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Hardware Hacking Software Linux

New iPod Checksum Cracked, Linux Supported 422

An anonymous reader writes "After 36 hours of reverse engineering, the method for producing the checksum on new iPods has been discovered." You can also get linux support working if that's what you crave for your shiny new toy.
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New iPod Checksum Cracked, Linux Supported

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  • What's the draw? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BadAnalogyGuy ( 945258 ) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Monday September 17, 2007 @10:10AM (#20635833)
    Is it the iTunes store? Is it the sound quality? Is it the looks of the device?

    What makes Apple's offering any better than anyone else's?

    I don't get it at all.

    What I don't get more than that is the people who buy the iPod just to put Linux on it. That actually causes negative understanding.
    • by Poromenos1 ( 830658 ) on Monday September 17, 2007 @10:15AM (#20635881) Homepage
      It's the scrollwheel.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by letxa2000 ( 215841 )

        The scroll wheel actually tends to piss me off. Especially if you're doing something like exercise, it's all too easy to overshoot with the dang scroll wheel.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Poromenos1 ( 830658 )
          That's true, but I'd rather not spend three days pressing the "next" arrow 800 times like I did with my MuVo. Much faster to go to the song's general vicinity and slow down.
        • by JazzLad ( 935151 ) on Monday September 17, 2007 @12:27PM (#20637923) Homepage Journal
          Exercise? You must be new here.
    • by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) * on Monday September 17, 2007 @10:15AM (#20635883)

      What makes Apple's offering any better than anyone else's?

      Integration with iTunes (not necessarily the store), such as syncing Smart Playlists, and 3rd-party accessory support that's an order of magnitude greater than for any other music player.

      • by Poromenos1 ( 830658 ) on Monday September 17, 2007 @10:18AM (#20635915) Homepage
        It's not actually integration with iTunes (it's the most bloated piece of crap I've seen since RealPlayer), but the fact that there is any integration at all, i.e. a database of songs you can search and sort any way you want. Plus there's a really intuitive interface to control it. If there was another company that had that I'd buy its offer, I don't like Apple's overpriced hardware.
      • Integration with iTunes (not necessarily the store), such as syncing Smart Playlists, and 3rd-party accessory support that's an order of magnitude greater than for any other music player.

        You forgot DRM and a quick and dirty Gapless Playback solution.

        If you just want to have some music playing, get an iPod.

        If you want to actually listen to the music the way it was intended to be, put Rockbox on it.
        • At least on my iPod, I can get true gapless playback by simply using an encoding scheme which isn't affected by gaps. That is, either plain PCM or Apple Lossless. Sure, it's not gapless playback of MP3 or AAC but it does the job and the types of music I want to listen to gapless I also usually want to hear in their original fidelity.

          For what it's worth, the older models (I previously had a 2G) would put little gaps in even when playing WAV and didn't support Apple Lossless at all. The new ones (I now ha

        • by yo_tuco ( 795102 )
          "If you want to actually listen to the music the way it was intended to be, put Rockbox on it."

          From Rockbox web site:

          "Rockbox is an open source firmware for mp3 players, written from scratch. It runs on a wide range of players:

          Apple: iPod 3rd gen, 4th gen (grayscale and color), 5th/5.5th gen (video), iPod Mini and 1st gen iPod Nano (not the 2nd gen Nano)"

          Does this mean you're currently SOL for the new releases of the iPod line?

      • by Tacvek ( 948259 ) on Monday September 17, 2007 @12:13PM (#20637695) Journal

        There are some other reasons too. First of all, take iTunes. iTunes may not a real windows-like interface, and some apparently consider the Windows version to be bloated, but it does organize music well, and is easy enough to teach to people who are not computer literate. Some other players have good software, but others have software that is terrible.

        iPod is easy to use. There is no denying that the scroll wheel interface is highly intuitive, and accessing features is fairly easy. Some other player do have interfaces that are just as good.

        The iPod does not have feature bloat. Many other mp3 players have many extra features, but most of the times those features are very poorly implemented, and has the effect of just wasting menu space. These poorly implemented features also tend to drag the perception of the whole player down.

        The headphones. For low to low mid-end earbuds, the ones that come with the iPod are some of the best. Of course, many headphones, or high-end earbuds are better.

        The iPod has many accessories. It is one of the few players to support near full integration with some car head units (receivers).

