How To: Rockbox installation on iPod Classic (new bootloader)

How To: Rockbox installation on iPod Classic (new bootloader)




Since I wrote my previous article on installing EmCore and Rockbox on to the iPod Classics, there has been some great work done in this area and in effect creating an integrated bootloader installation method for Rockbox.

Currently in Beta, but the new bootloader installation method works really well and with the new DesignWare USB driver introduced in to the code – the USB funtionality is impressive – very fast transfer speeds and (so far) no filesystem corruption or (usb) device dropping.

Anyway the guy who has been doing this great work has posted a link, there is an installation video as well as links to the latest builds and useage documentation.

I think this is a great solution for people who own 6g iPods which have the LBA28 limit of 127Gb. Rockbox and this new bootloader will open up the extra storage available when installed with higher capacity solid state storage.

The following video shows the entire installation process and the extra steps necessary when using with an iFlash board and larger than 128Gb storage …..

Go get the latest build from the link above – I suggest the Designware USB build and the zip file, which you should extract to a suitable location on your computer.

UPDATE: Many people have been asking me, while it is not shown/mentioned in the video this same method can be used for the iFlash-Sata as well as all the other iFlash adapters.

As always this process is messing around with the underlying firmware installed on the iPod, so there is a risk of bricking your device – you have been warned. If you choose to follow this guide you do so at your own risk!!

NOTE: After making the video it occured to me that when you run the Rockbox utility the first time, you can just select the bootloader installation, then re-partition/re-format the storage, then on the second run of the Rockbox utility, install Rockbox and related files. This will save a little time.

78 thoughts on “How To: Rockbox installation on iPod Classic (new bootloader)

  1. Tim

    How well does Rockbox perform with 5th Gen 32MB cache based iPod videos as opposed to the 64MB cache version if you are using an iFlash Dual? Also, note that I only play ALAC files on my current 5th Gen 64MB board based set up and notice that it does have a slight load up time, ESPECIALLY when trying to skip tracks vigorously.

  2. Sam

    Hello iFlashers,
    I just did an iPod 5.5g with an iQuad and 128+64Gb SDXC FAT32.

    I have a couple of questions that I don’t seem to find the answer anywhere:
    Can I install RockBox on my iPod M446 (was 30Gb)? If yes can I simply use the installer available on the RockBox site or do I need to follow a different process due to the iQuad mod?
    If I can install Rockbox, will this remove the 20000 tracks limit or will I still have to deal with it?

    Sorry if this is redundant but everything I could find seems to be for the 6th gen and above; nothing for 5 or 5.5…

    Many thanks

  3. GS.

    The guide, and the Rockbox classic software only shows up to 6g iPod, does this also include the 7g last version or is that still not supported?

    1. Support

      @GS – I am pretty sure that the builds will work with the 6g and 7g’s – and not seen any information to say it would not work.

    2. GS.

      Thanks very much for the reply.
      To be more specific, the drop down menu (when you choose disabled targets) only shows 6th Gen, there is no 7th option. Do I choose this to install?

  4. Alex

    The new bootloader seems pretty unstable for me when transferring more than 5 files across unfortunately…. Neither v8 nor designware seem to be any better….

  5. zak


    I have a 160 g thin, I have got a quad and bought two sandisk 200gb microd cards. I have already installed a 256g ssd on a previous ipod with no issues but I am finding it hard to get the microsd card to be formatted correctly.

    I put together the ipod, flash card and sd card, restored it, followed the new instructions and managed to get everything up and running however my computer froze after transfering part of my music collection.

    I am now stuck with the rockbox bootloader in usb mode as it cannot find rockbock.ipod, I have tried formatting it to exfat in a card reader and then remounting it in the ipod however in the ipod as it is reconized as unformmated in aomei. have tried to format it to fat32 while connected via usb and it freezes at 48 %.

    Should I try reformatting it in the card reader again or through the ipod ?


  6. Charlie

    Help please. I’ve been looking all over for an answer, but can’t seem to find one. I’ve done everything as shown and have rockbox up and running on my 6th gen (120GB) ipod classic. I’ve installed the quad adapter with 4x128GB SDXC cards, all of which were formatted (MBR, del partitions, FAT32) as shown in another guide. I have all ~500GB available and properly formatted. Rockbox boots no problem. It plays a number of albums. HOWEVER, I have about 180GB of music that I need to transfer onto the drive (windows 10), and every time I try to do this, something goes wrong. It’s not one thing. I get various transfer errors. Sometimes it’s a single file that won’t copy over. Other times, it’s a whole album. When I copy files over using Ubuntu, it seems to go without a hitch, but then when I try to play the files, there’s skipping, etc. Sometimes rockbox just flat out crashes. Is this a known problem, and is their a solution? Should this not be happening?

  7. canvasfly


    Is there a list of SD cards that have worked well with Rockbox?
    I use PNY 128gb and sandisk 128 and 200gb cards, mostly micro sdxc.
    Using the quad adapter, I had success installing and running rockbox on my 7.5g (160gb slim). I had a couple of kernel panic crashes, but I was mostly fine.
    I also have a much older 4th Gen 20GB model and has to give up on Rockbox. Original firmware works with no issue.

