When you buy a Windows computer there’s a good chance that if you’d prefer to run a different operating system you can install a GNU/Linux distribution. Likewise you can replace the operating system on many Android phones with a custom ROM. There’s even custom firmware for some routers… and for some MP3 players (or digital audio players if you have a model that supports other file formats.

For the past 15 years, the folks behind Rockbox have been offering a free and open source replacement for the firmware on some digital audio players.

And now the team has released the first major update in 4 years.

Rockbox 3.14 adds stable support for additional models (mostly older media players), offers much better battery life on some devices, file system and database performance improvements, and configurable screen lock and backlight options.

There are also a number of other performance improvements and several new plugins including a periodic table, a 2048 game, and a one-time password manager plugin.

Supported devices include older iPods, and a number of media players from SanDisk, Archos, Cowon, iRivier, MPIO, Olmpus, Samsung, and Toshiba, among others.

via Hacker News

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6 replies on “Rockbox custom firmware for MP3 players gets first major update in 4 years”

  1. Rockbox is one of those community miracles that actually does what it’s asked to do: being efficient, while being customizable. Not mentioning it is eco-friendly, considering the targeted devices. Stark contrast to throwaway phones of recent years.
    Give me a light, budget player for jogging, where I can play music (and can speed/slow it down), while time-keeping laps and I will gladly consider leaving Rockbox behind 🙂

  2. I had SanDisk MP3 players for years. Probably at least 4 of them. That was the problem. They would work for a while (a year or two) then die. I finally just bought a Moto E smartphone. It is one of those $29 prepaid jobs that I just never connected to the service. It was as cheap as a MP3 player and more convenient for how I use it. It lives in my car and stays plugged into power. Once in a while I will turn on wifi when the car is in my driveway and it automatically downloads more podcasts for me to enjoy.
    I gave Rockbox a try once on one of my failed SanDisk MP3 players but it didn’t work. I am guessing the problem was in the hardware, not software related.

    1. I’ve had 2 Sansa Clips, one lost, one still working after 7 years (last year I replaced the battery though, and the OLED is dying). So I wouldn’t blame the hardware.
      Yes, twice, thrice a year it needed a hard reset. But that goes for most electronics we own, doesn’t it.

  3. What an odd headline to see in 2017. I messed around a little bit with Rockbox on my old SanDisk Clip, maybe 7-10 years ago. I wanted to try something different since SanDisk’s existing OS struggled mightily with large microSD cards (taking 15-30 minutes to boot). But RockBox just wasn’t stable, and I abandoned it as an option.

    And here we are, a decade later. Standalone MP3 players aren’t even really a thing anymore, yet here we have a new release. I’m not sure whether to applaud their tenacity or wish they had spent that time working on something that would still be useful upon its release.

    1. I wouldn’t go so far as to say MP3 players aren’t a thing anymore… Just off the top of my head Apple, Cowon, SanDisk, and Sony all still actively market MP3 (or ‘digital media’) players – along with several specialty high-end audio brands plus a raft of lesser names (e.g., AGPtEK) and Chinese knock-offs. And have a look at the prices people are paying on eBay for old but still perfectly functional iPods… (e.g., a 3rd generation 8GB iPod Nano (the fat one) in good condition typically fetches $35 to $45) There are times, reasons, and situations when a lot of people prefer not to use their expensive smartphones as MP3 players.

      As for Rockbox, I’m sure the port for the SanDisk Clip (which was fairly new back then) has been stabilized since you last played around with it. I purchased a refurbished 40GB Toshiba Gigabeat around a dozen years ago for a fraction of what a similar iPod Classic would have cost at the time. The native Toshiba firmware sucked but the underlying hardware was excellent… installing Rockbox on the Gigabeat made it a whole different machine which I still use occasionally even today. So while you personally may not find this new release useful, I submit more people will find it useful than you think.

    2. I’m in partial agreement here. Rockbox will still be useful to someone since there’s a vast amount of the world that for instance doesn’t have good 4G LTE coverage… or even clean water. For those of us with good coverage (myself included) a smartphone with unlimited data and a streaming service makes more sense, maybe with some fancy bluetooth active noise cancelling headphones.

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