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)

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

  1. julien


    I manage to install succeffuly rockbox on my ipod 6th classic, I have an I flash quad with 4 128g sd card but rockbox tell me that I have only 128g on the drive, so I don’t know if it only read one card or he still don’t remove the LBA28 limits. Any idea on that issue

    1. Support

      @Julien – if you restore using iTunes then the partition table / MBR will be set to 128Gb – you need go in to the EmCore Tools menu and format data partition.

  2. Les Trotter

    Having issues with iPod. Computer won’t recognize the iPod. I have the iflash dual. Is there someway to reinstall the software, or reset it?

  3. Sarah

    How long does it usually take until the UMS Drive appears in file explorer?

    Its listed in the device manager almost immediately, but in the actual flile explorer, all I got after an hour was a “usb device(E:) ” with 60 something megabyte. But the icon was still half transparent and trying to open it, crashed the windows explorer.

  4. Adam

    I was running into issues getting EmCore to install properly from Windows 10. It’s possible something else contributed to my issues, but the main thing I did differently when it worked was use the bootstrap file from here instead of the one provided in the guide:

    Hopefully this helps anyone who has issues getting EmCore to install. As a side note, USB reliability with Rockbox is a bit sketchy. It works, but sometimes Windows will stop recognizing it properly and Explorer and anything accessing it stops responding. If always seems to starting working normally eventually. This first happened when I hooked it up to my computer after getting Rockbox going. It took about 5 minutes or so for it to become usable, so keep that in mind when you first hook it up to put music on it.

    I have also been transferring music to it with Winamp, and it has stalled out a few times due to the USB issues i mentioned. The speed is also on the slower side. This all seems to be due to inherent issues with the USB handling of Rockbox. But, it does seem to work quite well, so no complaints really!

    I am using a 120GB classic with the iFlash Dual using 2 256Gb SDXC UHS-I (U3) PNY Elite Performance SD cards. I’m very satisfied with the solution. I mainly wanted to give feedback on the software experience for anyone running into similar issues.

  5. Mark

    Hi – I did put the latest builds on (I’m sure, but I’ll check again) I used Ameoi partition software, but i’ll go back and have a look for the specific emCore tools menu. Thanks for the great support here…

  6. Robert

    I managed to install emCORE v0.2.3 r968 on ym iPod Classic, but I’m stuck at step 12 and cannot get into USB mode. Even the fallback doesn’t boot.
    I meticulously followed the instructions to prepare my 16GB Transcend SDHC card (I know it’s small, but it’s just for testing) with a FAT32 partition, but to no avail. Instead, the iPod gives me the following error:
    ATA: Error 80000000 while reading BBT (sector 0, count 1)
    Any thought would be appreciated. Thanks!

    1. Robert

      Hi Support,

      did that – the restore process in iTunes starts, but then the red “X” is shown in my iPod, and that’s it.

    2. Robert

      Hi Support,

      changed to a 64GB Samsung card – works like a charm!
      Thanks for the support!

    3. Mark

      Same problem for me (2 x 128GB class 10 cards) – I have restored the iPod to original firmware and tried again, but I got the same problem. I put the 80GB apple HD back in and loaded emCore and Lockbox booted fine. Just seems to be the cards it doesn’t like. Could it be a class 10 issue?

    4. Support

      @Mark – Have you tried the latest builds, I posted links in a comment below – can you not even start the fallback? and have you tried formatting data partition under the emCore tools menu?

  7. Mark

    Hi There

    Hopefully this forum will provide the answers 🙂

    I am running a iFlash dual adapter with 2x 128GB class 10 sandisk cards in (both genuine – ran tests on them to confirm). My logic board is an 80GB iPod classic version (2007), so I have tried to put Rockbox on to overcome the LBA28 issue…

    So far so good…

    I have installed emCore, and the boot screen loads (the screen where you can select ‘On/Off’, Rockbox boot, emCore Console or Tools)

    When I select to boot Rockbox, I get the message ‘*PANIC* ATA: Error 80000003 while reading BBT (sector 0, count 1)

    Which, I believe is to do with an MBR problem (can anyone confirm this?)

    So, I have reformatted the cards (FAT32, with new MBR written) but Im getting the same error

    Im running the latest Rockbox software
    Any ideas for a fix on this?

    Thanks in Advance 🙂

  8. bleachershane

    Sorry if I’m putting this in the wrong place but I thought I’d give it a go here as this thread is related to iPod Classics. I’m hunting for a flipcase that will fit the thick 160GB iPod. The case I bought years ago even then wasn’t the right size and the iPod was shoved into it. It’s now tatty and old and is really love a case that actually fit the thick iPods, but I can’t seem to find one from searching eBay. If anyone can help that would be great, and if it makes any difference, I’m in the UK.

