Using My Creative Zen With Ubuntu 9.04

I've been using an 8 GB Creative Zen player now for about a year, and in general, I'm very happy. It was about 25% cheaper than a comparable iPod, it can do more stuff, and it has ended up being very durable and easy-to-use.

Another thing that I initially liked about the Zen was how well it worked with Ubuntu Linux 8.04. From Amarok, I could add and manage files as easily as I could with my old iPod. Then I updated my OS to use Ubuntu 9.04. The Zen would mount automatically when you plugged it in, but I couldn't access it using any music player such as Amarok, RhythmBox, or Banshee. And if I could access the player using one of those apps, the connection was always very flaky. I might be able to move one or two songs, but eventually, something would crash and I would have to start over again. This thread on the Ubuntu forums shows that many other Zen users were having the same problem:

The basic advice was to unmount the Zen after it was automatically mounted, and then access it using your favorite music player. This only worked for me sporadically at first. And if that wasn't weird enough, the Amarok maintainers decided to do the following:

I figured almost everything out eventually, so I thought I would share it here.

  1. First, plug your Zen into your computer. You should now see a Zen icon on your desktop.
    • |filename|images/zen-icon.jpeg
  2. Next, right-click on that icon and choose the Unmount Volume option. This may seem counter-intuitive, but it's what you need to do.
  3. Next, open Amarok. If you don't see the Amarok window after a minute, then look for the howling wolf icon in your task tray. You will need to right-click on it and choose Restore.
    • Note: This process may work with other music players, but I haven't tested it.
  4. After Amarok opens, you should see the following items in Amarok:
    1. An MP3 player icon with a red X and green + next to it.
      • |filename|images/zen-plus.jpg
    2. Your Zen listed on the left-hand side of the screen.
      • |filename|images/zen-list1.jpg
    3. If you don't see it at first, then make sure that you have clicked on the Collection button on the left-hand side of the screen.
    4. Also, If you see the MP3 player icon but your player isn't listed on the left-hand side of the screen, then click on the green + button.

Now you can copy individual songs from your Local Collection by right-clicking on a song or album and choosing Copy To Collection -> Creative Zen. That should do it. I've had pretty good luck with this system as long as I didn't try to move over 6 albums' worth of MP3's at once. And here are some of the differences that you need to get used to when using the 2.x version of Amarok:

In the end, I'm very appreciative that Canonical, the Gnome group, and the Amarok maintainers provide such excellent software that makes my life so much more enjoyable. And I'm glad that I finally figured out a somewhat-reliable process for copying MP3's from my hard drive to my Zen.