        It's name. Tell somebody you want an "iPod Nano" and they will be able to remember the name. There is no part of the name that looks like "z647", which people are quite likely to forget. Even if you wanted to specify the capacity it is still easier to remember. Many of the generations have distinct names like iPod Color, and iPod Video, which are easy to remember.

        It has Apple's reputation for ease of use and reliability behind it. Most of the other closest competitors are marketed under brands with well known poor models, which can really hurt

        The simple fact is that while many players are as good or better in some of those categories, they are lacking in one or more of the others. The combination of these atributes is why the iPod is the leading mp3 player.

        Just a side note: people who are mentioning gap-less playback, please realize that many people have no such albums, and have no interest in this feature, so it should not be surprising that apple waited for so long before implementing.

    • by Andy Dodd ( 701 ) <{atd7} {at} {cornell.edu}> on Monday September 17, 2007 @10:17AM (#20635909) Homepage
      It has a more polished user interface and more third-party accessory support than any other player.

      When shopping for an MP3 player, I considered alternatives (and in fact looked at alternatives first), and in the end went with iPod because:
      1) Most of the alternatives I looked at weren't any cheaper than the iPod
      2) Most of them got slammed in reviews for bad user interfaces
      3) Most of them were not available in B&M stores allowing me to return it easily if I hated the UI.

      In short, in the end the iPod wound up being the "safe bet", and unlike most Apple products, wasn't grossly overpriced compared to the competition. (Disclaimer: This was over a year ago, things may have changed since then.)
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by nsanders ( 208050 )
        Never looked at the Sansa's huh? $50-$100 cheaper, they have a voice recorder, SD expansion (extra 2gb of space!), great accessory choices and a great product. The thing I like most is that there's no "disconnecting" with the Sansa. Just unplug it and go.

        When my iPod died I got a Sansa and I love it. My 10gb Sansa (8gb + 2gb SD) cost $100 cheaper than a 4GB Nano.
        • Sansa what? (Score:2, Informative)

          by penp ( 1072374 )
          I bought a 6gb Sansa (the e200 series) when they came out. I loved it. Until it broke. It turns out a lot of them have a problem with the phone jack, as it's not seated correctly, and plugging in your headphones causes stress on the jack that eventually causes one or both of the channels to go out. This is what happened to mine. I now have a 6gb USB drive that I can play music to one of my ears. People buy Ipods for a reason. They're well built, and have great sound quality (after my sansa died I borrowed
        • another sansa fan here, though i like the m200 players better, as i need something more durable (i have a tendency to forget stuff in my pockets when i do laundry), though the simple interface would get annoying for much more than 1GB of music
      • Re:What's the draw? (Score:5, Informative)

        by walt-sjc ( 145127 ) on Monday September 17, 2007 @10:33AM (#20636105)
        4) Availability of accessories.

        That's huge. You can get iPod interfaces for most higher-end car stereos for example, not to mention the plethora of docks, cases, etc.
    • Re:What's the draw? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Monday September 17, 2007 @10:22AM (#20635967) Homepage
      It's compatability with 3rd party devices.

      I can take an iPod plug it into a connector in my car and completely control it from my steering wheel and see the info on the stereo's display. works perfectly. I can do the same with my Crestron Whole house audio system, my alarm clock, etc...

      No other mp3 player on the market can do that. NONE. Apple opened up the connector interface and had a rs232 control interface down in that connector so other devices can control it, All other mp3 makers sit in the corner curled up screaming "MINE MINE!" or are not smart enough to think about 3rd party control like that.

      That is why I use it, my daughter uses it, and I reccomend the iPod to all my clients what are doing whole house automation and audio integration. Only the ipod can do advanced integration that is seamless from the car to the home to the bedroom. (even the wife if you buy a iGazim attachment)

      That is why.
    • Re:What's the draw? (Score:5, Informative)

      by leuk_he ( 194174 ) on Monday September 17, 2007 @10:26AM (#20636007) Homepage Journal
      I think you do not actually want to put linux on it, i think that the issue here is that the iPod is linux supported, meaning that you can transfer music from and to your linux desktop.

