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iTunes and All the Jazz

There's no way I can cover the iPod without covering music. For more than 30% of all digital music lovers, the iPod is the way we listen. In fact, I'm listening to Robbie Williams through my iPod right now. The reasons we get an iPod often come down to two: superior product features and integration with iTunes. The iTunes software has become the central tool for synchronizing an iPod with a custom music collection.

But what if you don't want to use iTunes—or, shock and horror, you don't run either Windows or Macintosh? What if you're running Linux? Well, a growing number of iTunes look-alike tools are appearing at open source groups. One of the most well-known is myPod, whose aim is to provide a platform-independent application to manage music and synchronize clips and playlists for an iPod.

I haven't made the big leap to Linux, so I spoke to some friends about myPod. The general reactions haven't been very favorable, but this is still an early project and may mature as it becomes more popular.

The massive number of iTunes downloads suggests that it actually works well, and adding new features increases the risk of something breaking. Programmers may think, "If it ain't broke, why fix it?" and decide not to upgrade this popular product. With open source products, however, there are no such worries. If you want to add a tool that synchronizes Calendar and Notes as well as music, you can just go for it. The very existence of myPod demonstrates that you don't need to be tied to the proprietary software from Apple. In my book, this is a good thing.

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