Open-source jams just got easier

Rockbox introduces version 3.0 of its open-source portable MP3 player firmware, and along with it comes a streamlined, simplified installation tool called RockboxUtility.

The open-source firmware for portable music players, Rockbox, just updated to version 3.0. Along with the upgrade, three years in the making, comes the RockboxUtility. This makes it even easier than before to install the firmware on your MP3 player, and is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux.

RockboxUtility is meant to start off with an error. (Credit: The Rockbox Crew)

The first time I looked at Rockbox, its appeal was obvious--especially to iPod users who were less than impressed with Apple's laissez-faire approach to iPod firmware improvements. Who wouldn't like the capability to customize their space-age MP3 player with an old skool retro cassette skin, the capability to enlarge the font size, or having a the device read to you what you were scrolling over? Audiophiles were sure to love the in-depth equalizer, too.

However, the biggest problem was making sure that you configured it properly. The process was complicated and time-intensive, and the old auto-installer was buggy and unreliable. The new RockboxUtility transforms the installation process from a confusing session of manually loading files onto your PMP and then praying that they work into a graphic user interface-based experience, greatly simplified.

The new RockboxUtility simplifies a formerly complicated and buggy installation process. (Credit: The Rockbox Crew)

According to the instructions on the Rockbox Web site, once the Graphic Install has been installed, the process starts off with an error message that warns you that you're starting a new installation. There is the possibility that your MP3 has not been mounted as a drive, in which case you'll need to assign it one. For most people, though, this won't occur. The utility then guides you through choosing the correct MP3 player, and installing the appropriate version of the firmware.

When finished, you'll need to safely disconnect your player and then reboot it. Even though the RockboxUtility streamlines the process, I strongly advise reading the manual before playing around with your new firmware.