      Linux support is so obvious for 99 out of 100 usb mp3 player out there it is not even worth mentioning. These mp3 players just behave like a generic USB pen disk. That you need a special (circumvention?) program for a iPod is the strange issue here.
      • by Otter ( 3800 )
        The link is about supporting an iPod on Linux, but you can, in fact, install Linux on the device. (You need Linux installed to play Doom -- not sure if that reasoning seems any more sane to the OP, though.)
    • Re:What's the draw? (Score:4, Informative)

      by tgd ( 2822 ) on Monday September 17, 2007 @10:27AM (#20636015)
      Here's a few reasons that are valid to those who don't have Macs anyway (and its a no brainer if you use other Apple products):

      1) Easy connection to cars. My iPod plugs into my truck's (factory) radio, and I get all the music info on there as well as easy browsing of the music. All the factory controls work, and its hidden in the glove box.
      2) Lots of 3rd party speaker/dock solutions.
      3) The iPod camera adapter.

      The iPod camera adapter is really a very under-reported item, I think. I recently was in Alaska and didn't want to bring my laptop with me. My iPod has about 25g of free space on it, and I burned through 2/3 of that pulling pictures each day off my two digital cameras, and was able to use it to show pictures to my family (although it'd be nice if they added RAW viewing to it).

      If you use it as a stand alone player in your pocket, then you're absolutely right.
    • Exactly. Shouldn't the KDE team be putting their development efforts behind an MP3 player that's "Linux friendly", rather than help a company who's trying to screw them over by locking out their products?
    • That's the draw.

      That, and Apple's managing to create the vast market for iPod addons. New cars come with option of being "pre-wired for iPod". You can buy an "iPod-ready" backpack. Various speaker-systems — portable and otherwise, including waterproof ones — come with iPod slots.

      True, many of those accessories will work with any music player, but many would not, or not as well...

    • by Spirilis ( 3338 )
      For me, it's the connectivity. I have an Alpine headunit in my car and a major part of my decision to buy the ipod was the fact that they sold an interface which allows me to dock my ipod such that I can control the ipod's interface through the headunit, while charging it at the same time. I like this because it allows me to use the ipod as an external music source for the headunit, allowing me to continue using the Alpine interface which is far easier to use while driving (IMHO).

      I've heard that they make
    • What makes Apple's offering any better than anyone else's?

      More broadly supported? What everyone else said. Better? Nothing. My wife has a Nano and I have a Sansa e280. Interface-wise, they're nearly identical except that my scrollwheel is an actual rotating disk instead of a touch sensor. Honestly, it basically comes down to taste and budget.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by AmaDaden ( 794446 )
      It's not that the iPod is great it's just that it has nothing major wrong with it. I've seen a lot mp3 players that were ok but had one glaring flaw. Battery life, UI, file accessibility, storage size...etc. Plus at this point there is so much extra software and hardware for it that any other player would have to do a lot to break in to the market.

      What I don't get more than that is the people who buy the iPod just to put Linux on it.

      If you are referring to the story that was not the issue. The problem was

    • The biggest thing is the size. Find any competing device which has the same amount of storage as an iPod classic or iPod nano, and isn't at least 25% bigger.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by RabidMonkey ( 30447 )
      For me, it's iTunes. I know that sounds crazy, but if you get beyond the bloat and horrible interface ...

      I don't have a lot of free time to go hopping from store to store looking for CDs, and I don't listen to regular radio (CBC or bust), so I don't get exposed to a lot of new music. But, when I do have some free time, I can fire up iTunes and checkout music at home, quickly. And, if I like it, in a matter of minutes I can have the music on my desktop and iPod, for less than I would pay in a music store.
    • by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Monday September 17, 2007 @10:50AM (#20636379) Homepage Journal
      The white earbud wires signal to people (especially the cuter ones who can't think so good) that they can have sex with you before they notice that you're a geek with a "LiPod".
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      When I was looking for an MP3 player a few years ago, it had the best price/storage ratio. Everything else I looked at either only had half the storage for around $50-100 less, or was the same and cost $50-100 more. So, I got the 60gb 4th gen iPod. To this day it still works fine, in fact I'm listing to some Static-X on it at the moment. I use it most of the day, even when driving (through the line in port, I had to replace the stereo for that).

      The only thing that was a disappointment with it was the hea
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by metamatic ( 202216 )

      Find me another audio player which:

      • Has good sound quality (please cite reviews)
      • Has a capacity of 80GB or more
      • Plays MP3 and MP4 audio
      • Has an easy to use UI
      • Fits in a pocket

      ...but doesn't require proprietary software, and I might switch.

      If you can't find one, then you've answered your own question.

    • I can't speak for anyone else but for me it came down to capacity, battery life and exclusive iTunes content that got me going with the iPod. Granted, the iTunes content thing can be worked around but the convenience of not having to while looking for a new portable player is a plus.

