The iPod is designed to communicate with a Mac or a PC, which serves as the loading dock for tunes. Fortunately, it doesn’t have especially demanding system requirements. Here’s what your computer must have:
A decent amount of horsepower. For the Macintosh, Apple recommends 256 megabytes of RAM and at least a 400-megahertz G3 processor. For the PC, you need at least a 330-megahertz Pentium-level processor and at least 96 MB of RAM, or 256 MB if you have Windows XP. More memory, of course, is always better.
A recent operating system. For the Mac, you need Mac OS 9.2.2 (to use iTunes 2) or Mac OS X 10.1.5 or later (to use iTunes 4). Of course, if you go all the way to Mac OS X 10.2 or later, you get to use a lot of extra goodies in concert with your iPod, like iCal, iSync, and the Mac OS X Address Book.
To use Apple’s iTunes for Windows software, you need either Windows 2000 or XP. For PCs using the MusicMatch Jukebox software, Windows Me, 2000, or XP will do.
A FireWire or USB 2.0 connector. FireWire, also known as IEEE 1394, is a fast cable connection for transferring data. Most Macs made after 1998 come with built-in FireWire, but FireWire jacks are only now becoming standard connectors on Windows PCs.
If your PC doesn’t have a FireWire connector, you can add a FireWire card to it (Chapter 2)—or use USB 2.0, which is even faster that the original FireWire connection. USB 2.0 is becoming a standard feature on new Macs and PCs, and you can install it into older machines via USB 2.0 expansion cards.