Ubuntu / Linux news and application reviews.

All of these require a working setup with ifuse, gvfs, libimobiledevice (aka libiphone) etc as per our previous article. In today's article, StoneCut reviews GTKpod, Rhythmbox, Banshee and Songbird and their current status regarding iPhone/iPod syncing.

1. GTKpod

This is the app that the developers who code the iPhone support use for debugging so it's most likely also the most stable. However, it's also extremely sluggish and can be a real pain to use. On the good side, though, it handles anything music and video related like a champ. Compilations work, Album covers work, Videos work and so on. If any other method fails then you can always fall back on GTKpod. Unfortunately, though, you would usually have to mount the iPhone an extra time under /mnt/iPod via "ifuse /mnt/iPod" or a similar directory for GTKpod to recognize it but GVFS mounts the iPhone elsewhere, so it doesn't work.

On my system I fixed that problem a symbolic link (your Phone needs to be plugged in to create the link):
sudo mkdir /mnt/iPhone && sudo chmod 777 /mnt/iPhone && ln -s /home/stonecut/.gvfs/StoneCut's iPhone/ /mnt/iPod

Next, you can set the /mnt/iPod folder to be used within GTKpod under Edit -> Repository/iPod Options. Set the iPhone mount point to "/mnt/iPhone". Make sure your iPhone is connected during the setup. From here on you can always just launch GTKpod and you won't have to issue another "ifuse /mnt/iPhone" command ever again. You just have to hit that "Read iPod" button (or whatever it's called in English, my GTKpod is localized).

2. Rhythmbox

Rhythmbox works really well for me the past few weeks. You need to import music to your library and then drag'n'drop it from the library to the device, if you drag'n'drop files straight from your file system onto the iPhone in Rhythmbox they won't be added. Next, you'll see a little progress bar stating "copying" in the status bar of Rhythmbox. Do not disconnect the iPhone when it's done. You'll need to wait for up to two minutes afterwards and make sure you actually see the "synchronising" screen on your iPhone. Once that's done wait another minute and make sure it doesn't start synchronising again (may happen if you copy multiple files). Multiple files will be copied with alternate bursts of "Copying" in Rhythmbox and "Synchronising" on your iPhone.

Once it's done synchronising you need to make absolutely sure you properly unmount it everywhere before disconnecting. Do a right-click on your iPhone in Rhythmbox and choose unmount/eject. Next, close Rhythmbox and make sure you umount/eject the iPhone's photo device that may still be connected. Once that's done fire up the iPod app and check if everything worked right.

Using Rhythmbox is much faster than GTKpod, but it's not always as stable. For some people the "Synchronising" screen simply never pops up on the screen. Sadly there's no way to force it in Rhythmbox as there is in GTKpod.

One drawback of Rhythmbox when compared to GTKpod is that it doesn't allow syncing of videos.

3. Banshee

Initially, Banshee worked for me but something must have gotten broken in the meantime. For now, Banshee (even from PPA) doesn't "see" the iPhone/iPod Touch at all. It would be great if they could fully implement iPhone/iPod Touch support since it would probably allow us to transfer Videos like we can with GTKpod. It may be related to a recent namechange of libiphone to libimobiledevice but I tried fixing it with some symlinks and it didn't work. Maybe it will work again in the future. I do remember some issues with songs from compilations showing up as individual albums, though, from my previous test and that drove me crazy since I create compilations with hundreds of songs and don't want to see thousands of albums but just the compilation albums themselves.

This problem doesn't exist with GTKpod and I haven't had any issues with Rhythmbox either regarding this detail yet.

4. Songbird

Songbird does not work for iPhone/iPod Touch sync at all. They apparently use their own libraries which are broken for now. It's a bit of a shame, it most closely resembles iTunes, which (I guess) people would be most familiar with.

So what does this all mean ?!

You should try to use Rhythmbox if it works properly for you. If you run into any issues then try GTKpod. GTKpod is currently also the only solution for copying to your device. Just drag'n'drop the files like you would with your music files.

Once again, a big thanks to StoneCut (and of course, credits for this article). Also, expect a lot more articles from StoneCut on iPhone/iPod and Ubuntu syncing (tips, tricks, etc.)!