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.

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

  1. David Bathe

    Something is confusing me slightly. I’ve just fitted a iFlash Solo to my 6th Generation iPod 160GB classic with a test 32GB SD card. It seems to be working well so now I was going to get a bigger memory card. I’ve read that 6th Generation iPod can only access 128GB of memory, but how can that be when the original HDD was 160GB?

    Is the limitation on iPod 6th Generation with a HDD smaller than 128GB?

    Can I fit a 256MB card because my 6th Generation iPod had a 160GB HDD?

  2. sacocats

    I put Rockbox on a 6th gen iPod and it froze often on song skip and it would require a hard reset. It wasn’t specific songs because the song that got skipped would play after reset.

    If anyone else out there was having a similar problem, the fix for me was putting on the legacy version of the bootloader (v8) instead of the stable (v1_0). Now it works like a dream. 8+ hours of playback with no freeze yet.

  3. Adrian

    @James T

    The link you provided at step 2 got me on the right path, thanks! Here’s what I did to make it work:

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

    2. Downloaded from here and run RockboxUtility.exe and follow the steps in app

    3. At boot It will fail saying it can’t find rockbox

    4. Abort and restore the ipod again using iTunes BUT NOT COMPLETELY just to get it to connect to USB (this means: don’t install the apple firmware, just do the first part of the process) so you can copy the .rockbox folder manually

    5. Copy the rockbox folder and restart the ipod. Alternatively you can try using the RockboxUtility.exe again and install just rockbox with it, not the bootloader

  4. Support

    @Paolo – The known working list of SD cards is for the iTunes/Apple OS – it does not mean it will work with Rockbox.

    To get back to the original Apple OS, just place the iPod in to DFU mode (hold down menu+select for 7 to 10 seconds until the iPod appears to go dead, while connected to the computer) and run iTunes to recover / restore iPod.

  5. paolo.tavazzani

    After installing the HW iFlash-Dual, have followed your tutorial to prepare a Kingston SDXC 512gb card (which from the compatibility list is supported) by formatting it as FAT32 and followed your extremely. Lear tutorial to install Rockbox in it.

    During the first installation, after installing the new bootloader and more or lesse around the last part of the downloading and installing phases windows 10 complained about the disk corresponding to th iPod Classic (6g 160 GB Thick) being disconnected and had to abort the procedure.

    After reconnecting the iPod it I tried reinstalling Rockbox but kept having some disconnections of the disk in various phases of the process. After a few formatting/Rockbox installing I managed to complete the process but once I disconnect the iPod immediately got a Kernel Panic for missing partition and on rebooting went back to the USB mode due to a missing partition,

    I tried to restart the process by reformatting the card directly on PC according to preparation instruction, reassembled the iPod and reinstalling again Rockbox. This time the process completed with no issues so I tried transferring 2gb of music through Intrernet Explorer and again had a disconnection after some 20% of the file transfer.
    Now when disconnecting the iPod from pc and rebooting again I get stuck in the bootloader in USB Mode. Windows sees the disk and the contents of it (both Rockbox folder and the partially transferred music but cannot start Rockbox.

    Any suggestion on how to fix this situation?

    Another question, how can I reinstall the original Apple bootloader to reinstall Apple firmware and check if the HW is working properly in a pure Apple environment (which stupidly didn’t test after installing the HW)?

    Thanks for any help you can provide me.

  6. 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.

  7. 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

  8. 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?

  9. 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.

  10. 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?

  11. 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….

  12. 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 ?


  13. 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?

  14. 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

  15. 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.

  16. 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!

  17. 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).


    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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *