Apple makes iPod for Mac and Windows, but not for the open source operating system Linux. Because of this, Linux developers began working on an iPod solution for Linux. When developers began testing Linux with iPod it was partly just to see if it could work. It did. However, initially there was no real need for it and no benefits for users who installed Linux onto their iPods. They just simply had two operating systems on their iPod were the Apple firmware and iPodLinux. Once the concept was proven, more work was done to tweak the system and its capabilities. Now, installing Linux on the iPod is a way to add capabilities and enhancements beyond the basics.
Podzilla is the name for the standard iPodLinux interface. It is similar to the Apple interface but has a crisper font and switches between menus between one and two seconds faster because there is no animation for menu changes. Once of the cons is that the Linux operating system uses more battery.
The iPodLinux includes an Extras menu that expands to four other items. First, is the Recording Menu that allows you to do Mic or Line in Record. Line In recording is for recording the audio output from other sources. This enables you to make instrumentals of your favorite songs without having to buy a program to do it on your Mac or PC. With Mic recording you can use the left earbud of the iPod headphones and record mono audio at up to 96 kHz. Using the Apple firmware, you are able to create recordings as well, with an add on device that must be purchased and at only 8 kHz. Once you have recorded audio on your Podzilla, the recordings are saved as WAV format. They can then be downloaded to your Mac or PC later and converted into a different format if desired. The next two menu items are the Calendar and Calculator. These are not significantly different from the Calendar and Calculator that come installed with the Apple firmware. Last is the Games Menu. The Podzilla comes with 5 games are Asteroids called Steroids, Othello, Tetris , Pong, and Minesweeper. Now, you have options if you get tired of listening to music on long trips.
Another feature of Podzilla is the File Browser. This function allows you to see all of the files on the iPod, even the hidden ones. It can also display GIF, JPEG, and BMG files in black and white. This is a feature that earlier generations of iPod did not have. Surely, it does not turn it into an iPod photo, but it can be useful for looking at diagrams and other simple drawings. Since images are displayed with 2 bit grayscale, those with a lot of contrast will look better on the Podzilla than those with subtle color distinctions. Podzilla can display text files as well.
Installing the iPodLinux operating system on your iPod does not delete the Apple firmware that comes installed on the iPod. Both operating systems can co exist on the iPod without any trouble. It is possible to re boot the iPod in either system if you wish.
this project is an open source project, which means that the source code is published and made available to the public. Anyone can copy, modify, and redistribute the source code without paying fees or royalties. One of the things that makes open source successful is that it is a community effort. One of the cons is that enhancements may not happen as frequently and the software may be buggy.
it has some great nice to have features, but is still working on perfecting the ability of Podzilla to play music as well as Apple of firmware. Songs do not play at the same quality and can sometimes skip. If you attempt to play a game while listening to a song, the song will stop. It is not a big problem as you can easily switch between the operating systems to play games and listen to music.
Linux developers are constantly working to improve the iPodLinux software. Developments are underway to provide the capability to watch video on 1, 4 Generation iPods and to allow Game Boy games to be played on the iPod as well. Since Apple is not a part of the effort, the developers are figuring out how to make these enhancements through a little reverse engineering and a lot of trial and error.