back to the original iPod operating system reboot again without hold on.

Note: to boot into the Apple firmware (the original operating system) as soon as you see the Apple logo on the iPod's screen flick the hold switch on.

Also note: if you are using an iPod 1g,2g or 3g you will need to press and hold Play/pause+menu to reboot.

If you get an error and cant get to either operating system (apple or rockbox) and/or are shown a folder with an exclamation mark, you will need to boot into disk mode and restore your iPod.
Instructions on that here:

Step 4: Tweaking

These are some settings i have enabled to make the iPod last longer on a charge and to reduce the number of hard drive spin-ups required using RockBox.

settings>general settings> playback settings>Anti-skip buffer> set it to 10 mins or max

settings>general settings> database>load to ram>yes

settings>general settings> system>disk>Directory cahe>yes

These help the iPod to optimize it's ram and to buffer more efficiently.

(these settings aren't necessary too complete the installation)

Step 5: Extras

Picture of Extras

Adding a base Doom Wad, icons, fonts.

To add the font package:

Go to the zip file that you downloaded before.

Enter the zip file and go into the .rockbox folder and then extract the fonts folder to the .rockbox directory on your iPod that you installed before. Overwrite them.

To play the doom game you need to install the base wad. Get it here. Remember!

Extract the doom folder in the zip file to the .rockbox directory of your iPod (this is getting very repetitive isn't it)

To play doom go to the main rockbox screen and click plugins>games>doom>start game

for more info on using RockBox have a look at the manual.

I hope this tutorial has helped you in some way!

Happy RockBoxing! Enjoy the open-source jukebox firmware.

I would like to thank the RockBox team for making such an awesome piece of software!

Step 6: Uninstallation

If for some reason you are unsatisfied with RockBox, I will show you how to uninstall it from your iPod.

First, plug in your iPod to computer.

Load up ipodpatcher.exe

Enter U

ipodpatcher will take about 10-20 seconds and after it is done the bootloader of your iPod will be back the same way it was before the installation. (you cannot load rockbox anymore)

Navigate to the root directory of your iPod (the place where you put the .rockbox folder. usually E:\)

Delete .rockbox

Your done! your iPod no longer has RockBox.


ronaldf14 (author)2016-04-07

is there a rockbox version for Ipod nano 3rd gen???

WXB (author)2015-08-08

The Apple support link for identifying your iPod incorrectly includes a right parenthesis at the end and returns an HTTP 404 Not Found status code. You can delete the paren to get it to work or use this URL that the old link redirects to:

demango (author)2011-08-27

Wait. I have a Nano 4g, and RockBox only has the Nano 1g and 2g downloads. What do I get?

tin701 (author)demango2011-08-28

Nano 4g's are unsupported for rockbox I regret to say.

Sparkythehappygirafe (author)2009-04-14

Rockbox won't damage my ipod will it? Cause i'd rather not destroy my ipod. . .

Rockbox is safe to use and there hasnt been any reports of an iPod rendered useless by rockbox. But still use caution. And what iPod do you have?

mgikhnds (author)tin7012009-12-31

Hey guys,

Rockbox is sooooo cool.  I installed it and everything was fine.  Then I did something really stupid and copied over the contents of a new theme to the Ipod replacing the originals. 

I suspect this is not the way you're supposed to install themes, and now my Ipod won't boot up, even when pressing Menu+Play to hard reboot it.  I have a 1st Gen Nano.

My computer does not recognise it when I plug it in the USB port, have I completely screwed it?

Take it easy guys keep up the good work.

tin701 (author)mgikhnds2009-12-31

 No, i doubt you've screwed it :)

Just do a hard reboot and as soon as you see the apple logo, press and hold play/pause and the centre button.

Then it should come up in disk mode, then you can plug it in and restore.

Try reading this article:

Zog666 (author)tin7012010-01-26

omg thank u!!
I was goin to comment and ask what to do coz i accidently uninstalled the base.
Won't be making that mistake again!

mgikhnds (author)tin7012010-01-04

That worked perfectly! Not sure what I did, but wasn't as terminal as I thought, amazing what panic will do to a person. ;-)

Thanks so much for your help!

