Replacing iTunes on Ubuntu

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Can I run iTunes in Ubuntu (or Linux in general)?
What's the best way to manage my iPod without iTunes?
What's the best way to get music without iTunes Music Store?


A lot of new Ubuntu users have used iTunes in the past and/or have iPods or iPhones. This can be a bit of a challenge in the migration process.

Can I run iTunes in Ubuntu (or Linux in general)?

No, you can't. People will tell you there are weird ways to get iTunes running in Ubuntu, but I've never seen anyone successfully do it or give instructions that someone else could follow to successfully run iTunes in Ubuntu. If you do somehow manage to get some version of iTunes running, it will be buggy and not fully functional. There are two helper programs—Wine and Crossover—that allow you to run some native Windows programs, but even those don't work. If you don't believe me, check out these pages:

Wine application page for iTunes
Crossover Office application page for iTunes

If you must run iTunes, your best bet is a dual boot. This means you have to reboot your computer every time you want to access iTunes and then reboot your computer again if you want to use Ubuntu. Two slightly more convenient variations of this are running virtual Ubuntu inside Windows using Virtualbox (or running virtual Windows inside Ubuntu using Virtualbox) or having two computers and a KVM switch that allows you to quickly switch back and forth between Windows and Ubuntu using the same monitor and keyboard.

All of those are workarounds.

The bottom line is that you cannot run iTunes in Ubuntu. If you want iTunes, you need a virtual Windows environment or an actual Windows environment (or a Mac).

Your best bet is still to find a native Ubuntu alternative.

What's the best way to manage my iPod without iTunes?

There are actually many native Linux programs for managing your iPod. You can see on Wikipedia a comparison (including lists of features) of iPod managers.

AmaroK and Banshee in particular often come highly recommended from Ubuntu Forums members.

Up until recently there was no consistently reliable way to sync the iPhone with Linux. Ubuntu includes something called libimobiledevice, which helps users manager their iPhones and iPod Touches in Ubuntu with only some minor sacrifices in functionality.

What's the best way to get music without iTunes Music Store?

Ubuntu's default music player (alternatively Rhythmbox or Banshee, depending on what release you're using) usually has a built-in music store integrated with its Ubuntu One cloud service.

Here are some more details about alternatives:

  • Jamendo allows artists to publish their music under a free license for non-commercial use (if the artist wants to go commercial later, too, that's okay). So all downloads are completely free in every way (unless you're trying to scam money off the artist). A lot of French music, but also random other stuff. There's good French music, though. I'm kind of a pop music lover myself, so my favorites are Julandrew and Mel's.
  • Magnatune is a non-evil label that sifts through artists to find the best in... mainly trance and electronica (with smatterings of rock and folk). Half of the purchase price for songs goes directly to the artist. You can also listen to full albums (not 30-second clips) online for free.
  • The Amazon MP3 store has quite a wide selection and is your best electronic bet for mainstream popular commercial music.
  • eMusic sells a lot of songs from independent music labels (and even a few mainstream artists). Don't know that the artists get 50% of sales, though.
  • Ubuntu One Music Store is Ubuntu's own store that offers DRM-free MP3s for sale, and it's integrated with Ubuntu's own version of Dropbox online storage called... Ubuntu One, of course.
  • Google recently added a Google Play Music store you can buy and download MP3s from.
  • Uh... buy CDs. There's something nice about having CDs. You have a full backup of all your electronic music. It's higher quality (though I can't tell the difference between CD quality and 128 bitrate for MP3). Go to your local record store... or even shop online.

For more information, including user experiences and recommendations, read these Ubuntu Forums threads:
Best place to download music?
Where do you get your music?
Legal Music Downloads
music download for Linux

Last updated 04/29/12 08:27

If you have suggestions or corrections for these tutorials, please post in this Ubuntu Forums thread or leave a comment on my blog.

I will not give help to people posting in the above places. If you require technical support, start a support thread on the Ubuntu Forums. That is the appropriate place to ask for help.