A way to connect an iPod Touch to a MIPSnetbook
A couple years ago, I had a chance to work with industrial MIPS-based VME boards. It was so unusual to see that the modern failure-proof world actually extends beyond x86-architecture. Those VME boards had a Linux distrubution running, so no special knowledge was required to log in, and perform a task. Being designed for industrial purposes, it would be irrational to buy it for home use - so when I heard about a Chinese hardware company named Lemote , which has MIPS-based products in its portfolio, my first thought was - "Those guys have what I need - MIPS netbooks. I want it here, by my side". That's how the story began.
If you're a reasonably literate user of GNU/Linux system, then your experience with any netbook should be quite smooth - just as it was for me. As a matter of fact, the Yeeloong netbook has Debian preinstalled, with repositories tuned to update the "lenny" release. My first step was to upgrade Debian to the latest packages available. It's generally nice to have the most recent applications, the important ones in my case being gcc and building tools.
Connecting to iPod via iTunnel transport
Apple fans should know that to synchronize/copy files to an iPod or iPhone, an average user needs to have iTunes installed on a PC. It's ludicrous, but iTunes is only available for Mac OS/X and Windows - and the most ludicrous thing about iTunes is that it's compiled for x86 architecture only. No more PowerPC, only x86/x86_64. Should I even bother mentioning Linux and MIPS here?
I have an iPod Touch, second generation. A very handy device, with multi-touch and mobile Safari to surf the net via Wi-Fi. However, I faced a tough problem - how do I copy audio and video files onto it without Microsoft Windows and iTunes, i.e., directly from Linux? There is a solution, actually - you might be interested in doing a jail-break for your iPod, in order to install an SSH server and make a direct connection by means of SSHFS
While writing about performing a jail-break is beyond the scope of this article, I can gladly tell you - it was scary, but at the end, I had a wonderful feeling - it works! And to cheer you up even more, there is no chance of turning your iPod into a brick. It's an absolutely amazing device in terms of recovery and hardware design.
Okay, back to basics. I managed to flash an updated, i.e. 'JB' firmware with an activated SSH server. Now, it was time to log into iPod's operating system. You can do it via Wi-Fi network, or alternatively, via USB-cable by means of the iTunnel  package. Let's see how it works in practice.
I grabbed the source code, and did a compilation. No external dependencies or additional libraries were required. Kudos to iTunnel and libiphone authors!
loongson@debian:~$ cd src/itunnel-0.0.9/ loongson@debian:~/src/itunnel-0.0.9$ make clean && make
I'm an unprivileged user at Yeeloong netbook, so I decided to use port 12022.
loongson@debian:~/src/itunnel-0.0.9$ ./itunnel 12022 get_iPhone() success - successfully got device server waiting for ssh connection on port 12022 server accepted connection, clientfd:5 client thread fd(5) running, server port 12022 , peer port 45964 tunnel now running. SSH to localhost port 12022 to get to iPhone. (use ssh -D to create SOCKS tunnel.) do Ctrl+C to quit the server (can take a few seconds).
Well, everything's ready to login to iPhoneOS. Let's get to it. Don't forget about default password though: every Apple device seems to have a built-in 'mobile' user with password set to 'alpine'.
loongson@debian:~/src/itunnel-0.0.9$ ssh -l mobile -p 12022 localhost mobile@localhost's password: localhost:~ mobile$ uname -a Darwin localhost 9.4.1 Darwin Kernel Version 9.4.1: Mon Dec 8 21:02:57 PST 2008; root:xnu-1228.7.37~4/RELEASE_ARM_S5L8720X iPod2,1 arm N72AP Darwin
Quite the usual Linux environment, almost all user-space utilities have been ported from the bigger PCs:
localhost:~ mobile$ uptime 23:14pm up 17 days 22:28, 1 user, load average: 0.10, 0.11, 0.08
localhost:~ mobile$ df -h Filesystem Size Used Avail Use% Mounted on /dev/disk0s1 750M 475M 268M 64% / devfs 17K 17K 0 100% /dev /dev/disk0s2 15G 15G 250M 99% /private/var
top, and many others...
