Very cool this... If you use Ubuntu, the latest version (10.04 LTS Lucid Lynx), is finally out-of-box compatible with the iPhone OS, meaning no jail-breaking or compiling of anything to connect to your Ubuntu desktop. I'm likely in the minority on our blogs that use PC technology (both at work and play). I have an iPod touch, but I follow and post on just about anything tech-related. This post is for iPhone PC people, interested in the free and easy to use Ubuntu Linux OS. You can run it from a USB stick, and now it's more compatible with your Apple devices.
Technically, it is updated Linux libraries (libimobiledevice, usbmuxd/gtkpod) that make this possible, so it is not just Ubuntu Linux that benefits (Fedora, openSUSE, and Mandriva also should support this). If you have the previous major version of Ubuntu installed (9.10), the updater will alert you that a new version is available. If you don't have the last major release, or have not used Ubuntu at all, you can run it or install in any number of ways (see my blog here, and use the search widget in the right column to find Ubuntu-related posts). Go here to get the down low on using iPhone or iPod touch (or iPad) with Ubuntu.
Ubuntu can be installed as a program inside of Windows (Wubi installer), configured in a dual boot setup with Windows (my fav), all by itself, or run from a live CD (yes it will fit on a CD) or USB stick. I have used it for years in all these configurations, and frankly love it. It includes Office apps, music, pix/video editing and player apps, cool free games, chat, social networking, cloud-based file sharing services, and much more. It really is an amazingly full-featured OS, is free and about as easy as Windows to use (for the most part).
After updating my release to Lynx (which went as smooth as my last upgrade..see this), I was able to connect my iPod touch to my HP netbook, and it was detected and mounted. F-Spot photo editor (photo touch-up app) prompted to open the device and copy my photos. GIMP is also included in Ubuntu, which is about equal with Photoshop in capability. RythmBox (Ubuntu player) offered similarly to open and sync my music. I could browse and play tunes, as well as add new ones to my iPod. No registering with iTunes, or any other rubbish. Ubuntu now has an on-line music store of it's own, which I have not really looked at in great detail yet. I also configured some custom streaming stations through RythmBox to play last.fm streams, which is pretty cool if you have a last.fm account/profile, but it's easy to add one using the account link in the settings.
You can also browse more of the limited filesystem of an un-jailbroken iPhone/iPod from Ubuntu, but if you want root access, you will have to jailbreak (using Cydia), install OpenSSH, and use iFuse in Ubuntu (instructions are at the link above on Apple devices) to mount root. In Win 7, I can browse the picture folders and transfer files there, but that is it.
So, if you are also still a PC like me, and an iPhone user to boot, looking for a faster booting/performing alternative to Windows (though Win 7 is pretty good...see my post here on my latest Windows upgrade), you might want to check out Ubuntu.