      As for all the "it's the interface" talk.... I'm still really not sold on it. Not that I'm having a problem with what it can do but rather what it doesn't seem to do:

      1. No track/folder/album repeat.
      2. No exclusive on/off switc
    • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )
      Lots of reasons.
      1. They don't cost a lot more than any comparable player.
      2. The ITunes Store does allow an easy painless way to buy songs. So easy and painless that it is easier to buy them than to get them through P2P a lot of the time.
      3. Integration with car stereos. Just about everyone works with IPod these days.
      4. Accessories. Want a carrying case for it? Just go to any store and pick one out. And I do mean any store. IPod Accessories are everywhere and you can always find one that you like.
      5. They are
  • usable? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by lutz7755 ( 1046792 )

    Does anyone actually use an ipod that runs linux, or is it just a "neat to have" type thing?

  • hopefully (Score:3, Insightful)

    by russellh ( 547685 ) on Monday September 17, 2007 @10:12AM (#20635855) Homepage
    we'll get amarok on the mac soon, too.
  • Having to run commands, compile a prog, and do things manually .... kinda sucks ...

    Cracking the stupidity was half the battle, making it easy to use is the other half.

  • I have the feeling that the DMCA may stop some distros from being able to include this kind of a hack. It does seem to me that it is circumventing some kind of security measure. :-/

    In the end, it was great work to have it done, but I urge people to not buy devices that you have to hack around to make it work the way you want it. There are plenty of open devices that one can use without this kind of hassle.
  • DMCA violation? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mi ( 197448 ) <slashdot-2017q4@virtual-estates.net> on Monday September 17, 2007 @10:22AM (#20635965) Homepage Journal

    I doubt, Apple will tarnish its image by pressing it, but DMCA seems to apply. In fact, it may be out of Apple's hands. IANAL, but they may need to clarify, that they added the new checksum/whatever not to limit whatever it is, DMCA will try to help them uphold, but for some other, non-DMCA protected reason.

    Otherwise, the prosecutors may have to enforce the Act whether Apple wants them to or not...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Chanc_Gorkon ( 94133 )
      DMCA should not be in effect here. First, the hash isn't for copy protection. That much is clear. If it was, then you would not be able to see the song's unless the key was present. Besides, if it's SHA1, it's not very effective for copy protection anyway.

      I bet that the only reason the hash is created is for some database integrity verification the ipod does.....just making sure everything is ok before writing data (play counts) to the database.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Arabani ( 1127547 )

        I bet that the only reason the hash is created is for some database integrity verification the ipod does.....just making sure everything is ok before writing data (play counts) to the database.

        If it really were just about data integrity, they wouldn't need to include the iPod's serial number hash; furthermore, a perfectly good database would work on every iPod, not just the one it came from. Since that is clearly not the case, the logical conclusion is that the hash was added for the sole purpose of locking out 3rd party software.

        It's nice to see Apple's "hard work" broken in such a short period of time, though.

    • Does this crack any security in the device that protects media? I could argue that it does not.
      Specifically DMCA complaints have to involve that it was used as copy protection, what copy protection is this providing?
  • by Tweekster ( 949766 ) on Monday September 17, 2007 @10:27AM (#20636013)
    iTunes doenst even come close to the power of gtkpod

    I hate poorly named mp3s, gtkpod can get my entire ipod properly organized in a matter of minutes because of the nifty variety of views.
    • The phrase "more better" is acceptable English. suck it grammar Nazis
      There. Fixed the subject line for you.
      • Thank you, hah, damn I really should have used that, but I probably wouldn't have received a single comment regarding the article at hand

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by querist ( 97166 )
      Except that even with following the instructions for gtkpod very carefully it still borked my iPod mini. And I lost some music in the process. Sorry. I'm not that confident in 3rd party solutions for my iPod quite yet.

      I am glad that they're still working on it, because I feel that people should be able to do this (on general principle). It's an audio player. I don't see why it is such a big deal to Apple that it only work on OS X and Windows, but that's why I'm a scientist and not a business person.

  • It's not that it's been cracked, but why do this in the first place? Make people mad who use Linux which Apple isn't about to support anyway -- I mean, these are people who might buy iPods and MacBooks in the future, and doing this won't help Apple's cause any.
  • by packetmon ( 977047 ) on Monday September 17, 2007 @10:38AM (#20636199) Homepage
    36 hours... Well after years and years most still have not cracked the method for avoiding the Slashdot effect
  • by victim ( 30647 ) on Monday September 17, 2007 @10:42AM (#20636263)
    The news around the web is all about this being an evil DRM checksum, but given how quickly the generation algorithm was found, isn't it possible that it is an integrity checksum?

