name = Rockbox
caption = iPod Video using default theme
developer = The Rockbox Project
supported_platforms = Various Digital Audio Players
Graphical user interface
Embedded operating systems
released = unknown
latest_release_version = 3.0
September 23, 2008and current build Daily
Firmwarereplacement for digital audio players
programmed_in = C,
GNU General Public License
website = [http://www.rockbox.org/ www.rockbox.org]
Rockbox is a
free softwarereplacement for the firmwareheld on various forms of digital audio players (DAPs). Rockbox offers an alternative to the host device's operating systemfirmware (in many cases without removing the original firmware) which provides a plug-in architecture for adding various enhancements and functionality to DAPs which are not present in the original OS. Enhancements include PDA functionality, applications, utilities, and games. Rockbox can also retrofitvideo playback functionality onto DAPs first released in mid-2000. Rockbox also includes a voice-driven user-interface suitable for operation by blind and visually impaired users.
Rockbox runs on a wide variety of portable audio devices with very different hardware abilities: from early
Archosplayers with 1-bit charcell-based displays to modern players with high resolution color displays, digital optical audio hardware and advanced recording capabilities.
Released under the
GNU General Public License, Rockbox is free software.
The Rockbox project began in late 2001 and was first implemented on the early
Archosseries of hard-disk based MP3players and player/recorders, including the flash-only model Ondio, because of owner frustration with severe limitations in the manufacturer-supplied user interface and device operations. These devices have relatively weak main CPUs and instead offload music playback to dedicated hardware MP3 decoding chips (called the MAS). Rockbox, therefore, was unable to significantly alter playback capabilities. Instead, it offered a greatly improved user interface and added pluginfunctionality not present in the factory firmware. Rockbox is capable of being permanently flashed into flash memory on the Archos devices, making it a literal firmware replacement.
Versions of Rockbox have since been produced for more sophisticated devices. These perform audio decoding in
software, allowing Rockbox to potentially support many more music formats than the original firmware as well as bringing the extensibility and increased functionality already present in the Archos ports. Rockbox is run from the hard disk on these devices, after being started with a custom bootloader, so to upgrade Rockbox users need only copy the files onto the player's drive and restart the device. Reflashing is only necessary when changing the bootloader, and on some platforms, is not required at all.
The first of these ports, beginning in late 2004, was for the ColdFire-powered devices manufactured by
iriver, focusing on the H1xx series of hard drive players (H110/H120/H140). Approximately one year later a port for the H3xx series became functional, offering similar functionality.
In late 2005, work began on a port of Rockbox to Apple iPod portable players. Throughout 2006, Rockbox ports were made available for a variety of iPod models (
iPod photo, iPod nano, iPod 4g, iPod mini, and iPod Video), as well as the CowoniAUDIO X5 series. As of February 2007, usable ports are also available for the iriver H10 and Toshiba GigabeatF & X series. As of March 5th, 2007, a new port for the CowoniAUDIO M5 became functional. On March 11th, 2007, the SanDisk Sansae200 series became the next addition to the Rockbox lineup. On May 23rd, 2007, support for the iPod video 80 GB model was added, completing the iPod video lineup. On July 27, 2007, initial support was added for the iPod 1G and 2G. On September 23, 2007, the Sansa c200 series was welcomed into the lineup. On March 18th, 2008, the Olympus became the first new port of 2008, and the iAUDIO M3 joined the lineup days later. Rockbox now includes video-support for MPEGplayback through the included work-in-progress mpegplayer plugin.
To date, all Rockbox ports have been accomplished by reverse engineering with little or no manufacturer assistance. However, as free software, many Rockbox developers and supporters hope to eventually see official manufacturer support for new ports, or at least unofficial assistance in porting Rockbox to new devices. To date, only a few companies have expressed interest in Rockbox, and none have officially contributed code to the project or included it with their hardware. The Sansa port is the first to be started at the request of the hardware manufacturer who gave the Rockbox team samples of their devices.
Rockbox is continuously developed, with new SVN builds being released after every source change.
Subject to the limitations of each particular platform, the appearance of Rockbox can be customised in various ways. Fonts and foreground and background colours can be added and selected, while a simple
markup languagecan be used to create themes for the menu and while-playing screens. These themes can include background and other images (such as icons), plus various formats for filenames, ID3 tags, file progress, time and system information. Album art (though rudimentary -- it does not support embedded album art and only the BMP file format) has become official as of November 11, 2007.
Rockbox has been essentially a file-tree based player, to which folders could be dragged and dropped, then navigated by folder structure. More recent versions, however, have included a database feature which allows the player to compile information from the files'
ID3 tags. The user can then navigate the files using this database regardless of file structure.
