HowTo: Install Rockbox on the iPod Classics

HowTo: Install Rockbox on the iPod Classics




There is a new version of this guide, updated to show the new bootloader and Rockbox utility method of installing.
Read here -> iPod 6g Classic Rockbox Installation


Thanks to some ongoing work by one of the EmCore developers (Thank you TheSeven!!). We have a development version which is working great on my iFlash boards – this includes CF, SD and mSata cards.

Installation is a two part process. First part we replace the Apple OS with EmCore and once that is running we install Rockbox.

You can get more info about emCore and Rockbox at these links.

One great side effect of installing EmCore / Rockbox, is it removes the silly 128Gb LBA28 limits of the Apple OS for 6g (80Gb,160Gb,120Gb) owners.

Be warned you are making low level changes to your iPod – so read this warning and disclaimer, understand the risks before proceedings :-


  1. You read the disclaimer and warning above?!?!?!? No crying if it goes wrong.
  2. Download the latest development build files here :-  ClassicRockbox.
  3. Extract the archive to a convenient place, so you should have a folder called ClassicRockbox.
  4. If you have iTunes installed, hit ctrl + alt + del and start task manager. In task manager goto the Processes tab and click on show processes from all users. Then right click on these processes and select kill process tree :- iPodService.exe , iTunesHelper.exe , AppleMovileDeviceService.exe .
  5. Connect your iPod to the computer.
  6. Hold down Menu + Select, for around 5 to 10 seconds – keep holding until it stops resetting and the iPod looks like it has died – screen should be blank and no backlight.
  7. Wait a moment for the computer to install the iPod device recovery driver.
  8. In the folder ClassicRockbox, double click bootstrap_ipodclassic_itunes.exe.
  9. A UMSBoot drive should appear. Drag and drop the installer-ipodclassic.ubi file in to the UMSboot drive.
  10. Now safe eject the UMSboot drive.
  11. EmCore should now boot up on the iPod and finish installing itself.
  12. Select Rockbox and that will start the fallback Rockbox image on EmCore.
  13. Rockbox should start and enter USB mode, wait for the iPod to appear on your computer.
  14. Once the iPod drive appears, drag and drop the .rockbox folder to the iPod.
  15. Safely eject the iPod and remove the USB lead.

Remember this is a development version – so leave a comment let me know how it is working for you…. especially the storage cards you are using….

Task Manager Kill Processes
Kill all the iTunes related processes before connecting iPod.
Get iPod in to DFU Mode
Get iPod in to DFU Mode
Run Boot Loader Exe
Run Boot Loader Exe, UMSboot drive should appear.
Copy UBI file
Copy UBI file to UMSboot drive and safely eject.
EmCore Install
emCore will install itself by flashing the iPod
Copy RockBox Folder
Copy .rockbox Folder to iPodClassic drive.
iPod 6g Loaded
Finally load up lots of music, like I have (PNY 256Gb SDXC)
Rockbox info screen
Rockbox info screen (PNY 256Gb SDXC)

164 thoughts on “HowTo: Install Rockbox on the iPod Classics

  1. Darryn

    I have had this installed for a about 2 months but now have issues. I am getting the below error. I have restored itunes and reinstalled emcore/rockbox but get the same issue. Ipod classic 6G 256g SD PNY.
    Data abort at 22003630!
    FSR: 00000005 (domain 0, fault 5)
    Address: 100018F8

  2. Master_Rat

    Just finished installing RockBox on my Ipod Classic 6G 80 Thin MB147 with the Dual iFlash v3 Firmware: iFlash82 with 2 SanDisk 64 Micro sd card 128 total). I could get as far as to getting emCORE loaded but as soon as I tried to load the Rockbox fallback image file I would get a ******Panic****** ATA error. Unable to remember the hole thing from memory, anyway asked Tarkan about this and he pointed me to the file above (emCORE v0.2.3 r967:968) and it work on the first attempt. So far no issues.Thanks

  3. Pete


    Thanks, even though its negative, jr’s useful to know, saves me wasting a lot of time trying it!

    Its a mystery to me why brand would matter, but I’ve had no problems with 3 different PNY 256gb cards, and also have a 128gb cheapo-brand card paired with one of the PNYs in a dual adaptor and they all work fine with Rockbox. Only the Kingston refused to co-operate, in two different ipods (except in a 5th gen if I used OF).

