While pundits ponder whether Apple's market-leading iPod music player faces imminent doom, tech-savvy Linux users are hacking colour-screened versions of the device to explore another kind of Doom - this time from ID Software.
Hard-working iPod Linux developer 'Kyle' has reworked Doom so that it will play on the device, albeit at an excruciatingly slow 3-4fps frame rate. There’s information about the port on the iPod Linux website.
The software also requires software to run Linux on the Apple product called Podzilla be installed, and uses the player's scroll wheel to control the action.
It's a complex task to load Doom onto an iPod, requiring that users install both Podzilla and that they are confident enough to compile the software on the music player. If that’s you, there’s some help available on the project’s forums.
Though he wasn't the first developer to attempt the port, Kyle explained: "I chose to work on Doom because it is still one of my favourite ID Software games."
Kyle confirmed he is working with "a couple of other" secretive developers on a slew of bug fixes for the release, including: "Scaling the video output to fit the iPod's screen and getting sound working".
He's been working on a build of the software that's been compiled to run on an iPaq.
Kyle decided to get into the project because he owns an iPod photo which he sees as a "fairly nice piece of hardware that runs Linux".
To the developer, making Linux work on an iPod is more than a clever hack or a technical challenge. "It's for freedom", he said.
"Apple won't release (iPod) developer kits to the community," he said.
As far as Kyle is concerned, this means Apple has limited consumers’ freedom to, "use the iPod to play various audio types (aside from those currently supported) and to add additional games."
Admittedly, the technical hurdles to accomplishing the feat also place such projects beyond the reach of many iPod owners.
But for those who can, the technological freedom fighter observed that software guerrillas like himself are ahead of the curve when it comes to introducing features and extending the technological envelope.
As analysts and journalists get down and dirty to consider how likely Apple is to release a video iPod, Kyle added:
"There's a lot of begging for things like video support, games, and support for more audio types on iPods", he added. "Linux brings these features to the iPod and the community."
Apple has so far declined to comment on the story. ®