There are a couple of alternative firmware mods you can try out, the big players being iPodLinux and Rockbox. The latter is incredibly easy to install so it’s the one we’ll be using. It supports more than 20 audio and video formats and has lots of different themes. It also comes with more than 30 standard games and can even handle that classic Doom and all the old Game Boy games.
You can get Rockbox at www.rockbox.org/ download, and works with the iPod 1g through 5.5g, iPod Mini and iPod Nano 1g. The installer is about 3 MB but you’ll need to be online to finish the installation. Plug in your iPod and restart it by holding down the Menu and Select buttons until it reboots, then hold down Play and Select to enter disk mode, this effectively makes it a portable hard drive. Run the config utility and select “Change”, choose “Autodetect” in the pop up and select “Ok”. You can now select “Complete Installation” and Rockbox will take care of the rest, the final step is to choose additional themes so look them through and pick the ones you like. Please note that obviously your iPod’s warranty just flew out the window. For further info and FAQ visit http://tinyurl.com/ipodrockbox.
To boot the new firmware simply restart the device. The interface is a lot different than the old one so feel free to play around with it a bit. A worthy mention is the additional power settings available – with a good battery and the optimisation of the settings you'll be able to get more than 20 hours of play time, more than double that of the old firmware. To be able to use the music on your device you need to import the old database, select the “Database” menu and when prompted to import press Select, the process takes a minute or two. When done restart the device to finalise the setup procedure.
Doom and Game Boy games
The version of Doom installed is a free port, if you prefer playing the one you had as a kid copy over the .wad files from the original to the doom sub folder on your iPod, you can now select the version you prefer. To be able to play old Game Boy games create a new folder and populate it with a couple of roms, a quick Google search for “Game Boy roms” returns hundreds of games to try out. You can launch the games under the “Files” menu.
If at any time you wish to revert to the original firmware you can remove Rockbox using the setup utility, remove both Rockbox and the bootloader and restart the device. Alternatively, hold the Menu button while booting and it’ll load the original firmware without having to remove Rockbox first. [MS]