My desire for openness with my data has led me to the Toshiba Gigabeat MP3 player. The Gigabeat F series was shipped running a version of Linux. This version of the Gigabeat, however, still attempts to control media somewhat by requiring the use of the Toshiba software for transferring of songs.
Because of this limitation I began researching what it would take to modify or enhance the Linux environment on the Gigabeat. This research led me to Rockbox. Rockbox is a Linux based firmware for various MP3 players. With Rockbox you can copy your music to your MP3 player just as you would any other file. The device is basically an external hard drive. Put the songs anywhere on your MP3 player and Rockbox will play them.
Working with Rockbox and the Gigabeats I have purchased I soon learned that when these devices displayed certain errors they could be fixed by either the installation of Rockbox or a reconnect of the hard drive. I have worked with 8 Gigabeat players, three of which I bought with “System Error” messages displayed.
I will take a moment here to digress. I never considered purchasing an Ipod because I loath digital rights management (DRM). DRM hinders end users much more than it helps artists keep their earnings. Not only does the Ipod, and most other MP3 players, require you to use either iTunes or Windows Media Center, it locks down how many machines on which the music can be stored without going through licensing hassles. Browsing the Rockbox site, I discovered Rockbox was available for every generation of the Ipod.
I did some investigation of Ipod errors and came to discover the error with a folder and a sad face was a hard drive error. Having replaced or reconnected hard drives in my Gigabeat I did not think it would be much an issue to do the same for an Ipod so off I went to eBay to find myself a broken Ipod. I found several and to date have fixed four Ipods, all 4th generation, by simply reconnecting the hard drive. In the event a hard drive needed replacing you will find several items listed for Ipod replacement hard drives. For the 4th generation Ipods the model number of the hard drive needed is MK2006GAL.
Once I had working a single working Ipod I did not hesitate to install Rockbox. The Rockbox interface can be themed, yet another advantage to using an open firmware, however the default interface is very similar to what Ipods normally show. But with Rockbox on my Ipod I do not have to worry about DRM and transferring files to my Ipod can be done via Windows Explorer or its Linux counter-parts Nautilus and Konqueror.