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How to sync your iPad with Linux

by Sukrit Dhandhania

Apple makes some great hardware, but their closed eco system is far from Linux-friendly. Thankfully it can be done – here’s how you can use your iPad, iPhone and iPod with your Ubuntu Linux computer…

Working with Music

One of the pop-up windows that appeared when you connected your Apple device to your Ubuntu computer will ask you which application you want to use to manage the music on your device. Two players that have great support for these devices are Rhythmbox and Amarok.

5. Rhythmbox
Rhythmbox is the music player that ships by default with Ubuntu Linux, and is arguably one of the most popular music players on the Linux platform. When you connect your iDevice to you Ubuntu computer and Rhythmbox is running, the device should automatically show up in the Devices list on the left sidebar of the application’s main window. Drag and drop any music you want added to your iPod, iPad or iPhone. One of the missing features in Rhythmbox is that it only allows you to add music to your iDevice and not remove stuff. If you want to be able to remove stuff, you will need to use Amarok.

How to sync your iPad with Linux
Rhythmbox displaying the list of music on an Apple iPad

6. Amarok
Amarok is a KDE project and is not included in the default list of packages that gets installed with Ubuntu Linux. You can, however, install it using the command ‘# sudo apt-get install amarok’. Once Amarok is installed, connect your iDevice to your computer. The device should show up under the Local Music sections. To remove a song from your iPod or iPhone, expand the device’s music listing from the Local Music section, right-click on the song and click on the ‘delete’ option in the menu. Wait for a short while as the device syncs with Amarok. Hit OK when asked if you want to proceed with the sync. The selected track should then be deleted.


gtkpod is yet another application for syncing your iPod, iPad or iPhone with Linux. It’s a bit trickier to get going, but considering the fact that the team is working on features such as calendar and contacts syncing, it might just trump all the other tools to become a one-stop shop for all your syncing needs.

7. Get Fuse
Before you can get going with gtkpod, you will need to install the package Fuse and its dependencies on your computer. Ubuntu Linux users can install it by searching for the term ‘fuse’ in the Synaptic Package Manager’s list of available packages. Once Fuse is installed, you will need to edit the file ‘/etc/fuse.conf’. Open the file in your favourite text editor (with sudo privileges) and change the last line from ‘#user_allow_other’ to ‘user_allow_other’ (ie remove the hash sign). Save the file and exit the text editor.

How to sync your iPad with Linux
Edit the /etc/fuse.conf to look like this

8. Complete Fuse installation
Now launch the ‘Users and Groups’ manager from the System>Administration menu. Click on the Manage Groups button, find the group ‘fuse’ in the list and hit the Properties button. Check the box with your username on it in the pane that pops up. Click OK and close the windows. You should now have access to Fuse. For all the settings changes you made to kick in, you will need to log out and get back into your account.

9. Install gtkpod
Install gtkpod from Synaptic or by using the command ‘# sudo apt-get install gtkpod’. The application should appear under ‘Applications>Sound and Video>gtkpod iPod Manager’. Now add your iPhone, iPad or iPod to the gtkpod setup by launching on Edit>
Repository/iPod Options item in the menu. Give the repository a name such as ‘My iPad’.

10. Set up gtkpod
Make sure your Apple device is connected to your computer before proceeding. Under your home directory you will see a hidden folder called .gvfs/. Your Apple device will be mounted under this directory with the device’s name. Enter that as the repository mount point in gtkpod. For example, on our computer this path was ‘/home/sukritd/.gvfs/Phoebus iPhone’. Select your Apple device’s model under the list of the models available. Hit Add and OK to complete the setup. On the main window of gtkpod, click on the Load iPod(s) button to have gtkpod fetch all the information from your Apple device. Make the changes you want to make and then hit the Save Changes button to apply the changes to your Apple device.

How to sync your iPad with Linux
Enter the path of the location where your Apple device has been mounted, and the model, correctly

Continue to page 3 – working with photos & video

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    • dakira

      This article is strange. First you explain how to install libimobiledevice for Ubuntu 9.10 even though this Ubuntu version is outdated. There is a long-term-support release (10.04) AND a new regular release which is called 10.10 btw, and not 10.1! Both of which support what you write about out-of-the-box.