    1. Tarkan

      @Pete & @skaffa – Managed to get EmCore / Rockbox loaded on the 6g, tested various cards.

      Managed to get some benchmarks, and can confirm the Kingston problems you both mention – The Kingston card seems to be extremely sensitive to cluster size and the default 4Kb cluster of EmCore causes all sorts of issues – I reformatted the Kingston to FAT32 32Kb clusters size, which improved things enough for me to take benchmarks successfully. However, that did no solve the transfer issues which still caused drive disappearing after around 400 files.

      (To format the Kingston to 32Kb clusters I did the following steps – Format Data Partition in EmCore, Start Fallback Rockbox Image, connect to computer, using AOMEI format drive to FAT32 32KB Clusters, copy the latest Rockbox 6g build to drive, Eject and reboot iPod)

  4. Kevin

    It sounds to me like you guys are having problems primarily with the Kingston card, no? I am running the iFlash Bundle in a 6th Gen with a 256GB PNY card & Rockbox with no issues. I can sync via disc mode or thru RB with no issues, although it’s faster in disc mode. As I recall, I did all the formatting of the card through emCore, but it’s been a while since I built it.

  5. skaffa

    @Pete I’ve tried the diskmode too, to no avail. Same problem.

    I’m thinking it’s a lowlevel emcore issue, pausibly related to filesystem/partition handling. Although when I try to copy files via Linux the kernel gives a usb reset error, I think it’s because there is some overload (power?)/overflow or misalignment on the filehandling side.

    Has anyone been able to format the volume via the PC? I’ve tried various vfat options with difference sector sizes and such but whatever I try Rockbox can’t read it (although Linux can succesfully read the FS even after rebooting the iPod). The internal formatter does format in a way Rockbox can acces it, although I’ve often seen file corruptions directly after formatting, like files from before the format still being there, which cannot be read or written to.

    Another thing; how could the brand of SD influence the corruption? Is the way the filesystemhandler handles the SD quite different for Kingston cards than for example PNY cards?

    About the soundquality; I have to say the sound feels much less compressed using the Rockbox soft/firmware than the iOS software (for the same highquality rips), especially when listening through a headset (i used an M-50).

  6. Pete


    Could it be an emcore issue? I presume the iRiver doesn’t require a special bootloader hack to install Rockbox?
    Still hoping previous poster will be able to check whether emcore diskmode works any better, as I’d rather have this card in a 7.5 gen,

    1. Tarkan

      @Pete – No don’t think so, the developer that actually coded in the EmCore diskmode, told me other than as a bootloader EmCore is not involved once Rockbox is running.

      Also he said the EmCore diskmode provide ATA passthrough but also uses similar code to Rockbox.

      I still have not managed get EmCore installed on the 6g iPod here – but one thing I want to test is using EmCore diskmode to format the installed SD card.

  7. Pete


    Hey, did you try syncing using emcore’s ‘disk mode’?

    I didn’t try that at the time and now can’t be bothered to remove the kingston card from the 5th gen and completely erase all the content in order to try it again in the 7.5 gen using that mode (rather than rockbox mode which had the ‘losing the disk’ problem you describe). Be interested to know if it makes any difference for you.

    1. Tarkan

      @Pete & @Skaffa – I was exchanging some emails with a guy who fitted my iFlash-Dual in to a iRiver H340 running Rockbox and he has none of these problems – fast and stable as he put it.

  8. Pete


    …Anyway, my conclusion at the moment is there’s something about Kingston cards that Rockbox’s questionable USB handler doesn’t like.

  9. Pete

    PS, to be honest, I can’t say I’ve noticed any difference in sound quality between rockbox and OF, I just prefer Rockbox for lots of other reasons (not least it can cope much better with large numbers of tracks).

  10. Pete


    Hmmm, that sounds very much like my experience at trying to install Rockbox with a Kinsgton 256gb SDXC card on a 7.5 gen (as I posted about on another thread here). I found no problem with a PNY card, but the Kingston card wouldn’t let me install Rockbox – had to resort to putting it in a 5th gen and dual-booting.
    The nature of the failure sounds exactly as you describe in your case – windows ‘loses’ the drive when you try to install.

  11. Skaffa

    Hi Tarkan and all!

    For the last few days I’ve been busy trying to get Rockbox working on my 7th gen ipod classic (the latest, thin version) which I’ve installed a Kingston 250GB SDXC in using the iFlash bundle.