Rockbox on software decoding platforms (non-Archos) supports playback (depending on how you count them) of eight lossy codecs, five lossless, two uncompressed and four miscellaneous formats. This makes a conservative total of 19 supported audio formats, although a few of them do not operate in realtime on all platforms.
MPEG audio layers I-III (
MP3/MP2/ MP1), Ogg Vorbis, MPEG-4 AAC, Musepack, AC3, WMA, Speex, and the lossy portion of WavPackhybrid files are supported lossy formats. Lossless formats include FLAC, WavPack, Shorten, Apple Losslessand Monkey's Audio. Rockbox plays Intel-style WAVand Apple AIFF uncompressed audio. In addition, there are playback of game audio types ADX, SID, NSF, SAP and SPC. The MOD trackerformat is also now supported. [As of revision 17595 (12:19, 21 May 2008 (UTC))]
Note that Monkey's Audio support is in the early stages with only the lowest compression settings playing in realtime on most devices. Also note that any file with DRM scheme will not play in Rockbox.
Beside the ability of playing and recording audio files, Rockbox offers many playback enhancements that other firmwares may not have implemented yet. Listed below are a handful of these features.
Replay GainSoftware decoding targets only]
* 5 band fully parametric equalizer
* OTF ("on the fly") playlists
* True random shuffle (fresh randomly shuffled list every time)
* Custom UI themes
* Stereo recording to
WAV/ AIFF/ WavPack(lossless) and MP3 [MP3, WavPack and AIFF are available on non-Archos devices. Multiple sample rates and bitrates available (hardware-dependent).] (supporting devices)
FM radio, including FM recording (supporting devices)
* Remote control (supporting devices)
SPDIFinput/output (supporting devices)
Last.fmsupport (even on players lacking RTC)
* Cue sheet support
* Changeable selector bar
* Album art [Some limitations. Details at Rockbox Wiki [http://www.rockbox.org/twiki/bin/view/Main/AlbumArt] ]
* Sleep timer
Rockbox developers can create
plug-ins, which provide the user with other enhancements that may not be available on various firmwaremodules.
Available plug-ins include:
JPEGviewer (16 bit color/129 shade greyscale) [129 shade greyscale is achieved on 1 bit and 2 bit (4 shade) greyscale targets due to exploitation of the slow passive LCD refresh rate.]
Game Boyemulator (port of Gnuboy) [Rockboy supports original Game Boy and Game Boy ColorROMs.]
ZX Spectrumemulator (port of Spectemu) [ZXBox emulates ZX Spectrum 48. The original site of Spectemu. [http://www.inf.bme.hu/~mszeredi/spectemu/] ]
* "Doom" (port of the
* WAV to MP3 encoder
* WAV to WavPack encoder
MPEGvideo playerThe mpegplayer plugin supports MPEG-1and MPEG-2video streams with MPEGaudio (layer II/III) multiplexed into .mpg files with no hard limits on frame rateor bitrate. Files must be encoded at native screen resolution. Seeking is now implemented. [http://www.rockbox.org/twiki/bin/view/Main/PluginMpegplayer] ]
* PictureFlow, an album art viewer similar to Apple's Cover Flow
* Various games including
sudoku, solitaire, minesweeper, pong and many others (see http://www.rockbox.org/twiki/bin/view/Main/PluginIndex for an official list of plugins)
* MIDI player, realtime on some targets. Requires external instrument set, available on Rockbox page.
Rockbox development is always ongoing. However, either due to the lack of support from external
companiesor platform drawbacks, Rockbox has a few features which are not yet implemented.
Digital rights management(or Digital Restrictions Management) (intentionally unimplemented)
* USB host capability ("
Rockbox uses a simple kernel, [ [http://www.rockbox.org/twiki/bin/view/Main/RockboxKernel About the Rockbox kernel] ] with a
flat memory model(allowing it to run on platforms without a memory management unit) and single process. Thin threads run cooperatively, returning control to a scheduler that prioritizes the audio thread; the only form of preemption is through interrupts. The operating system and plugins are written in C, with assembler used for device- and platform-specific code, in addition to performance sensitive code. The simple and lightweight architecture allows Rockbox to run on a variety of targets, with memory ranging from 1 to 64 MB, and CPU speeds ranging 12 to 532 MHz. Rockbox also provides limited support for multicore and asymmetric multiprocessor systems.
