The world of digital music is now dominated by lots of useful proprietary tools–with Apple’s ruling the roost–but there are also many free open source tools and applications worth looking into. Of these, Rockbox, an open source firmware replacement for MP3 players from manufacturers ranging from Archos to iRiver to Apple, is easily one of the most popular. Lisa originally covered Rockbox in this post, and we covered it again here. Now, in an interview, several of Rockbox’s developers are weighing in on its benefits, its user base and its future.
Rockbox has been around for over a decade, and especially if you have an older MP3 player that you would like to add functionality to, it can greatly improve your digital music experience. It’s essentially like having a more robust operating system on your digital player, and you can even play Doom and other games on it.
Rockbox’s creator, Björn Stenberg, told TechWorld:
“I and a few Haxx friends bought ourselves Archos Jukebox 6000 MP3 players in 2000. Since it used a non-standard USB protocol, it required a custom Windows driver to transfer files. Since I prefer using Linux, I started working on a Linux driver for it which was eventually included in mainline Linux 2.4.8….While we enjoyed our newfound ability to bring our record collection in our pockets (a radical notion back then), soon we started getting frustrated by the limitations and slowness of the Archos jukebox firmware.”
Stenberg also reported that version 3.9.1 of Rockbox, released last year, was downloaded 110,000 times. You can find out much more about the specific developers behind Rockbox here. It’s very clear that they have brought the features to Rockbox that they themselves want to have on their digital music devices.
If you’re interested in trying Rockbox, I recommend starting with an older MP3 player, and there are a lot of tutorial videos online showing how to do the firmware installation. Especially if you love flexibility in managing your digital music, you may quickly become enamored of Rockbox.