HOWTO: Access The iTunes Store in GNU/Linux

It has long been a truism that not only will Apple not support GNU/Linux at all, but even if you manage to get iTunes running in WiNE, you won’t be able to access the iTunes store. This is not normally a problem — no-one who has access to decent software would want to run their bloatware anyway, and most other online music stores will sell to anyone. But occasionally iTunes has an exclusive — as it currently does on the new Beach Boys copyright extension releases, which as you can imagine I was rather keen to get hold of.

So I spent a *lot* of time Googling, and discovered that you can, in fact, get to the iTunes store in WiNE, if you use very specific versions of things, and that it’s actually very easy. The following instructions are simplified versions of things I found on forums that have low search rankings. I make no guarantee that these instructions will actually work for you, that any files linked aren’t malware, that your computer won’t explode, or anything else. All I know is that on my own system — a Toshiba Satellite laptop running Debian Wheezy — I managed to get iTunes running well enough to get 82 Beach Boys tracks I can now listen to in the media player of my choice.

To do this, you need to have a specific version of iTunes — 32-bit iTunes 10.1.1 , which can at the time of writing be downloaded from here. Again, I have no guarantee that this file is what it purports to be — all I can say is that it does indeed give access to the iTunes store. Any earlier or later version, and any 64-bit version, will not work, but this file will.

Once you’ve downloaded that file, install Play On Linux, following the instructions here. Once it’s installed, click on Multimedia at the top, and then select iTunes 10, and when it asks for the file point it to the one you just downloaded.

At this point it will install a lot of stuff — specific versions of WiNE and so on that it pulls in with a script and associates with just that file. It’s OK to select the defaults for everything you don’t care about, *EXCEPT*:
When Playonlinux says “Do you want to install iTunes 10 to sync an USB device?”, select No. WiNE can’t handle USB.
When iTunes asks if you want to enable autorun of CDs, say no — some people have reported problems with this.
When iTunes asks if you want to enable automatic updates, say no — updating this version of iTunes will stop it working in GNU/Linux.

Once installation is complete, you will have a working version of iTunes that can access the iTunes store. This will be SLOW — using it as an actual media player would be stupid, as it’s horrible bloatware that is running under emulation — but it will work for buying from the store and downloading, and then you can just shut down iTunes and play the music in a proper media player, so you too will be able to experience the joys of Pom Pom Play Girl (instrumental mix with backing vocals) or In The Parking Lot (a capella).

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8 Responses to HOWTO: Access The iTunes Store in GNU/Linux

  1. Mike Taylor says:

    What is a “Beach Boys copyright extension release”?

    • Last year, they changed the law in the EU regarding copyright in musical recordings, as a result of lobbying by the surviving Beatles, EMI, and Cliff Richard, because Beatles recordings were starting to go out of copyright (Love Me Do and PS I Love You are now out of copyright). The new rules extend copyright in musical recordings from fifty years to seventy, but with a proviso — if the recordings haven’t been released by the end of the fiftieth calendar year, they become public domain; use it or lose it, basically.

      So last year, in the last few weeks of the year, we got a few releases like “the Bob Dylan Copyright Extension Album”, a selection of recordings from 1963 that was only released in a limited vinyl issue of 100 copies, sold IIRC through one record shop in Sweden, just in order to keep the rights on those recordings in case they needed them in the future.

      The Beatles’ Live At The BBC Vol 2 was presumably released last year for the same reasons — as the recordings would go out of copyright otherwise — and the Beatles did a rather shoddy iTunes-only release called “Bootleg Recordings 1963” (which included the same performance of She Loves You twice because no-one actually bothered to listen to it before putting it out), which was only available for a day or two and then pulled (though I’m told they put it back online again later).

      The Beach Boys have been doing these too, but they’ve been doing them properly, getting their archivists Mark Linnett and Alan Boyd to put together good-sounding remastered versions, and putting out proper album cover art and liner notes (though the releases are digital-only). Last year’s one, The Big Beat 1963, was only released in the US, so I had to acquire it through a complicated process, but this year’s two releases — Keep An Eye On Summer and Live In Sacramento — are available in the UK, albeit only through iTunes and for twice as much as the USians are paying…

      • Mike Taylor says:

        Hmm. Seems like a fine example of a flagrantly unjust law — one that you would be fully morally justified in ignoring outright, and just downloading the songs from torrents rather than risking all those malware vectors.

        • I agree. However, I want to pay for the work that Boyd and Linnet (both of whom do fine work) and liner-note writer Craig Slowinski put into it, especially since I vaguely know Boyd and Slowinski online. I don’t feel any obligation to pay for the music, especially since two of the principals are dead, but I do feel an obligation to pay for those people’s work.

          (Plus, it hasn’t shown up on torrent sites yet — I checked. It’s not likely to, either, as the files are watermarked to the purchaser.)

          • Mike Taylor says:

            That makes a certain amount of sense. Though I wonder whether Boyd and Linnet (who I know nothing at all about) feel good about having worked on this exploitative project.

            I wonder how hard de-watermarking would be.

            • I imagine they are just glad to be making the music available to the people who want to hear it at all — Boyd has spent more than a decade trying to organise online releases of the Beach Boys’ archives, and met with resistance all the way.

              I agree that the morality of it is pretty obscene, but the music being available at all (and a lot of this was unbootlegged) is at least a pleasant side-effect, and Boyd, Linnet and the rest have at least made sure that it’s more than just the nasty loophole-exploitation that the other releases are.

              But yes, I felt rather dirty paying for it, and doubly so paying for it through iTunes.

              (Watermark removal is apparently a matter of purchasing multiple copies and diffing them, basically. So not challenging at all, but not worth it for most people.)

  2. Mike Taylor says:

    Also:

    Dear Paul McCartney,

    I love you, and admire your work. You are my favourite of the Beatles, and I sing songs that you wrote all the time in folk clubs (where even people who are normally po-faced trad. folkies can’t help but sing along).

    BUT the purpose of copyright is to incentivise creators to create more works — it’s for the benefit of the population at large. Extending the copyright on works created fifty years ago can’t possibly do this. If anything, it will achieve the opposite, encouraging creators to rest on their laurels. Lawmakers should have rejected your lobbying, but I don’t necessarily expect any better from them. But I do expect better from the man who gave us Yesterday and The Fool on the Hill. It’s not like you need the money.

    It was badly done, Paul. Badly done indeed.

    (Just, you know, in case he happens to read the comments on Science! Justice Leak!.)

  3. Martin Serrano says:

    FYI, you can get older versions of itunes directly from Apple (but not 10.1.1 for some reason), including 32-bit. https://support.apple.com/downloads/32-bit. I will try some others with Wine and post results.

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