How to sync your iPad with Linux

Apple makes some great hardware, but their closed eco system is far from Linux-friendly. Thankfully it can be done - here's how you can use your iPad, iPhone and iPod with your Ubuntu Linux computer…


Working with Music

One of the pop-up windows that appeared when you connected your Apple device to your Ubuntu computer will ask you which application you want to use to manage the music on your device. Two players that have great support for these devices are Rhythmbox and Amarok.

5. Rhythmbox
Rhythmbox is the music player that ships by default with Ubuntu Linux, and is arguably one of the most popular music players on the Linux platform. When you connect your iDevice to you Ubuntu computer and Rhythmbox is running, the device should automatically show up in the Devices list on the left sidebar of the application’s main window. Drag and drop any music you want added to your iPod, iPad or iPhone. One of the missing features in Rhythmbox is that it only allows you to add music to your iDevice and not remove stuff. If you want to be able to remove stuff, you will need to use Amarok.

Rhythmbox displaying the list of music on an Apple iPad

6. Amarok
Amarok is a KDE project and is not included in the default list of packages that gets installed with Ubuntu Linux. You can, however, install it using the command ‘# sudo apt-get install amarok’. Once Amarok is installed, connect your iDevice to your computer. The device should show up under the Local Music sections. To remove a song from your iPod or iPhone, expand the device’s music listing from the Local Music section, right-click on the song and click on the ‘delete’ option in the menu. Wait for a short while as the device syncs with Amarok. Hit OK when asked if you want to proceed with the sync. The selected track should then be deleted.


gtkpod is yet another application for syncing your iPod, iPad or iPhone with Linux. It’s a bit trickier to get going, but considering the fact that the team is working on features such as calendar and contacts syncing, it might just trump all the other tools to become a one-stop shop for all your syncing needs.

7. Get Fuse
Before you can get going with gtkpod, you will need to install the package Fuse and its dependencies on your computer. Ubuntu Linux users can install it by searching for the term ‘fuse’ in the Synaptic Package Manager’s list of available packages. Once Fuse is installed, you will need to edit the file ‘/etc/fuse.conf’. Open the file in your favourite text editor (with sudo privileges) and change the last line from ‘#user_allow_other’ to ‘user_allow_other’ (ie remove the hash sign). Save the file and exit the text editor.

Edit the /etc/fuse.conf to look like this

8. Complete Fuse installation
Now launch the ‘Users and Groups’ manager from the System>Administration menu. Click on the Manage Groups button, find the group ‘fuse’ in the list and hit the Properties button. Check the box with your username on it in the pane that pops up. Click OK and close the windows. You should now have access to Fuse. For all the settings changes you made to kick in, you will need to log out and get back into your account.

9. Install gtkpod
Install gtkpod from Synaptic or by using the command ‘# sudo apt-get install gtkpod’. The application should appear under ‘Applications>Sound and Video>gtkpod iPod Manager’. Now add your iPhone, iPad or iPod to the gtkpod setup by launching on Edit>
Repository/iPod Options item in the menu. Give the repository a name such as ‘My iPad’.

10. Set up gtkpod
Make sure your Apple device is connected to your computer before proceeding. Under your home directory you will see a hidden folder called .gvfs/. Your Apple device will be mounted under this directory with the device’s name. Enter that as the repository mount point in gtkpod. For example, on our computer this path was ‘/home/sukritd/.gvfs/Phoebus iPhone’. Select your Apple device’s model under the list of the models available. Hit Add and OK to complete the setup. On the main window of gtkpod, click on the Load iPod(s) button to have gtkpod fetch all the information from your Apple device. Make the changes you want to make and then hit the Save Changes button to apply the changes to your Apple device.

Enter the path of the location where your Apple device has been mounted, and the model, correctly

Continue to page 3 – working with photos & video

Linux User & Developer is the magazine for the GNU Generation
Click here to try 3 issues for £1

[twitter username=”linuxusermag”]