  9. Philippe

    I could successfully install the dual adapter + a PNY SD 256 M on my 120G IPOD 6,5G
    For sure it is recognized as a 120 Go only
    I followed the procedure for having the rockbox but it failed

    Just after the “click bootstrap_ipodclassic_itunes.exe.” exe, I had the specific directory in which I copied the ” installer-ipodclassic.ubi ‘ but it was too late because the bootstrap already started and (for sure) did not find the “ubi” file
    After iPod restart, it did not start with the specific boot but in IPod mode so ………no more specific directory

    The only chance was to regenerate the iPod with iTunes

    Any help appreciated

    1. Support

      @Philippe – try another computer – this sounds like an issue with the bootstrap program, which happens on some computers.

    2. Philippe

      Tks for the answer but the situation is worst
      I have now major difficulties to enter in DFU mode. The iPod just reboots each time
      When I succeed,it is not recognised by the pc ( in fact 2 pc) but iTunes can and proposed to reload everything
      So it seems that my tentatives had let something in the bootstrap
      Is it in the SD ? If yes, must I reformat the SD externally ?
      Thank tou for your help

    3. Support

      @Philippe – No with the Classics, the bootloader/firmware is stored in the iPod not on the storage device. I suggest you recover back using iTunes and start again.

    4. Philippe

      This is what I did several times with the same result
      It seems the iTunes recovery procedure does not recover everything !
      After the recovery I have an empty fully operational IPod but with very difficult way to enter in DFU mode
      And no possibilities when I succeed to have the iPod recognised by the PC I used for my first trials
      The good news is that my iPod is functional
      The bad one is that my expensive 256 M SD card is recognised as a 120 only !

  10. Colin

    I’m a bit stuck…

    It’s an ipod 120g

    I get this message on my ipod ‘UMS boot v0.1.0 r674’ and it says I should copy UBI file. Except…

    A window opens on the pc – UMSboot has been launched

    I get a DOS box with this message –
    DeviceIoControl: Error 31: A device attached to the system is not functioning.

    Any ideas or help would be appreciated.

    1. Support

      @Colin – that is a failing in the UMS bootloader program, I never worked out why it does not work the only way I have found around it is to try another computer – and hope it works on that.

  11. canvasfly

    @Support Hello. I have a 7.5G ipod, now with 256GB of dual SDXC goodness. I’ve read some comments on this site regarding dual boot with Rockbox. Does dual boot still only exist for 5G iPods or is there a version of emCore that has dual boot support? I know its on the freemyipod todo list. I couldn’t tell if the folks posting about dual boot were talking about a 5G iPod or the 6-7.5G.

    1. Support

      @canvasfly – As I understand it there is a developer working on dual booting the Classics, not sure if there is an official website for this info and there is no info on the main EmCore website either. The last link I was given for the latest build is here. I have not personally tried this build or any of the other dual-boot builds that have been released – so beware of the risks!

  12. Tommy Gunn

    Loving this site and the iFlash products. Question…it’s not 100% clear to me if this tutorial is only for 6G & 7G classics or if it also includes the 5G’s? Seems that since Rockbox supports up to 5.5G, one could simply install normally (using bootloader + copy .rockbox folder). Am I missing something?

    1. Support

      @Tommy – This guide is only for the iPod Classics (6g and up). For the iPod Video’s (5g/5.5g) jut use the Rockbox installer to install bootloader + .rockbox folder.

  13. Simon

    Thanks for the quick reply! Someone’s going to give my a broken iPod classic, probably a broken hard drive. That’s how I stumbled upon your website. Will probably order one of your PCB’s soon. Still looking into some stuff and still unsure if I’m going to install Rockbox or not, seems like a lot of things can go wrong!

  14. Simon

    Is there more risk of bricking if you have an iFlash installed? Depending on the brand of memory card or just the presence of a iFlash board in general?

    1. Support

      @Simon – risk is the same whatever you have installed original HDD or not – Replacing the original bootloader/firmware with a 3rd Party bootloader is always going to have risks.

  15. AnthonyM

    Hey all, Hopefully someone can help. I cant seem to get to the EmCore help, anyway
    I have an ipod 7th gen I am trying to install rockbox, I held the menu and select buttons until the screen went dead. computer made a bing noise acknowledging a new USB device was hooked up, then it quickly disconnected. On the screen of my ipod is a white box saying “please copy a UBI file” I tried running the bootstrap file, it tells me it cant find a device. What did I do worng, and how can I correct it? Oh BTW now when I re-start the ipod I get the RED X.

    1. Support

      @Shawn – the bootstrap program is very fussy, it can work on some computers and not on others – try another computer or USB ports, also make sure that the iTunes iPod drivers are insalled correctly.

  16. Darryn

    So I have now had to restore again through itunes, this time I have added music through itunes with full success.
    I then go through the emcore process again and only get 37% through adding the first album and it drops off the computer. I’m thinking the SD card is faulty.??? thoughts???

  17. Darryn

    The only step I didnt do was add music via iTunes. The restore all went normal.
    Guess I should have checked the storage drive hey….

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