The great thing about Rockbox is that it opens the Ipod up to Blind and partially sighted people who have to rely on very expensive accessible players, shame when this is free!

Also, take that Itouch people! We can play videos as well.  ;-P
Keep up the good work!

K thanks and an ipod nano second generation (grey coulored) it supports it righ?

I'm afraid not... Im sorry :( only nano first gens (black or white, 1gb,2gb,4gb) models support it so if you are correct and have a 2nd gen (a good way of describing it has a aluminum enclosure and is the same all around and doesnt have a chrome back and then a different coloured face.) Tin

Dannnnngggg really?? So like if i get rockbox nothing will happen if i have a second gen? that sucks, does anyone know though if there's a rockbox type idea for a second gen nano?

Well, its supposedly in development. Its very hard to crack the firmware encryption on the newer ipods and unknown hardware is also a problem

sorry about that


haha k thanks anyways *tear* :P

crabsintrees (author)2009-10-01

Is there a RockBox version for iPod Nano 4th Generation? I don't see it on the list.

tin701 (author)crabsintrees2009-10-02

I'm afraid not :( Sorry

Crail (author)2009-08-23

so did i miss the part where you can get your 1st gen ipod nano to play videos, or is that near impossible?

tin701 (author)Crail2009-08-23

Playing movies on an ipod nano is easy :D all you have to do is convert them to the right format i might make another step in this instructable on how to do it later :P -tin

Crail (author)tin7012009-08-24

got it, used WinFF to convert a .m4a file into .mpg (just so no one goes searching endlessly on the internet like i did)

tin701 (author)Crail2009-08-24

Yep WinFF does the job nicely and even has 'rockbox' written in the options If opening it in your ipod (clicking it with center button) doesnt work hold down the center key and go open with mpegplayer

froggyman (author)2009-05-10

a 10min anti skip buffer is quite a bit dont you think? that will drain your battery very quickly.... you want one as low as possible

tin701 (author)froggyman2009-06-21

Suit yourself :) I think that if the ipod doesnt have to spin up the hdd everytime a new song comes on it may help battery, but if you dont use playlists and select songs manually it may not help

HAZMAT2364 (author)2009-05-15

The link to the ipod patch has a bracket at the end that makes it not work.

tin701 (author)HAZMAT23642009-05-16

Thanks for letting me know, woops!

caniconloco (author)tin7012009-06-21


tin701 (author)caniconloco2009-06-21

Your iPod may not be supported. If you are using an iPod Classic (black or silver aluminum, 80,120,160gb) or an iPod nano that is after the first gen (the first gen came in black or white glossy not aluminum) im afraid you may not be supported. :( Other than that i dont know , ill be happy to try and help you :)

jake429 (author)2008-12-02

Hey there! I have a mac running Tiger. Will RockBox work on my computer?

tin701 (author)jake4292008-12-07

Hey! I am pretty sure the procedure is very similar to installing under windows. Though I am not sure how to do it manually, so you can just use the RockBox Utility which is all automated. Hope this helps.

download the utility here :

or if that doesn't work find "mac os X" download on this page.

jake429 (author)tin7012008-12-11


adamthiede (author)jake4292008-12-17

Oh! I have a respnonse. I too have a mac running tiger. When you install rockbox, the mac won't recognize "a file without a name" and that's what the .rockbox firmware is. Make sure your mac doesn't open "safe" files upon downloading (in safari's preferences under the "General" menu) and unpack the firmware and put it on your ipod on a windows computer. It's much easier if you just do the whole thing on XP. But not vista. Vista sucks. :) Yes im old school i still use tiger. I love it!

tin701 (author)adamthiede2009-01-02

I don't like vista much either. :)

edfel01 (author)2008-11-08

well i found out its not good it says error make sure its in disk mode and then it says to connect it is in enable disk mode and is connected so y isnt it working need help fast!!!

tin701 (author)edfel012008-11-08

What kind of iPod do you have? Is your usb cable faulty? Try a different port on your computer.

