Thursday, August 05, 2010

Rockbox: a great new operating system for your Sansa Fuze

Rockbox is a Linux-based operating system (I think it's technically "firmware") for portable music players like the Sansa Fuze and iPOD.  It's easy to navigate, has lots of skins and lets you fine tune your music playback with the kind of options you usually find on sophisticated stereo systems.

I have a 4 GB Sansa Fuze V01 and Rockbox works great on it.   Things can go wrong, though, and installing Rockbox could possibly brick your player.  Bricking means it will no longer work, giving it the  functionality of a brick, but without the weight and structural strength.

Installing Rockbox on the Fuze
The type and version of player you have matters, so you have to make sure your specific player is supported by the current version of Rockbox.

Using the original Sansa Fuze firmware, you can get this information by going to:
Settings > System Settings > Info
Version is the first line. Mine looks like: V01.02.31P

You can check here to see if Rockbox supports your version.

I used the automatic installer, which you can download from here. It was easy to follow through the installation screens.

Once you have Rockbox installed, all you have to do is turn on the Fuze and it will boot up to Rockbox. If you want to use the original Sansa Fuze firmware, just do this:
  • Turn off the Fuze
  • Hold down the rewind button (|<< on the control wheel)
  • Turn on the Fuze
It will boot up the original firmware.  You can only load music through the original firmware.

If you want to charge the player while running Rockbox, hold the center button (Rockbox calls it the "Select" button) down while plugging the cable into the Fuze.

The origonal firmware will also automatically boot anytime your Fuze is connected to the USB cable, whether you're using it to transfer music or charge the battery.

When you're using Rockbox, his is how the controls work:

That diagram is from the Rockbox manual for the Fuze.

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