    Everything seems to work fine other than the fact that when copying files over from a Windows computer the device is lost in Windows (explorer can no longer access the volume) and the data partition of the ipod get’s corrupted. Rockbox seems to hang afterwards and I need to reset the ipod in order to get into Rockbox again. Strangely enough when I do sequential file operations (like with Rsync) it seems to take much longer before Rockbox bugs out. Doing parallel copies using Musicbee crashes the volume after two files, with sequential copies using Rsync it takes about fifty files.

    I’ve tried both the files in this tutorial and the latest release on Emcore’s website (r859). Both in the default and the fallback rockbox the problem occurs.

    The iPod and flashcard work fine with Apple’s proprietary software (although after 190+ GB the iPod becomes quite slow to use). So I guess neither the partitioning or the flashcard are the problem.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated because after hearing the soundquality difference between Rockbox and Apple’s software I really don’t want to go back 🙂

  12. Gabe


    Could you maybe just share your knowledge here?
    I’m about to give up on my 7G with a msata 256gb drive as from the looks of it that the second sentence of this how-to is just wrong (Tarkan you might want to correct this) as i tried with different emcore versions and i didn’t had any luck what so ever to get it to work. (As soon as i installed emcore i can’t write anything anymore on the msata.) So i would love to hear about the findings on what versions, with what hardware works, as i’m still without a working iPod and i don’t want to waste another 200 bucks for an adapter and diskspace before i know which way it really works. Thanks!

    1. Tarkan

      I have got a 6g here and my 1Tb 840EVO is free now, so I am going to attempt this, so I can provide some feedback to you guys.

      I have so far failed on the first hurdle – my computer is refusing to open or create the UMSBoot drive, I have done this on this machine before, but I have since replaced the motherboard!!!!

    2. Richard Barnard

      Hi, i have now managed to get a iPod 6g with a 256 sandisk msata drive working with emcore/Rockbix. I had to install Linux as a VM and follow the Linux instructions on the emcore website. The only 2 versions I could make work are the r703 version (but this wouldn’t mount via usb!) and the usbfixcandidate version which I found by googling. Be sure to use the correct version of rickbox though as I think later versions are not compatible. All attempts to mount the umsboot under Windows 10 failed, but I think someone already stated it only works under win7? Hope this gives you some clue. I’m only installing rockbox to be able to use the full disk so don’t really mind it’s an old version. Also thank you Wildman for your assistance, some of the websites proved useful.

  13. WildmaN

    Hello Richard;

    Well I looked at your post on October 3rd and you mentioned you were running an msata 256gb drive. Which I am running a 512gb Sandisk sdxc card. I know they are different, because when I had the 512gb msata drive I couldn’t get Rockbox to work on the Classic. Whether it be the 6g or 7g. Which is the main reason I got rid of that ssd. Because I could only get it to work on my the 5.5 Video. Which runs slower than the Classic. So I don’t know if the programs I used on my current iPod would work for you. You can try, if you want to email. And I could send you the ones I used. Let me know what you think on that.

  14. Richard Barnard

    Hi Wildman, I would be interested in which configuration you have used. I finally got r708 to work but after the initial copy across of my files I can’t get the iPod to mount. Each time I try it freezes on me. (It’s taken me three weeks to get r708 to work! See post 3rd October)
    Cheers Richard

  15. WildmaN

    So after a lot of trial and error I got my 160gb fat 6g Classic to work with Rockbox, and use the full capacity of my 512gb Sandisk sd card. It was quite a process, and you must have patience if you want to attempt this. I tried many different Rockbox programs before I got it to work where it wouldn’t cause battery drain, and do the functions I wanted it to do. For example….Being able to make a random shuffle playlist of 32000 songs when I want to was really the biggest thing, as well as the database not crashing on me when I tried to update it.