Processes: 23 total, 1 running, 22 sleeping... 81 threads Load Avg: 0.05, 0.09, 0.08 CPU usage: 3.70% user, 5.56% sys, 90.74% idle SharedLibs: num = 0, resident = 0 code, 0 data, 0 linkedit. MemRegions: num = 3000, resident = 40M + 0 private, 32M shared. PhysMem: 26M wired, 16M active, 8448K inactive, 114M used, 1704K free. VM: 583M + 0 251397(0) pageins, 2080(0) pageouts PID COMMAND %CPU TIME #TH #PRTS #MREGS RPRVT RSHRD RSIZE VSIZE 1599 top 7.4% 0:00.62 1 17 50 580K 848K 1348K 12M 1592 bash 0.0% 0:00.12 1 13 42 340K 480K 1120K 13M 1591 sshd 0.0% 0:00.50 1 14 37 368K 260K 1324K 13M 1583 ptpd 0.0% 0:00.30 2 48 75 544K 1472K 1372K 14M 1540 MobileSafa 0.0% 1:31.78 5 170 428 15832K 17M 37M 97M 43 locationd 0.0% 0:56.46 9 100 141 1272K 1908K 1908K 29M 32 fairplayd 0.0% 0:00.28 1 31 64 512K 1372K 512K 15M 31 iapd 0.0% 0:40.24 9 116 156 1248K 2760K 1568K 30M 30 mediaserve 0.0% 31:38.90 9 153 245 1820K 1944K 2292K 39M 29 lockdownd 0.0% 0:03.25 3 62 99 876K 1792K 960K 26M 28 update 0.0% 0:15.56 1 13 41 216K 624K 228K 11M 26 sbsettings 0.0% 0:00.19 1 27 107 868K 2592K 856K 25M 25 Navizon 0.0% 0:11.34 1 38 162 1280K 2924K 1396K 26M 24 msd 0.0% 0:38.88 1 32 95 1192K 1656K 1240K 15M 23 mslocd 0.0% 0:26.59 1 32 97 632K 1880K 788K 23M 19 CommCenter 0.0% 0:04.97 4 83 90 848K 1764K 940K 25M 17 BTServer 0.0% 0:01.18 2 66 93 636K 1556K 668K 17M 16 SpringBoar 1.8% 59:16.65 13 325 689 9060K 17M 20M 86M 15 configd 0.0% 6:28.52 5 160 127 1020K 1580K 1488K 16M 14 syslogd 0.0% 1:17.33 4 37 35 320K 248K 444K 13M 13 notifyd 0.0% 0:35.43 2 247 27 232K 248K 260K 12M 12 mDNSRespon 0.0% 2:00.59 2 46 65 616K 1360K 912K 14M 1 launchd 0.0% 0:40.65 3 78 35 284K 248K 396K 12M
Of course, switching to a higher level via the 'su' command allows you to see even more information. For instance, all the logging information about the Wi-Fi network iPod has managed to connect to is available through 'dmesg' output:
AppleBCM4325::setASSOCIATE() [configd]: lowerAuth = AUTHTYPE_OPEN, upperAuth = AUTHTYPE_NONE, key = CIPHER_NONE, flags = 0x2 AppleBCM4325 Joined BSS: BSSID = 00:14:d1:4b:e6:f7, adjRssi = 44, rssi = -46, rate = 54 (100%), channel = 1, encryption = 0x1, ap = 1, hidden = 0, directed = 0, failures = 0, age = 1, ssid = "my_net" AirPort: Link Up on en0
Having SSH server up and running on the iPod Touch gives us the ability to connect to it via SSHFS-connection. Let's mount iPod' storage now!
loongson@debian:~$ sudo sshfs -p 12022 -o allow_other mobile@localhost:/private/var /media/usb mobile@localhost's password: loongson@debian:~$ df Filesystem 1K-blocks Used Available Use% Mounted on /dev/hda1 57685532 46146588 8608692 85% / tmpfs 514464 0 514464 0% /lib/init/rw udev 10240 3552 6688 35% /dev tmpfs 514464 0 514464 0% /dev/shm mobile@localhost:/private/var 15324954624 15062839296 262115328 99% /media/usb
Now, let's do some simple benchmarking - copy a single file from iPod Touch to a netbook's local filesystem:
loongson@debian:~$ rsync -v /media/usb/mobile/Media/mp3/Madonna/greatest_hits/106\ Crazy\ For\ You.mp3 . 106 Crazy For You.mp3 sent 5859015 bytes received 31 bytes 1065281.09 bytes/sec total size is 5858218 speedup is 1.00
About 1MiB/s - that's pretty fast.
And let's perform the backward operation, i.e. copy a single file from netbook to iPod:
loongson@debian:~$ rsync -v --progress ./wine-1.1.23.tar.bz2 /media/usb/mobile/Media/ wine-1.1.23.tar.bz2 11075584 71% 140.08kB/s 0:00:30
Frustrating, isn't it? What reasonable explanation could there be? Well, I guess the bottleneck is that the performance of iPod's CPU - ARM processor clocked at 533 MHz could be too slow to handle encrypted SSH packets. What should I do? Simply login to iPod, and secure copy a necessary file from a host (i.e., Yeeloong) machine. Like this:
localhost:~ mobile$ scp firstname.lastname@example.org:/home/loongson/Kylie* . email@example.com's password: Kylie Minogue - Je Ne Sais Pas Pourquoi.mp3 100% 5655KB 1.1MB/s 00:05
Voila - it works! The same bandwidth in both directions!
The approach of performing a jail-break first, and then attaching iPod's storage to PC via SSHFS is a long way to go for something so simple. But - and this is essential - Linux users have no other means of transferring files to the iPod, due to a) iTunes being available for Mac- and Windows-platforms only; b) iTunes being compiled against x86 CPU only (PowerPC/SPARC/MIPS/ARM Linux users should wave "bye-bye"!), and c) there being no means to log onto an iPod without the SSH server being pre-installed. On the other hand, once you have done so, you have a full control over your lovely iPod Touch.
Anton jumped into Linux world in 1997, when he first tried a tiny muLinux distribution, being run from a single floppy. Later on, Red Hat and Slackware became his favorite choice. Nowdays, Anton designs Linux-oriented applications and middleware, and prefers to work with hardware labeled as "Powered by Linux".