As far as Apple’s doesn’t support Ubuntu Linux iTunes is compatible only with Mac OS and Windows operating systems. Therefore a lot of Ubuntu newbies have problems with permanent switching as they still require iTunes. In this post I describe all possible approaches and workarounds to run itunes in Ubuntu and also tell how and why to replace itunes with one of native Ubuntu software. So how to run itunes in Ubuntu? There are all known approaches below.
Running itunes in Ubuntu using wine emulator
The first idea that usually comes to one’s mind after quick research of this topic with Google is using wine emulator to run itunes in Ubuntu. Due to number of negative but inevitable factors like frequent upgrades of itunes by Apple, non 100% compatibility of undocumented itunes’ libraries with wine emulator, this approach implies some restrictions on usage of itunes in Ubuntu with wine: for example running itunes in Ubuntu using wine you cannot connect iPod and sync music/photo/podcast library with itunes. At the same time it is still possible to manage your music library and access itunes music store. As for me itunes is not 100% the best application for my music library as far as there are a lot of other brilliant native Ubuntu applications for this purpose, they are listed and described below in this post. Anyways the possibility to use itunes in Ubuntu using wine is still open:
1. Go to Ubuntu menu and select System –> Administration –> Synaptic Package Manager, type ‘wine’ in quick search and select wine package as at the screenshot:
2. Hit Ctrl+I to mark it for installation or set a checkbox left to package name (it will also ask to mark several dependency packages):
3. Press Apply button or hit Ctrl+P and confirm the installation:
4. In a few minutes Ubuntu will download and install wine:
5. After a confirmation message that packages were installed close Synaptic Package Manager. From this point wine is installed on your Ubuntu and you can run various windows applications including itunes.
6. Download the latest version of iTunes from www.apple.com (today it is iTunes 9.2) or download one of previous versions from www.oldapps.com if the latest one poses problems or just refuses to install under wine emulator (this happens so be prepared for this situation).
7. Open folder with downloaded itunes.exe (if you use Firefox as browser it’ll be saved directly to the desktop), select file and enter to file properties (right click –> Properties):
8. Save changes and execute the file by double click. Follow itunes installation steps until it shows that installation is successfully finished.
During my attempts to install iTunes using wine in Ubuntu I’ve tried a lot versions starting from the latest one itunes 9.2 (today is June 2010) and ending with older iTunes downloaded from www.oldapps.com. Any version higher than 7.2 just failed to either install or load so I can confirm that itunes 7.2 is the only version that I was able to install on my Ubuntu Lucid Lynx using wine. Here is the screenshot taken on my Ubuntu Lucid Lynx netbook remix:
9. Once installation is finished you will be able to start itunes by clicking corresponding shortcut on Ubuntu desktop or running the following command in terminal (go to Ubuntu menu and select System –> Accessories –> Terminal):
wine ~/.wine/dosdevices/c\:/Program Files/iTunes/iTunes.exe
Bottom line: This approach is still the most popular and easy at the first glance way to get itunes working in Ubuntu Linux. At the same time it poses serious restrictions of using of itunes under Ubuntu (the major one means it’s impossible to use sync ipod).
iTunes within a virtual machine running on Ubuntu
There are a lot of virtualization solutions available for Ubuntu Linux. Sun’s Oracle’s Virtualbox is the most popular and easiest virtualization software that is available for Ubuntu. It can be installed by a few clicks and can run one or more virtual machines with networking and full usb support. This implies user can do the same with itunes under Ubuntu as she/he did in Windows or Mac OS.
The main idea of this approach to run itunes in Ubuntu is to have it installed inside Windows virtual machine hosted by Virtualbox Ubuntu application.
2. Open downloaded package with GDebi Package Installer — it comes with Ubuntu by default and is associated with .deb files from the beginning so just double click Virtualbox deb package:
3. Press ‘Install Package’ button and follow easy instructions to get Virtualbox package installed. Once finished you will get ‘Oracle VM Virtualbox’ item in Applications –> System Tools menu.
