Using A Sandisk MP3 Player On A Linux Desktop 

This article shows how to use a Sandisk MP3 player (Sansa E250) on a Linux desktop. Now I can have all the tunes I want without dropping into Windows to manipulate them.

Why the Sansa?

For a long time I resisted buying a standard mp3 player because of compatibility concerns.  On the advice of an openSUSE forum member, I picked up a Sansa E250 2gb player.  This unit is very small, stylishly black, and will work seamlessly with any Linux distribution that recognizes USB block devices, like flash drives, CD players, etc. Sansa makes several units with this basic design, from 512 mb all the way up to 8gb.  All will use this procedure.

Beware of some of the other players.  Most of them require the use of a supplied utility to load content.  Many require, for example, Windows XP SP1.  Not good if you're a Linux user.

I am limiting my HOWTO to simply getting playable songs on the player.  I am assuming one has successfully ripped CDs or otherwise loaded .mp3 directories onto his or her hard drive using, for example, GRIP.  I will also explain how to reset the player if, as happened to me, deleting my current crop of tunes left me with undeletable garbage directories.

As it turns out, getting all your tunes onto the player is easy and fast. 

Setting up the Sansa E2*0 Player

Here is how to set up your Sansa player for use with Linux, requiring only one step.  On the Sansa main menu, with the player disconnected, push the menu button repeatedly past Music, Video, Voice, to "Settings."  This is where you'll start.  Push the center button, then the top button, "USB Mode."  From there scroll to "MSC" and press the center button again.  That's it.  The player will, when connected, appear as a standard flash drive. 

 Now, connect one end of the supplied cable into one of your USB slots and the other into the player.  If it was running from the step above it will reboot.  If it was off, it will power on.  Note that the player only charges its battery when it is connected like this.

Once booted, a screen appears that gives connection status.  It will show "Disconnected" a minute or two while a handshake takes place, then show "Connected."  Once connected, the player is ready to be loaded.

Loading the songs

Your computer program will organize songs by album in subdirectories.  You may have moved directories full of songs around to further organize by artist, etc.  Go ahead and load the directories full of songs to the player.  The Sansa will drill through all the directories to organize itself by the ID3 tag embedded in each mp3 file.  Use a tag editor like, for example, Easy Tag, included in most distributions, to edit the mp3 files so that they will appear as you want them on the player.  Do not load playlists.  These are generally specific to the computer you are using, not the Sansa.  What I do is copy the directories full of mp3 files to a temporary directory on my desktop, watching directory usage until I have accumulated roughly 1.8gb.

Find the Sansa directory on your computer.  On mine, the HAL daemon creates one called /media/Sansa_E250.  Find the ./MUSIC directory from there and copy all 1.8gb to it.  That's it.  You're done.

If the battery on the Sansa is fully charged, disconnect the Sansa from its cable.  It will reboot.  Scroll the menu button at the bottom until "Music" appears.  Scroll down to, for example, "Albums" and Voila!  All the songs appear, ready for listening.  Nothing to it.

One little problem, and a solution 

I discovered all these things shortly after buying my Sansa a couple of months ago. I would load up the player, shuffle play the songs until I got tired of them, then delete them all and load it up again with something else.  Eventually directories got mangled.  I couldn't delete some of them, and when I tried to examine, I saw garbage characters.  Not good.

One of the technical support people at Sansa gave me the solution.  With the player connected to your computer, just

mkdosfs -F 32 [directory]

Then reboot the player.  It will reconstitute itself as needed, and you will have a fresh start.

Pretty slick.  Now I can have all the tunes I want without dropping into Windows to manipulate them.

Share this page:

Suggested articles

18 Comment(s)

Add comment



> Use a tag editor like, for example, Easy Tag, included in most distributions, to edit the mp3 files

> so that they will appear as you want them on the player. 

I have just bought a E280 and found that unless I use Id3v2 tags they are not recognised and all my tracks are dumped in unknown. I have not found easytag useful for this. What I have been doing is checking that I at least have artist, album and name set in amarok then from the command line navigating to the directory and id3tag -2 *.mp3

By: Anonymous

So I've just got my Sansa e260 on and I want to download my music. Since I have linux, I believe it will work

By: Mr.Grumpy

I am using a Sansa m240. Since I upgraded to SuSE 10.3 the player is recognized as a USB drive.  Loading and removing content are straightforward.  One caution: before disconnecting, I always use the 'safe disconnect' feature.  It seems to have protected my Sansa from getting confused.  The 'safe disconnect' is located on the drive interface. It can be accessed by right clicking on the drive listing.

Having lots of fun.

Mr. Grumpy

By: Reindeer

Thank you tjhanson  for posting this article!

My wife and I want an MP3/4 player, but didn't want to have to use Windows or Mac, since I run Fedora Core linux.  Linux has the ability to mount almost any file system, and I can fix any problem that I encounter.  We don't want some proprietary interface preventing us from enjoying our music on the road.  We have a large library of music and don't want the added hassle of using another OS just to use a music player, or juggling machines using a KDB.

I called the Sandisk/Sansa folks at 866-744-1444 and they recommended the purchase of the Fuse or the View, as they have the same MSC (Mass Storage Class) mode available to mount this device as a flash drive.

And to think, we were going to purchase an iPod and deal with it.

I'm going to purchase a Fuse and find out how well it works.  Wish me luck!








By: Reindeer

An update:

It turns out that the Sansa View does not have MSC mode, so don't buy it.

Called Sandisk and told them how disappointed I was about being told that this unit did have the MSC mode for USB devices.

On the plus side, the Fuse works fine, as expected.  I just mount it like a flash drive and drag and drop my music onto the Music directory.  No problems.


By: Cozzie

I too have a Sensa MP3 player which I can't get to work in Linux.  Unfortunately the advise given that you select the USB mode wont work for me as my Settings don't include this option.

By: Al Hafi

you have to update the firmware of your sansa @Cozzie

By: Anonymous

Try Settings > System Settings > USB mode 

 (at least that's what it is for the Samsa Clip + )

By: Mr. BiggelsWorth

I have the sansa e250, and couldn't figure out why it wouldn't mount in linux (btw, I am using fedora 13).  I searched and found this article right away, and now it works! 

 Thank you for this excellent tutorial.

By: Anonymous

I was about to rage over this, but your post saved me.

Thanks much,


By: Anonymous


By: Anonymous

got linux to recognize my sansa, no problem - thanks!

i have one track lurking in there as 'unknown' though & having trouble getting rid of it -  where do i type in 'mkdosfs -F 32 [directory]'?

guessing it might rid me of this 'unknown' track ...?


By: Anonymous

I assume that since that command makes a file system like ms dos, you have to do it where the music actually is.  So in /media/samsaclip or whatever.

By: thewordsmith

Thanx. I have a SanDisk Sansa Clip+ 4GB and article this worked great on my Fedora 13 system.

By: George Leiter

That was easy, thanks.

By: Chris

I love my little mp3 player but I couldn't get it to mount Ubuntu versions later than 12.04.
Now I can.. thanks!

Clementine player works very well with Sansa.
thanks again!

By: Deborah

What a mess.  Followed the directions and gained access to Sansa on Linux.  Added music.  But the music already on Sansa does not show up in Linux.  Nor does it show up on Windows.  Only the music I added after the MSC reset.  So all that I can see on either computer is the music I just added.  The music is still all there on Sansa, but I can't see it on either computer.  So now I have a mess. 

By: L

Thank you so much! Found my old sansa e250 from 2008 and thanks to your effort to share your experiences in this homepage I can still use it, although I'm a linux user these days. Greetings from Berlin, L