Banshee developer Aaron Bockover announced the PodSleuth project earlier this week, which is designed to expose iPod metadata through the Linux Hardware Abstraction Layer (HAL). PodSleuth replaces the old libipoddevice and is designed to be more adaptable and future-proof.
PodSleuth metadata will be merged into the iPod’s HAL device representation as properties so that the information can easily be accessed by any application that can interact with HAL. PodSleuth uses information extracted directly from plists on the devices and only relies on the model table to ascertain “cosmetic” distinctions, so devices that aren’t registered in the model table will still be supported. PodSleuth will provide an icon metatadata property through HAL for devices that are listed in the model table, enabling the proper icon for known iPod devices to be displayed in Banshee and Nautilus.
PodSleuth is currently available from the GNOME version control system, but is still under heavy development. An initial release is expected to take place next week along with a new version of ipod-sharp and Banshee 0.13.2. These releases will bring support for the new iPods to Banshee.
In a blog entry, Bockover also addresses criticisms of his choice to use C# as the programming language for PodSleuth. He points out that PodSleuth is a HAL service and not a library, which means that other programs don’t have to be written in C# to use the functionality. PodSleuth also only uses the ECMA approved portions of Mono, which means that it doesn’t rely on any patent-encumbered code.
Apple’s attempts to lock iPod users into iTunes have been unsuccessful and impressive open source software solutions continue to provide strong alternative music management options for current iPod owners. Despite the availability of iPod support on Linux, the need to constantly reverse engineer and hack around Apple’s lock-in mechanisms makes the iPod a poor choice for Linux users. There is no guarantee that Apple’s antihacker efforts will be so easily overcome in future firmware revisions. Linux users should still consider buying alternate products that support open standards.