      What would be nice to know, is how to sync stuff, install apps, usb-tether or backup/restore the device. These are the things you gain by installing the new version of libimobiledevice.

      Also: You don’t have to “unmount” iPhone/iPod touch/iPad as long as they don’t say “synchronizing” on their screen. The OS on the devices takes care of it automatically. In fact “umounting” the newer iDevices doesn’t do anything but removing the icon from the desktop.

    • Shreekar

      Any Idea hot to load eBooks to use in iBooks ?

    • steve

      Hi there,

      My ipod nano is seen as is the music on it, however i cannot drag an drop music to it, i get an error message saying “read only file system”. I am using 10.04.

    • steve

      Ok looks to be working now, not quite sure why though, but hey.
      Also while it does not “sync”, you can remove tracks as well as add in Rythmbox.
      I have just cleared my daughters Ipod nano of 200ish songs and added on 1092.
      Happy days.

    • geeko

      Using openSUSE 11.3 fully up-to-date I spent 5 hours or so with a clean fresh iPod classic and could not get past HFS+ being both read only.

      I could see (read) the iPod but do nothing else

      I understand that if I use MS Windows to initialize the iPod the filesystem would have been changed to VFAT32

      I’d really like to know if the author has actually done all that he claims, or, having used an MS Windows initialized iPod, has assumed that everything else would be as easy?

      This article is more convincing

      however there is also this

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    • K. F.

      I attempted to add music to my iPad using Rhythmbox. I had previously synced the iPad with iTunes on my Windows machine. Rhythmbox removed all album artwork from all songs and movies before crashing, without actually adding a single file. I then restored the artwork using iTunes, then tried GTKPod, with the same result.

      Any suggestions for how to actually add songs to the device without completely obliterating my album artwork?

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    • Smartie77

      better solution : sell iPad/iPod/iPhone, buy Android tablet / phone , plug Android device into Linux, enable USB mount as offered by Android wizard.

      enjoy read/writeable contents from and to your device. Android does not care if your epubs/mp3s/movs are pirated or drm’ed. Therfore it does not need “iTunes” as the gatekeeper.

      If you prepare your Android’s SD-card with a simple textfile in its root labeled


      and insert in the file this simple

      [Music folder]

      you can happily sync from and to with Amarok,Rhythmbox,banshee etc .

      Try this with any Apple device.. ios5.x wont even let you add music, only import via a one-way-road but not vice versa ..

      Useless toys these fruit devices. ( at least ubuntu one has an app on the appstore, but even that is severly limited on what it can “sync” ).

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    • Mohammad Hajarat

      I am not sure that this whole thing works too. I tried it on Linux Mint, and Kubuntu, doesn’t work at all. made me wonder, did the guy who wrote the article actually got things working!!!! so read the comments to see if someone got it working!!!!! in my case. Not Rhythmbox, not Amarok, not even gtkpod worked!!!!! Rhythmbox, says Transferring files, then nothing gets actually transferred, gtkpod, starts then crashes. I wil give it a try on Fedora, but things not looking good.

    • Mohammad Hajarat

      I am not sure that this whole thing works. I tried it on Linux Mint, and Kubuntu, doesn’t work at all. made me wonder, did the guy who write the article actually got things working!!!! so read the comments to see if someone got it working!!!!! in my case, not Rhythmbox, not Amarok, not even gtkpod worked!!!!! Rhythmbox, says Transferring files, then nothing gets actually transferred, gtkpod, starts then crashes. I will give it a try on Fedora, but things not looking good. another example of spending hours on Linux for NOTHING. I really want to transfer to Linux, but things are always daunting, you read a tutorial on how to do something, you spend hour after hour following instructions literally, to end up with NOTHING.

    • leprechaun

      Interesting to find a webpage like this searching on Google, then looking at the date of this piece of information: 1st December.
      Very useful. And of what year please?
      There is no dates everywhere on this page.
      Have you some idea about how internet operates?

    • whisperingUs

      Check this out: QMole—A Linux Desktop System for the iPad. It is cool,please go support him.