If you can't stand the native operating system on your portable MP3 player, you can make it rock out with Rockbox. Rockbox Utility is an installer program that simplifies the complicated installation process of the open-source MP3 player firmware. While the firmware itself can be seen as a first step toward returning control of the portable device to audiophiles, the Rockbox Utility is as large a leap as going from a typewriter to a computer.
Compatible with more than two dozen MP3 players, including most iPods, iRivers, and Archoses, Rockbox comes with a detailed and lengthy installation and usage guide. The old autoinstaller was rarely successful and more often a waste of time. The Utility turns the installation process into something that almost anybody can do. Although users can resort to the old manual install if they like, there's no reason to not use the Utility. Fire it up and you're greeted by an intentional error: you must choose the device that you're going to load Rockbox on to. From there, the interface guides you through a series of options, including a full install, a stripped-down version, and various customizations organized by tabs. There's even an autouninstaller, if you decide that Rockbox isn't for you.
Rockbox itself is impressive. Besides being skinnable, it comes with dozens of games and productivity plug-ins like a chess clock, a drawing program, and a feature called Voice for users who have vision difficulties. The sound settings are completely customizable, from bass, treble, and balance to dithering and more complicated equalizing. You can also create CFG files for different setups, so you can have one for your car and one for your headphones. MPEG videos are supported on players with native video capability, and fonts can be sized to your liking.
Rockbox still takes some getting used to, but we think it makes an excellent options for audiophiles who feel constrained by immutable defaults.
Rockbox is open-source replacement firmware for MP3 players. It runs on a number of different models: Archos Jukebox 5000, 6000, Studio, Recorder, FM Recorder, Recorder V2 and Ondio; iriver H100, H300 and H10 series; Apple iPod 3rd gen, iPod 4th gen (grayscale and color), iPod 5th/5.5th gen video, iPod 1st gen Nano and iPod Mini 1st/2nd gen (Nano 2nd gen is not supported); Cowon iAudio X5 (including X5V and X5L) and M5 (including M5L); Toshiba Gigabeat X and F series (the S model is not supported); SanDisk Sansa e200 and e200R series; and other models are in development. Rockbox is a complete rewrite and uses no fragments of any original firmwares.
Version 1.0.7 introduces the Rockbox Utility, a GUI that helps users install and configure the Rockbox firmware.