edfel01 (author)tin7012008-11-09

i have a 3rd generation ipod it works on usb and i tried both ports ireally want this game to show off but im really getting P.O.

tin701 (author)edfel012008-11-10

Is it the 3rd gen nano or, is it the full-sized iPod with touch buttons?(10gb,15gb,20gb,30gb or 40gb)

edfel01 (author)tin7012008-11-11

3rd generationg nano i think well im prty...sure its small

tin701 (author)edfel012008-11-12

Oh, I am sorry but that model is not supported by RockBox. As I said at the start of this instructable, the only nano supported by RockBox is the 1st gen nano (the one that came in black and white, didn't play video, 2gb, 4gb.). So you should perform a restore under iTunes.

edfel01 (author)2008-11-08

after rebooting it i cant get rockbox thing to show. and wen i did the command thing,step 2, as soon as i pressed i then enter it closed immediately is that good? HELP i rlly want this game!!!

pstretz (author)2008-10-01

I tried RB about a year ago and the battery life suffered severely on my ipod 4G. not sure what the problem was but it didn't seem to buffer the audio properly and it was constantly accessing the disk. Did you notice any issues?

tin701 (author)pstretz2008-10-01

Since RockBox 3.0 came out on the 25/9/08 (it was in development for 3 years) i have noticed that RB has become a lot more stable and accesses the hard drive less. This constant accessing problem was one of my bigger concerns in the real world as when you are running around and such, you can't have the HDD constantly accessing all the time. This made the battery life suffer. I have found if you go settings>general settings> playback settings>Anti-skip buffer> set it to 10 mins or max settings>general settings> database>load to ram>yes settings>general settings> system>disk>Directory cahe>yes These settings help a lot. The anti-skip buffer loads about 2-6 songs ahead of the one you are playing so the iPod won't access the drive as much when playing music usually on every 5th song (this depends entirely on your song length and bitrate) Unless you select a new song manually from the list. When you load the database to ram the iPod wont have to spin up the drive when you are browsing your artists and track list etc. So this helps the battery a fair bit too. The directory cache is much the same thing. The iPod Just doesn't Load as much when going through menus. (it may spin up if you go deep into the file browser or launch a plugin though) On the battery life i have found that is much better with these setting and RockBox 3.0. Keeping on the same playlist always helps too (because you can optimize the buffer) Thanks for commenting! This is probably more info than you need though. (also if i sounded a bit brief in this comment it is because i had a nice long comment to post that took very long and when i tried to post it i got a very annoying "runtime error" and had to start all over again.) -Tin

pstretz (author)tin7012008-10-02

wow!! sounds like I need to give it another try, thanks for the update and tips!!

tin701 (author)pstretz2008-10-02

Well you may as well, even if you have the same problems, just uninstall again!

Dragon Maze (author)2008-09-30

For the record, my brother and I were truly blown away when we discovered RockBox for his cheap little $15 MP3 Player. Allowed it to now play movies, video games, and expand ALL of it's features. I love that someone took the initiative to share RB info on here. Just be aware that RB works on almost ANY Mp3 Player, not just iPods -check to see what players are supported. Will be the best use of $0 you can do this month!!

tin701 (author)Dragon Maze2008-09-30

Yes i know it runs on other Mp3 players but i decided to do the tutorial on the iPod since that is what most people have. :) thanks for the comment. Also i just found out that with the release of RockBox 3.0 there is a handy RockBox utility that will do all this automatically. I still prefer the old fashioned way though. ;)

Dragon Maze (author)tin7012008-09-30

tried to word my comment so as NOT to in any way denigrate your posting's focus on iPods... I totally get why you did so. I just wanted to put the word out that your submission also helps users of most other players. :) Oh, and we also prefer doing the old fashioned way - utilities that do it all for you, though wonderful for newbies, are too limiting for those who are more experienced. Also, I was psyched to see that you have still more resources on here for Mp3 Player users. :) (p.s. I wish this site allowed editing posts, not requiring deleting and reposting if I write a double-negative. :P )

About This Instructable




More by tin701:Install RockBox on an iPod (easy steps)
Add instructable to: