I've installed Ubuntu on someone's laptop who is a heavy itunes user (having itunes on a bunch of different Apple devices).

She has a large music collection in the form of folders that contain mp3 files. She is accustom to using iTunes (on windows Vista) to import these songs into iTunes for each of her Apple devices. We've replaced Windows Vista with Ubuntu though, at this point.

When I plug the iPhone into Ubuntu via a USB port, I can see the file system of the iPhone, and I've discovered that iTunes is placing music files at this location: /iTunes_Control/Music/F02/NHLI.mp3 (for example)

Unlike music players that I use, iTunes practically takes ownership of the music files you import into it. It changes all the music's file-names, and then maps to them with some proprietary database.

What's crazy, is that I can actually move a folder of MP3s onto the file system of the iphone (or her iTouch), but I cannot discover a way to play the files! I can't even find an application on the device that even allows it to navigate its own file system!

Any of the music players I've ever used, always had the ability to import files located on the local file system into its music library, so you could then create playlists.

I've tried to install iTunes onto Ubuntu using playonlinux, but this didn't work for me. I've also tried installing iTunes onto a Windows XP virtualbox virtual machine, but I had great difficulty getting the iDevices to pass through to the virtual machine to utilize iTune's sync functionalities.

I don't even like either of these ideas above. What I'd like the ability to do is this:

1) Move a folder of MP3s onto the iDevice (iphone iWhatever).

2) Use an application on the iDevice itself, to import those mp3 files into iTunes.

Any suggestions are appreciated.


If the iPhone has an iTunes DB version greater than 4, then it is currently not possible to add music to the iTunes library using a Linux only solution. DB version 5 introduced an encrypted iTunes library, and the Linux community supported libraries do not currently offer support for this. It is very likely that the iPhone in question has a DB version of 5 or greater, since all phones from the iPhone 4 onward do.

You can check the iPhone's DB version by plugging it in to the Ubuntu computer via USB and running the following command in the terminal:

ideviceinfo -q com.apple.mobile.iTunes -k DBVersion

Linux support for music synchronization is listed as WIP. You can check the current state of support on http://libimobiledevice.org. Scroll down to Status section and check "Music/Video Synchronization"


Congratulations on ruining someone's workflow!

The iDevice setup is based around being tied to a music management system which does more than a simple filesystem. It syncs metadata, playlists, play counts, etc so that you can have smart playlists and the actions you take on the device can be reflected in your music management system.

Amarok and Banshee are both applications which are designed to do music management in a roughly similar way as iTunes. They both can sync with iPods, iPhones, etc. I'd say they are your best bet.

(Just one note of warning: my use of an iPod ended up transforming me from a Linux user to a Mac user, in no small part because iTunes really works well with an iPod or iPhone.)

  • Her priority is on moving mp3s (that she downloads using Ubuntu), onto her Apple devices. We have been able to play the music from the iPhone with these Ubuntu jukeboxes, but haven't successfully moved Music from Ubuntu to the iDevices. – LonnieBest Jul 6 '13 at 5:48
  • Did you try syncing like help.gnome.org/users/banshee/2.2/sync.html.en – Alan Shutko Jul 6 '13 at 14:44

First off, Alan Shutko, your offhanded cutdown was as misinformed as it was rude, not to mention dead wrong. See below link:


  • 3
    While the link might provide an answer it can quickly before outdated. Please include the main points from the link in your answer. Thanks. – Matthew Williams Jun 8 '14 at 7:25

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.