    Also I want to mention that whenever you add or change any of your music on your iPod. It is easier to just delete the Rockbox program you have on, drag it back in the iPod, and it will automatically update the database and do it faster than telling it to update it. If anybody want more help or tips on this subject feel free to contact me through this site. And I will tell you what Emcore, boot strap, and ubi file I used. As well as what particular Rockbox program has been the most successful so far. I am still in the experimenting stage of this build though. And may try the other Rockbox programs I have. Which I pretty much have all of them. lol

  16. Gabe

    Hi Tarkan,
    Maybe you have an idea for my issue.
    I have the msata adapter with a 7G iPod.
    Did the advisted method with having the msata in the computer, formatted it, turned pc off.
    Did the whole hardware stuff and hooked the ipod back on the pc.
    Restored with itunes. The ipod sees the diskspace without issue, also synchronisation with iTunes works, or manually copy files on it (no errors or such).
    So far, so good. But i prefer to use Rockbox (Had Rockbox with about 5 iPods in the past i think), mainly because of the formats and the EU volume limit.
    So i downloaded your zip and did the emcore/rockbox process. But as soon as i do that, i can’t write on the msata anymore. Not with the emcore disk mode, or the rockbox disk mode. I’m using a Samsung 840EVO – 250Gb.
    Can you reconfirm, that the files you supplied work properly with this configuration (if possible of course), or could you advise what i could do to make it work? I also went ahead and tried the latest rockbox version, sadly no luck. (I achieve that with copying the rockbox files before i apply emcore to the ipod)

    Thanks in advance.

    1. Tarkan

      @Gabe – I don’t use Rockbox at all so not sure the state of mSata and Rockbox on the Classics – You will probably have to try different builds, test the builds here I think they will work for you.

  17. Richard

    Can any one help/shed light. I’ve finally been able to get the .ubi file onto my 6g ipod classic. (had to install Ubuntu on VM) but every .ubi file I try has errors. r859, r692 and r674 all have various errors. Usually “undefined instruction at 0800 0008!”. The closes i’ve been to working is r708 where it gets to the booting stage and just hangs. The one included in the download link on this page says its an empty .ubi file.
    Any help would be appreciated. (I’ve installed a 256gb msata drive)

  18. Chris Burck

    So, despite all the above, I *have* been able to use the iPod, and I’ve noticed that some songs have skips and repeats that sound like recording errors. But as far as I can tell, none of the original mp3 files on my pc have those artifacts. No skips, no garbles. They sound fine.

    Yesterday, while playing around with iTunes and disk mode and so on, trying to coax it to take my whole library, it reached a point where the music just stopped loading, so I cancelled the process. I then saw that the song where it hung, was showing on the iPod, so I tried playing it back. Partway through the song, the music changed to something that isn’t even in my library.

    To me, all of this suggests that either the hard drive is bad, or the memory/storage controller (if there is actually a discrete IC performing this task) is bad. I have no idea how to tell the difference.

    I purchased one of your iFlash Dual units, and am shopping now for an SD card.

    HOWEVER, I’d really like to avoid wasting any more time on this if I can. Based on all of what I’ve been describing (which is long winded, I know, and probably poorly explained), do you think I’m on the right track? Or should I just cut my losses and buy another iPod?

    1. Tarkan

      @Chris – H2Testw would still be a good thing to run, it is not designed just for flash – it can be used for normal spinning HDD’s. It is the only way to confirm that what is written can be read back with no errors.

      As you are getting an iFlash board, you may as well test that on the iPod and confirm if the problems are present still.

  19. Chris Burck


    I looked up H2TestW, and based on the blurb, I think you may have forgotten that my iPod is still on HDD storage? Verifying the size of a flash card doesn’t help with my HDD. ; )

    I did some searching for freeware HDD diagnostic/repair tools, and could not find anything that specifically said that it would perform diagnostic and repair of hard disk drives. I must be doing something wrong, because surely there must be such a software?

    BUT, I *did* go into terminal and run chkdsk /f /r /x (I may not be typing that correctly from memory), and it reported nothing. No errors, no bad blocks. Nothing.

    Also, somebody on another form suggested I might be having a timeout problem, and that connecting the iPod direct to the motherboard (instead of on the front panel of the PC), might solve the problem. It didn’t.

    When syncing, it will now get past 246 songs, but only by a little (maybe 255-260 songs), and now there is a different error message [-69] (session BIOS limit exceeded?). Also, it’s telling me that it’s the wrong volume, and I’m also getting “Please insert a disk into E:”.

    Anyway, see my next message.

  20. Nikita

    Thanks Tarkan, for my 500 Gb Rockbox Ipod 7g? I’ve been running Rockbox with emcore bootloader for around a year, now I decided to have an upgrade for a bigger drive. I only had to format the partition with emcore tools and put my rockbox folder and stuff back in place, and in runs ok now. The ssd is a samsung 850. Of course there are some glitches and freezes occasionally, but it was expected as rockbox isn’t really stable on classics. Now I’m going to look for a battery upgrade?

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