posted by Vladyslav Mukherjee on Fri 1st Sep 2006 15:33 UTC
IconRockbox is a replacement firmware for various audio players, that opens up new features and fixes devices shortcomings. We don't think of these devices as personal computers, but they are; and Rockbox is an alternative operating system. This review focuses on Rockbox as a replacement "OS" for the iRiver player.

Introduction

The Rockbox system was initially designed as a replacement firmware for the Archos Jukebox and Ondio series of audio players. However, the Rockbox team soon ported their firmware to the iRiver Hx00 and Apple's iPod series of players. The review will focus on a custom version of the Rockbox firmware running on an iRiver H340 player. While many of things mentioned in this article that are relevant for the iRiver are also applicable to the iPod, but for those of you who would prefer a review that focuses on the iPod, I suggest checking out Newsforge's article on Rockbox.

Installation

The installation is pretty straightforward as long as you follow the installation guide for the iRiver Hx00 series. The first step of the procedure is to install the Rockbox bootloader, which allows you to dual boot between the Rockbox firmware and iRiver's vanilla firmware. This is done by patching the vanilla firmware and installing it onto the player. In order to actually load the Rockbox firmware, all you have to do is copy the latest Rockbox build onto the hard drive and restart the player. However, I would suggest using the latest optimized builds from www.misticriver.net. Don't forget to get the additional fonts pack or your screen might look really messed up. Unlike the official CVS version, this optimized build allows for the use of colour within the file browser, not only in certain applications and the while playing screen. Prepare for a stable '3.0' release in the near future.

Quick Start Guide

Some users might find that the interface used by Rockbox is a bit intimidating and hard to use. However, after a short period of time you get used to Rockbox's choice of keyboard navigation. In order to avoid problems with navigation and configuration it is better to download the Rockbox manual for the H300 series (direct pdf link). It's written in a well-organized manner and it is quite in-depth. The first thing that you might want to do is get a better choice of themes. As you can see the default theme used by Rockbox is worse than the one provided by iRiver.

Rockbox's default theme Official iRiver theme
A comparison of the default Rockbox theme and the official iRiver theme.

A sufficiently large theme pack can be downloaded from here. Just copy the relevant folders in the "rockbox" directory. I suggest using the Arctic Desert theme. Although people used to the theme in official iRiver firmware can try the h300-rmx theme. If you feel like making your own theme, I suggest that you check out this guide. More complex while playing screens that display album art are certainly a possibility.

The Arctic Desert theme in action The Arctic Desert 'While Playing Screen'
The Arctic Desert theme in action.

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