    Thank you

  8. Phoebe

    Hi, I also have a 6G ipod classic 160gb and I installed the iFlash SATA in mine with a 500gb drive. The installation went well, but getting Rockbox to install just isn’t happening. I’m on a Mac, and when I run the Rockbox utility, the bootloader checkbox is grayed out, so the bootloader never installs. The ipod starts up as normal, with its normal firmware and the 127gb limit still in place. I also have a linux computer and I tried doing it on there with the same result. Any advice? Thanks!

    1. Support

      @Phoebe – I don’t have a MAC, and never attempted the Rockbox installation via a MAC – hopefully someone else who has experience can help.


    How can I get rid of the LBA28 limit on my 80g ipod classic 6g? installed iflash solo with 256g sdxc. I have rockbox installed but it only shows 127g.

    1. Support

      @Lee – This is covered in the video, you just need to connect the iPod in the Bootloaders diskmode and repartition & format using suitable software (I used AOMEI in the Video to do it).

  10. John

    Hi. I’ve used the rockbox utility before and it worked perfectly. I’m using the iflash quad and decided to add an sd card. Everything was going smoothly, I’ve formatted the cards and restored the ipod on itunes succesfuly, but whenever I go to use the rockbox utility it always stops at 99% and the ipod bootloader says that it can’t find the rockbox.ipod file. I’ve tried multiple times using the stable and the beta version but always end with the same results. It won’t run rockbox but it runs stock ipod OS just fine and that is what I am currently using. Hope you guys could help

  11. Chris

    This might be a dumb question, but do I understand correctly that 6.5g Classic (160gb Thick) has Maximum 128Gb? even though it’s 160GB from the factory? Or is the limit only a factor when the drive has been replaced?

    1. Support

      @Chris – That model uses an CE-ATA 160Gb HDD and Apple use this to differentiate between allowing great then 128Gb or not! before you ask – they only ever made the 160Gb CE-ATA drive, and then the CE-ATA standard was in-effect abandoned.

  12. John

    Hope I did not just brick my ipod.

    So my ipod was already rockboxed and had an iflash quad with 128+64gb sd cards. I wanted to add another 64gb sd card so I went and reformatted all 3 cards to FAT32 and deleted everything that was in the first 2 cards. Popped them all in the iflash adapeter and turned the ipod on but I couldn’t get itunes to restore the ipod because it can’t seem to find it. The ipod turns and tries to run rockbox, it says “No partition found” and enters Bootloader USB mode and I’m stuck here. How do I fix it?

    1. Support

      @John – Of course that will happen as there is no partition table on the cards, you need to use something like AOMEI or another partition manager, to create a new partition on the iPod ‘drive’.

    2. John

      @Support: Thanks for the advice. Fixed it! For some reason the 128 gb micro sd wasn’t getting formatted correctly. Replaced it and everything works great.

  13. Joel

    PLEASE HELP. I have tried countless times to get this working but to no avail. I get to the part where it restarts in DFU mode then it tries to restart again but the iPod has already said, no partition found entering usb mode boot loader usb mode. then the installer fails from this point. I cannot find any solutions anywhere.

    1. Support

      @Joel – has the iPod been restore and sync’d with iTunes to confirm all is working with it, after then you can attempt installing Rockbox and this bootloader.

  14. James T

    After some 3 days of playing around, I managed to get my 7th Generation iPod working, the instructions are a bit basic, I could make a video if it helps.

    1. I completely restored my iPod with iTunes, stopped ihelper in the task manager.

    2. Downloaded and ran (BETA) to load the bootloader, I got a fail on the cannot load rockbox.ipod, when it restarted,

    3. then I downloaded unzipped and manually copied it over to my iPod, rebooted and it worked.

    hope it helps.

  15. Gabe

    As i gave up on Rockbox with the mSata Adapter a while ago (was just not working on a 7G) i just seen this, will this new version now work properly on 7G+mSata?


    1. Support

      @Breyonna – thata head-fi thread is related to the iPod Video’s (5g/5.5g), this new boatloader and article is only for the iPod Classics (6g/7g).

    2. Support

      @Gabe – You know I have not tried it yet!!! The issues with the mSata & SD cards with Rockbox/EmCore, was always the Rocbox USB Handler – I will try and make some time and see how it works with a 500Gb mSata installed.

    1. Support

      @Breyonna – yes of course the LBA28 limit applies to all the 6g iPod regardless of which storage used. Only the 5g/5.5g/7g iPods are LBA48 and do not have the limit.

  16. Michael Vogel

    Can you tell me if accessories using the ipod connector still work when using Rockbox? I am specifically thinking car stereos…

    Thanks, Michael

    1. Support

      @Michael – That is something that would be best asked over at, I am just not sure how rockbox handles the Apple accessory protocols.

  17. Troy

    haha damn i literally spent a whole day last week getting rockbox working. guess i should have procrastinated a little longer lol. thanks for the new guide. AND all your hard work on iflash, it was a much needed upgrade from my 240gb drive

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