Only Archos devices have been declared to be officially supported in a release. The following should be considered to be a list of devices that at least substantially work (listed as "Supported" or "Usable" on the Rockbox wiki Device Chart). See the [http://www.rockbox.org/twiki/bin/view/Main/DeviceChart Rockbox Device Chart] for details.
Archos Jukebox series:
** Jukebox 6000
** Jukebox Player/Studio
** Jukebox Recorder
* FM Recorder
* Recorder v2
* Ondio FM
* Ondio SP
* X5 and X5L
* M5 and M5L
* M3 and M3L
* iPod 1st generation
* iPod 2nd generation
* iPod 3rd generation
* iPod 4th generation (Grayscale)
* iPod 4th generation (Color/Photo)
* iPod 5th and 5.5 generation (Video)
iPod mini1st generation
* iPod mini 2nd generation
iPod nano1st generation
* Gigabeat F series (F10/F11/F20/F21/F30/F31/F40/F41/F60)
* Gigabeat X series
* Sansa e200 series
* Sansa e200r series
* Sansa c200 series"v2" versions of the Sansa are not yet supported.
Ports in development
Rockbox is developed by users of various portable players. Users interested in porting Rockbox to their platform are always welcome to join development efforts. [http://www.rockbox.org/twiki/bin/view/Main/NewPort] In principle, any device based on a CPU with a GCC port is a possible target for Rockbox; however, devices that are based on components already used by existing rockbox ports are easiest to develop. Devices based on parts with no public documentation or that aggressively protect their firmware with hash checking or encryption are more difficult to port.
Work on Rockbox for the
iPod nano(second and third gen), iPod Touch, and the iPod Classic (sixth gen) has not begun due to firmware encryption that Apple places on all new iPods.
Toshiba Gigabeat S
Work on a port to the Toshiba
GigabeatS is nearly complete. The display driver, disk access, USB and audio playback now work. A more user friendly method of installation is being worked on.
The Gigabeat S port, once in a functional state, might allow the Gigabeat V and T series to join the lineup with minimal effort. Both the V and T series are largely based on the hardware platform of the S series.
Creative ZEN Vision:M
A port to the Creative
ZEN Vision:Mis in progress. Some initial work has been committed to SVN.
A functional port for the ZEN Vision:M would allow a port to the Zen Vision and the ZEN Vision:W to join the lineup, as the three devices share much of the same hardware.
As of April 21st 2008, a Rockbox developer, mcuelenaere, has succeeded in booting Rockbox on a Zen Vision:M. The controls on the player have yet to be implemented. See [http://forums.rockbox.org/index.php?topic=3320.525] for more information.
A port to the iFP-xxx flash-based devices (starting with the iFP-790) is underway. It runs, but development no longer appears to be active. Limited memory and CPU power prevent it from playing most formats. An open source emulator to aid in development for the iFP is available. [ [http://www.rockbox.org/twiki/bin/view/Main/IriverIfpPort The iFP port page] ]
Tatung Elio TPJ-1022
The Elio TPJ-1022 is another PortalPlayer based target with initial work that has been committed to SVN. Development on this port is currently inactive.
Philips GoGear SA9200
Some recent SVN activity has shown that a port for the Philips GoGear SA9200 series is in the works.
Olympus m:robe 500
A small flurry of recent SVN activity has indicated that a port to the m:robe 500 series is being worked on. It is stated that this will open the way for some new targets.
Rockbox does boot and play audio on the m:robe 500, and work on getting the touchscreen fully working is underway. No official builds have been released yet.
An effort has begun to port Rockbox to players utilizing the series of
TelechipsSoCs (system-on-a-chip). A large number of players including the iriver clix2, iAudio 6/7/T2/F2, Cowon D2, various models of the Samsung Yepp, the Logik DAX, SanDisk Sansa c100 and m200, and many generic or regionally-branded devices utilize these chipsets. [ [http://www.rockbox.org/twiki/bin/view/Main/TelechipsInfo Rockbox TelechipsInfo wiki page] ]
Of all of the listed players above, the devices with any significant work done for them and added to SVN are the Cowon D2, iAudio 7, Sansa m200, c100, and Logik DAX. Of these, only the D2 and iAudio 7 have audio playback, but are not listed as "supported" due to incomplete NAND drivers.
[http://www.rockbox.org/twiki/bin/view/Main/RockboxPlayer Rockbox Player] is an ongoing effort to design and build a Free/Open hardware audio player and recorder, for use with Rockbox firmware.
* [http://www.rockbox.org/ The Rockbox Project]
* [http://lwn.net/Articles/183931 LWN.net: Waiting for Rockbox 3.0]
* [irc://irc.freenode.net/rockbox #rockbox] on freenode
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