Installation of the Rockbox bootloader on iPod Classic (80/120/160 GB)
Last updated: 14 August 2018
This page will contain a link to the most recent version of the bootloader, until it gets merged into Rockbox, and the Classics become an officially supported target. When this happens, this page will redirect to Rockbox's installation instructions.
Current stable version: v1_0 (28 February 2017)
Current legacy version: v8 (31 January 2016, updated on 7 July 2016)
There is a GUI installer for Windows (Rockbox Utility). For Linux and Mac, there is a command-line tool mks5lboot, which can install, update or uninstall the bootloader.
IMPORTANT! Please check if your model number (in menu Settings - About) matches, before proceeding with the installation!
IMPORTANT! If you have an adapter for mSATA or SD card (iFlash, ZIF to CF and CF to SD, ZIF to mSATA, etc.) please keep in mind that file transfer in Rockbox or Rockbox Bootloader USB mode MAY not work, depending on the adapter type and card type! In this case you need to use Apple's firmware to transfer music, then you need to reboot into Rockbox to listen to that music. List of recommended SD cards can be found at iFlash Solo page in tab SD cards, below the picture.
WARNING! If your adapter/card does not work well with Rockbox, connecting the USB cable while Rockbox or Rockbox Bootloader USB mode is running will lead to filesystem corruption and you'll have to re-format the iPod as FAT32, reinstall Rockbox and re-upload all files that you need (music, etc.). You'll need to do that while running Apple's firmware.
Installation instructions for Windows
Connect your iPod in normal mode (iTunes/file transfer).
Download mks5lboot for your operating system. Alternatively, you can build it from the source code.
You need to have package libusb installed using Homebrew (brew install libusb) or MacPorts (port install libusb) in order to run mks5lboot.
To make sure the installer is marked as executable, start the following command in the terminal: chmod +x mks5lboot.
Start mks5lboot from a terminal with the following command-line: ./mks5lboot --dfuscan -l. It should scan for DFU devices every second.
Before continuing to the next step, it is important to stop iTunes (dock icon -> Quit) and iTunesHelper (using Activity monitor, find the process and select Quit or Force quit if it keeps restarting). Otherwise iTunes will put your iPod in wrong mode, and you will not be able to proceed with the installation.
When the device is detected, press CTRL+C to terminate the scan process, and proceed to the next step.
Start mks5lboot from a terminal with the following command-line: ./mks5lboot --bl-inst path/to/bootloader-ipod6g.ipod, providing the correct path to bootloader-ipod6g.ipod that you downloaded earlier.
When the installation is complete, you should have Rockbox up and running!
Entering DFU mode
At some point during the installation, you need to switch your iPod to DFU (device firmware update) mode. This has proven to be tricky, so here are additional instructions
Lock the HOLD switch
Wait 1 second
Unlock the HOLD switch
Press and hold down MENU and CENTER at the same time
Wait 12 seconds - the timing is important, so either look at your computer's clock, or count to 12
Release both buttons
A device in DFU mode is hard to tell apart from a turned off device. The screen is completely black, nothing happens if you press any of the buttons. But if you connect it to a computer, the USB IDs are different - Product ID is 1223 (here's a table of iPod Product IDs).
Which version should I use?
v1_0: Uses the new driver for Bootloader USB mode. It should work fine, while some people reported that Rockbox USB mode is slow or broken.
v8: Does not provide Bootloader USB mode.
If you are using v1_0, please try if Bootloader USB mode works for you. If not, use Apple's Disk mode.
If you are using v8, please try if Rockbox USB mode works for you. If not, use Apple's Disk mode.
Includes the latest DesignWare USB driver. Enables using of bootloader USB mode (file transfers before Rockbox has loaded).
Please note that mk6gboot has been renamed to mks5lboot.