4. Open Applications –> System Tools –> Oracle VM Virtualbox and press button ‘New’ to create virtual machine, follow below screenshots to prepare virtual machine for Windows XP (you can also use other versions of Windows) operating system that will be used to run iTunes:
5. Insert Microsoft Windows XP disc and press ‘Start’ button to boot virtual machine. Install [licensed] copy of Windows XP to virtual machine and logon to Windows XP desktop.
6. In Windows XP inside virtual machine go to apple.com, download and install the latest version of iTunes. Once finished you will get workable itunes with all those terrific features it supports. The main idea means you don’t need to have real Windows PC/laptop.
Bottom line: this approach may take much more time than previous one (itunes + wine + Ubuntu) but makes it possible to have full featured itunes in Ubuntu. It implies you don’t need to reboot into Windows or use another PC/laptop with Windows or Mac OS X just to run iTunes.
iTunes and Ubuntu + Windows dualboot
This is actually a workaround on how to use itunes on PC or laptop that runs Ubuntu. To achieve this you can install Windows as second operating system (inline with primary Ubuntu of course) and reboot into it when it’s necessary to run iTunes or any other Microsoft software. This is far out of scope of this topic so you are welcome to search Google for “ubuntu windows dualboot” or read the article presented by Ubuntu developers: https://help.ubuntu.com/community/WindowsDualBoot
Bottom line: this is workaround but still is rather useful approach not to say good bye to itunes.
As far as I know these above approaches are the only ways to get iTunes installed in Ubuntu. Now let’s see what native Ubuntu applications can replace iTunes and do the same job as Apple’s software of even more.
There a lot of brilliant Ubuntu Linux software for managing music library on a PC. Here are the most popular and powerful ones:
1. Rhythmbox — this one comes with Ubuntu by default so it’s even not necessary to install it, just go to Applications –> Sound and Video –> Rhythmbox Music Player.
It provides powerful and easy music browser, can sort/search music of almost all known formats including streaming audio, can play and rip CDs and DVDs. One of the most important features of Rhythmbox is iPod support meaning e.g. I can connect my favourite ipod classic 160GB and transfer music to it without itunes at all. Developers say that Rhythmbox was inspired by Apple’s itunes. I believe them.
2. Amarok — music player and manager with impressive list of features.
Currently this is the most powerful music engine available for Ubuntu and Linux on the whole. Amarok makes it possible to transfer files to iPod and other mp3 players, to buy legal music from Magnatune (www.Magnatune.com) store, to create dynamic playlists, to import itunes music database and much-much more. Amarok was designed for KDE (while Ubuntu runs Gnome) desktop manager so it requires a lot of dependencies when you install it — be prepared to download 200 MB of staff to get Amarok installed.
3. Banshee — is open source media player supported by Novel. It brings a lot of useful features to user starting from ability to manage music library and media art and ending with full support of video and podcasts. Banshee is one of the most pretty-looking application of this list, it took a lot of features from itunes and can also sync ipod and other media devices with your music and video library. I’m using Banshee for several years and still believe this is the best itunes-like music player for Ubuntu.
4. Exaile — is very fast and easy-to-use music player for Gnome window manager. Currently it is on its early stage of development and didn’t reach 1.0 version but brings very powerful list of features like album art management, lyrics fetching or ipod device support. Exaile was designed as an alternative to Amarok and iTunes so you will find many features from them.
Bottom line: if the only reason why you need itunes in Ubuntu is to sync music with your ipod, this is time to check mentioned music managers Rhythmbox, Amarok, Exaile and forget about itunes. Or use other Ubuntu ipod managers like gtkpod for example.
Buy legal music in Ubuntu without itunes
There are two major alternatives to iTunes Music Store in Ubuntu which can be used in the same way — Jamendo, Magnatune. Ubuntu applications Rhythmbox, Banshee, Amarok and Exaile supports mentioned music stores and make it possible to navigate the music store and buy the music as easily as in itunes music store. Also there are a lot of music stores like Amazon which makes it possible to preview and buy music using any browser like Firefox, Opera or Chromimum which are supported by Ubuntu.