HFS+ Formatted iPod Under Linux

Recently, I acquired a second-hand iPod. Once back home, I noticed that the previous owner must have had a Macintosh operating system, since the data partition’s file system was HFS+ with journaling enabled. Unfortunately, the Linux kernel does not support mounting HFS+ partitions in read-write mode when journaling is enabled (just read-only, like NTFS). Even less fortunate: to disable journaling without formatting you need a Macintosh computer. To restore the iPod to its factory settings, you need either a Windows or a Macintosh computer. Least fortunate: I only have a Xubuntu computer. Luckily, though, there is a solution.

The iPod’s operating system will restore the directory-structure on the data partition if it is formatted. In other words, you can just reformat the data partition as HFS+ (without journaling) to have write support under Linux.

Plug in your iPod, unmount it if it is auto-mounted, and create a HFS+ filesystem like this:

mkfs.hfsplus -v iPod /dev/sdXn

Where /dev/sdXn is the data partition of your iPod: X is the letter assigned to it (grep through /var/log/messages) and n is the number of the data partition (3 on an iPod video). Giving it the label iPod causes auto-mount to mount it under /media/iPod, which is where most software that interacts with your iPod expects it to be mounted by default.

Now unplug your iPod (eject /dev/sdX) and reboot it. If everything went well, you now have a fresh HFS+ formatted iPod that you can read and write to under Linux!

Date: 2009-05-19

Copyright © 2009 Hraban Luyat