Accessing an iPads file system from Linux

Despite using Linux on pretty much every computer I’ve owned for the last 20 years I’ve made an exception when it comes to tablet devices and adopted an iPad into my life as commute friendly “source of all books.” Overtime it’s been occasionally pressed into service as a camera and I recently realised I’ve never backed any of those photos up. “That’s something easy to remedy” I naively thought as I plugged my iPad into a laptop and watched as it didn’t appear as a block device.

While there are many pages on the internet that explain parts of the process of accessing your iPad file system from Linux it was awkward enough to piece together that I decided to summarise my own commands in this post for future me. I used the following commands on a Fedora 28 install to access an iPad Air 2.

First add the software needed to make the connection work:

    # install the required packages (on fedora)
    sudo dnf install ifuse libimobiledevice-utils

Once this is installed unlock the iPad and run idevicepair pair to pair the iPad with your Linux host. You should see a message saying that pairing was successful. Now we have access to the device let’s access its file system. Create the mount point and make the current user the owner:

    sudo install -d /mnt/ipad -o $USER

Finally, mount the iPad so we can access its file system:

    ifuse /mnt/ipad

    ls -alh /mnt/ipad/

If this fails ensure the ifuse module is loaded by running lsmod, and run modprobe ifuse if it isn’t. Once you’ve finished exploring don’t forget to umount /mnt/ipad to release the iPad.