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. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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???

  4. 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….

  5. 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

  6. 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

  7. 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)

  8. 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).

  9. 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.

  10. 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).

  11. 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.

  12. 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,

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. Pete


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

  16. 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).

  17. 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.

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