Sync Apple Devices To Your Linux System

Melanie Gross
Jun 8, 2011
Updated • Dec 1, 2012

Experienced users of handheld products know that in order to protect your data and applications it is important to sync apps frequently with a primary machine. Unfortunately, this is often easier said than done for Linux users. While many devices are able to sync without much manipulation on your part, Apple products tend to cause more headaches.

There are various workarounds for this problem, but most are hit and miss. There is no one size fits all solution to this problem, but there is one series of changes that works for many Linux users. It builds up to the installation of a program called “ideviceinstaller,” and it works for about 90% of users. If you are frustrated with your iPod/iPad/iPhone and really just want to back things up, it's probably worth a try.

First, download all the little helpers that you might need along the way. Open up a terminal window and type in the following list:

sudo apt-get install libtool automake autoconf libplist-dev libplist++-dev libplist++1 libzip-dev libclutter-1.0-dev libclutter-gtk-0.10-dev libusbmuxd-dev libglib2.0-dev libgnutls-dev git-core swig intltool build-essential python-dev

That should update your system with almost everything you might need to start installing the programs necessary to get your devices identifying and syncing up with your computer. Next you need to download and install the latest version of a program called “libimobiledevice” which will enable ideviceinstaller to work properly when you install it later. Unlike the last piece of text you inserted into the terminal, take these one line at a time, and make sure your system has finished the process before stepping forward to the next. Again in the terminal:

cd ~/Downloads
tar xvjf libimobiledevice-1.0.1.tar.bz2
cd ~/Downloads/libimobiledevice-1.0.1
sudo make install

You now have almost everything that you need to get ideviceinstaller working properly. But before we install the final auxiliary program, install ideviceinstaller onto your system. To do so, type the following into your terminal:

git clone git://
cd ideviceinstaller/
sudo make install

Now it's time for one last installation. The program “sbmanager” is the final component necessary for everything to run smoothly. In the terminal, type:

git clone git://
cd sbmanager
sudo make install

With any luck, your system should now be ready to take whatever your Apple hand helds can throw at it. Close out of your terminal, plug in your devices, and see if it works.

Here are a few of the most important tasks you can do with the program. To run any of them, simply open your terminal window while your devices are plugged it.

idevicebackup backup ~/backup Creates a backup file of your device
idevicebackup restore ~/backup Restores your device to its previous backup state
ideviceinstaller -a [name of application, without brackets]
Creates an archival copy of an app
ideviceinstaller -r [name of application, without brackets]
Restores an app to its previous archived state
ideviceinstaller -l Displays a list of all apps on your Apple device

While most users will be set to go after following these steps, be prepared to spend some time fixing any errors along the way. The most common is that does not exist. To fix this, type the following in your terminal:

sudo ln -s /usr/local/lib/ /usr/lib/

That should fix 90% of the problems you may encounter in running this how-to. Have fun and good luck!


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  1. Anonymous said on January 19, 2013 at 3:58 am

    Hi, I just spent a bunch of time running through these instructions but I ran into an error I could not get around. Until I simply typed ‘sudo apt-get install ideviceinstaller’ into a command line. Then all is golden. Perhaps this will help the next person who tries to install this.

  2. Ramesh Karthik said on June 12, 2011 at 6:17 pm

    Will this help me to read audio files in my iTouch and add music to iTouch via banshee?

  3. Argoson said on June 8, 2011 at 7:37 pm

    It can only work for Debian/Ubuntu based linux systems.
    If anybody using openSuse need a working solution, check out this link:

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