    A user can unplug a device at any time, even in the middle of a catalog write. It only seems prudent to checksum the data to make sure you don't have a corrupt file.

    I'd be interested to hear if this is a tricky crypto algorithm, or the sort of simple MD5 or CRC of data that a programmer would whip out for integrity. This is important because if the intent was integrity we can expect it to not change. The problem is solved. If it was intended to detect reverse engineered and possibly incorrect files then we can look forward to more algorithms in the future.

    TFA was silent on the matter. <wtbw> can i hear a fuck yeah? didn't really tell me much.
    • by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Monday September 17, 2007 @10:47AM (#20636339) Homepage Journal

      It only seems prudent to checksum the data to make sure you don't have a corrupt file.

      Well, yeah, but why would you want to actively disable access to the parts of the music library that aren't corrupt simply because some of it might be? It's not as if the iPod will explode (or become more corrupt) because of a bad read.

      I'm having a hard time understanding the justification for this change, both the "It's just to prevent corruption" explanation, and the "It's a conspiracy by Apple against GNOME users" one. In the absence of anything concrete from Apple, it seems all we can do is speculate.

    • by Rosyna ( 80334 )

      A user can unplug a device at any time, even in the middle of a catalog write. It only seems prudent to checksum the data to make sure you don't have a corrupt file.

      Or the user could be using a piece of third party software that writes bad data to the iPod db, causing the iPod to crash when it tries to access said bad data. An integrity checksum would help prevent this as well (assuming said bad software doesn't include a checksum for a bad db write...)

      I, for one, hate it when my iPod crashes and spontaneously reboots while I'm totally in the groove.

    • by ishmalius ( 153450 ) on Monday September 17, 2007 @11:57AM (#20637425)
      A third possibility is that it is for a faster sync with the host. If you maintain hash digests on the ipod and the host, then you can test for equality by just comparing the hashes. If they are identical, then there is no need to sync. You can skip comparing everything else bit-by-bit.

  • Don't forget what might be the real motivation behind said checksum. When devices such as XBOX360 "talk" to the iPod, without authorization from Apple, they now have to break also said checksum, which may be used to (ab)use DMCA and shut off iPod support in XBOX360.

    Or in Linux. While I don't think Jobs will go after the Linux hack, I wouldn't be surprised even for a second if he does: he's pretty aggressive about protecting Apple IP as you know (even from random bloggers out there).
  • What I want is an iPod that can get its audio data from incoming Bluetooth. Then it could just be a "headphone adapter" (with a big cache, excellent DAC and UI) for either my PC, or my phone, or any other (Bluetooth) network device, without the other devices needing a DAC or headphone output (or to be mobile).
  • Just like Windows (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 17, 2007 @11:08AM (#20636655)
    Here is a quick howto on using wtbw's code in linux to use a new generation iPod. I was answering this question repeatedly in IRC, so i decided to post this up:

    1. Download the code.

    2. Plug your ipod in and make sure it is mounted and run:

    sudo lsusb -v | grep -i Serial

    Look for your iPod device, and the firewireID should be the 16 character long hex string shown.

    It should look something like this: 00A1234567891231

    3. Edit main.cpp in the hash_crack directory and read the commetns at the top. You should insert your firewire ID where the comments specify, then run make to compile the hash program.

    4. Next, sync your ipod with gtkpod, rhythmbox, banshee or Amarok, or whatever ur used to just like normal. Once this is complete, you should have an ipod with songs on it, that refuses to view the songs. To make it "see" the songs, u need to run the hash program we just compiled on the iTunesDB file. This should happen something like this: ./gethash /path/to/iPod/iPod_Control/iTunes/iTunesDB

    This should output the proper hash for the current state of the iTunesDB, as well as the old hash for the previous state of the iTunesDB. We just need the first value.
    5. Write this new hash value to the proper location in the iTunesDB where the hash is stored at address 0×58 of the iTunesDB file. This can be done with a program such as bvi.
    Note: You will need to do the process of getting the hash on your iTunesDB every time you even so much as change a song name, or upload new music or video files.

No extensible language will be universal. -- T. Cheatham