Navigate / search

How to transfer music from CD to MP3 on Apple iPod in Ubuntu Linux

When I got the HP Compaq C700 notebook it came with a free Apple iPod. I installed Ubuntu on my Compaq C700 notebook. Since there isn’t any iTunes for Linux, i wanted to know how to be able to rip my audio CD’s, convert them to MP3 files and transfer them to the Apple iPod. When I tried to Google for help, I was able to get bits and pieces of information on how to do it. This weekend, I decided to write a how to about it to provide a step by step procedure on how a Ubuntu user with an iPod can do it.

The default install of the Ubuntu Linux desktop edition comes with a music player called RhythmBox. RhythmBox comes with some cool features besides being able to play a range of music formats like mp3 and ogg. It is also expandable via the installation of available plugins. Some of these features include managing a music library, audio cd ripping and conversion, listening to streaming music stations like and support for portable music players including the Apple iPod.

In this post, I’ll focus on how to rip music from audio CD’s, convert them to MP3 files, transfer them to a local music library and to the Apple iPod using Rhythmbox. To be able to do this, you’ll need to install one more package from the Ubuntu repository. The software package is called ubuntu-restricted-extras.

Before you can install the ubuntu-restricted-extras package you’ll need to configure your ubuntu to get updates from other sources. To set this up, modify your software sources by clicking System | Administration | Software Sources from your Ubuntu desktop panel menu. You’ll see a dialog box with several tabs and the first one is labeled “Ubuntu Software”. On this tab only the checkbox labeled “Canonical-supported Open Source software (main)” is checked. You’ll need to check the other three on the list. Refer to the screen shot below:


After setting this up. click “Close” and your Ubuntu software application list will get updated. When the update is done, you can now do the following command on a termninal box.

$ sudo apt-get install ubuntu-restricted-extras

This will retrieve and install the needed software to be able to rip your music cds and convert them to mp3 files. It’s a 30+ megabyte update so if you have slow internet connection, just have a cup of coffee. Next thing you’ll know is you’d be listening to music from your iPod while sipping your coffee. 🙂

Once that is done. Go startup your Rhythmbox software by clicking on Applications | Sound & Video | Rhythmbox Music Player from the Ubuntu desktop panel menu. You’ll need to change the default CD ripping output from the OGG file format to the MP3 file format. To do this in Rhythmbox, click on the application’s Edit | Preferences menu item. You’ll see a dialog box with several tabs. Click on the “Music” tab. The default “Preferred format” is “CD Quality, Lossy (OGG multimedia)”. Change this to “CD Quality, MP3 (MP3 audio)” and click “Close”. Check out the screen shot below:


Now you’re ready to rip your music CD’s and transfer them to your computer’s Music library as mp3 files. Start converting by inserting an audio CD into your cd drive. Once the audio cd has been mounted, you should see it listed under “Devices” on the left side portion of the window of your Rhythmbox. In the screenshot below, I’ve loaded one of my favorite music CD’s the “Queens Greatest Hits”. Rhythmbox will try to retrieve the titles of the audio tracks for you from the Internet and list them on the screen.


When the CD is selected, click on the “Copy to Library” button on Rhythmbox. Rhythmbox will now start ripping the audio CDs. You can see the status of the transfer on the lower right portion of the screen. Connect your iPod via USB into your Ubuntu computer. Ubuntu should be able to detect and mount it. Once it’s mounted, Rhythmbox will list it under “Devices” on the left side of your screen.

If your CD ripping is already done, transferring your mp3 music files into your iPod is just an easy select, drag and drop operation. From your Music library, select the music files you want to transfer into your iPod. Then just drop the selected files into your mounted Apple iPod.


That’s it. you can now start listening to music from your Apple iPod (Now listening to “Queen Greatest Hits” on the iPod).

Some notes:

  • If you don’t own the audio CDs don’t rip them.
  • If you don’t plan to have copies of the music files on your Ubuntu computer, you can just drag and drop each audio CD to your Apple iPod to maintain a single copy of everything. You can later plug your iPod to your Ubuntu computer to listen to them.
  • Directly dragging and dropping your audio CDs to your iPod will convert them to the MP4 audio format instead of the MP3 format.

Enjoy listening!

Update: A comment below has been made that only the gstreamer0.10-plugins-ugly-multiverse package is necessary to perform the steps above. Pls note that you can do that also. I decided to download the whole ubuntu-restricted-extras package because I also needed the Java runtime on my Ubuntu setup.

Gerry Ilagan

Gerry Ilagan is into mobile apps and WordPress development at @speeqs. He loves to write about electronics, the Internet of Things, mobile phones, and #crazyideas.



you dont really need the whole of ubuntu-restricted-extras, just:


this is a dummy question… but how can you show the cover art inside the side panel of rhythmbox??


If you use Banshee instead of Rhythmbox, you can rip the cds to ogg, and then when you drag them to the iPod, it will automagically convert them into mp3s for the player. Then you can have your cake, and eat it too!


@uchari if you enabled the cover art plugin, it will retrieve and display it on the left side when the album is being played.

Tom Russell

Thank you very much for your article, I have been struggling with this for far too long, and was about to give up and go to Windows .Saved!!!


Hi Tom, You’re welcome.


THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!!! I was googleing for liek 2 hours for this! This is just what i needed!


Has anyone had any luck ripping audio CD’s to MP3 in K3b?

Angel G.

I`ve failed to rip audio w k3b(ubuntu), so I`ll try the tips above. Thanx.


step to step guide is very good !


Thanks for a short and very useful tutorial.

With Ubuntu 10.4 with the above repository enabled Rhythmbox automatically propose a list of gstreamer packages to install to enable MP3 once you start transferring audio tracks.
Just say Yes to install them (in this case it added 3 more in addition to the ugly-multiverse mentioned above):

If your iPod is formated for Mac, you will likely need this:

To disable journaling so that the iPod FS can be written to.
Otherwise the drag and drop into iPod device will do nothing.

Plug-in iPod in a Mac, don’t answer any question that pops-up about syncing the device, etc.
Open a terminal look for the new drive (Query “Terminal”):
$ sudo df -k

/dev/disk1s3 … /Volumes/iPod YourName
Make sure you replace disk1s3 in example by the device name your find on your Mac (select the entry that has “YourName” the one of Your iPod),
$ sudo diskutil disableJournal /dev/disk1s3
$ exit
Then answer the question that popped-up when plugging in the usb iPod earlier with “Cancel” this should unmount the iPod (eject).


I am running PinGuy OS version of Ubuntu that a friend installed for me. When I open RythmBox I am missing “Devices” part of the menu on the left. When I insert an audio cd, nothing happens. I clicked on Search Removable Media and it doesn’t find anything.


Running Rythmbox version 0.13.1


I love you


Thank you. This was very helpful.

Leave a comment


email* (not published)


Blog Library