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13  Advanced Topics

13.1 Customising the User Interface
13.1.1 Customising The Main Menu
13.1.2 Getting Extras
13.1.3 Loading Fonts
13.1.4 Loading Languages
13.1.5 Loading Backdrops
13.1.6 UI Viewport
13.2 Configuring the Theme
13.2.1 Themeing – General Info
13.2.2 Themes – Create Your Own
13.2.3 Info Viewport (SBS only)
13.2.4 Additional Fonts
13.3 Managing Rockbox Settings
13.3.1 Introduction to .cfg Files
13.3.2 Specifications for .cfg Files
13.3.3 The Manage Settings menu
13.4 Firmware Loading
13.4.1 Using ROLO (Rockbox Loader)
13.5 Optimising battery runtime
13.5.1 Display backlight
13.5.2 Anti-Skip Buffer
13.5.3 Replaygain
13.5.4 Peak Meter
13.5.5 Audio format and bitrate
13.5.6 Sound settings

13.1  Customising the User Interface

13.1.1  Customising The Main Menu

It is possible to customise the main menu, i.e. to reorder or to hide some of its items (only the main menu can be customised, submenus can not). To accomplish this, load a .cfg file (as described in section 13.3) containing the following line: root menu order:items, where “items” is a comma separated list (no spaces around the commas!) of the following words: bookmarks, files, database, wps, settings, recording, radio, playlists, plugins, system_menu, shortcuts. Each of the words, if it occurs in the list, activates the appropriate item in the main menu. The order of the items is given by the order of the words in the list. The items whose words do not occur in the list will be hidden, with one exception: the menu item Settings will be shown even if its word is not in the list (it is added as the last item then).

The following configuration example will change the main menu so that it will contain only the items for the file browser, for resuming the playback, and for changing the settings (the latter will be added automatically).

  root menu order:files,wps

To reset the menu items to the default, use root menu order:- (i.e. use a hyphen instead of “items”).

This configuration entry can only be created and edited with a text editor or the Main Menu Config Plugin (see section 12.4.12). It is not possible to change this setting via the settings menu.

13.1.2  Getting Extras

Rockbox supports custom fonts. A collection of fonts is available for download in the font package at http://www.rockbox.org/daily.shtml.

13.1.3  Loading Fonts

Rockbox can load fonts dynamically. Simply copy the .fnt file to the player and “play” it in the File Browser. If you want a font to be loaded automatically every time you start up, it must be located in the /.rockbox/fonts directory and the filename must be at most 24 characters long. You can browse the fonts in /.rockbox/fonts under Settings Theme Settings Font in the Main Menu.

Note: Advanced Users Only: Any BDF font should be usable with Rockbox. To convert from .bdf to .fnt, use the convbdf tool. This tool can be found in the tools directory of the Rockbox source code. See CreateFonts#ConvBdf for more details. Or just run convbdf without any parameters to see the possible options.

13.1.4  Loading Languages

Rockbox can load language files at runtime. Simply copy the .lng file (do not use the .lang file) to the player and “play” it in the Rockbox directory browser or select Settings General Settings Language from the Main Menu.

Note: If you want a language to be loaded automatically every time you start up, it must be located in the /.rockbox/langs directory and the filename must be a maximum of 24 characters long.

If your language is not yet supported and you want to write your own language file find the instructions on the Rockbox website: LangFiles

13.1.5  Loading Backdrops

Rockbox supports showing an image as a backdrop in the File Browser and the menus. The backdrop image must be a .bmp file of the exact same dimensions as the display in your player (160×128×2 with the last number giving the colour depth in bits). To use an image as a backdrop browse to it in the File Browser and open the Context Menu (see section 4.1.2) on it and select the option Set As Backdrop. If you want rockbox to remember your backdrop the next time you start your player the backdrop must be placed in the /.rockbox/backdrops directory.

13.1.6  UI Viewport

By default, the UI is drawn on the whole screen. This can be changed so that the UI is confined to a specific area of the screen, by use of a UI viewport. This is done by adding the following line to the .cfg file for a theme:

ui viewport: X,Y,[width],[height],[font],[fgshade],[bgshade]

Only the first two parameters have to be specified, the others can be omitted using ‘-’ as a placeholder. The syntax is very similar to WPS viewports (see section 13.2.2). Briefly:

  ui viewport: 15,20,100,150,-,-,-

This displays the menu starting at 15px from the left of the screen and 20px from the top of the screen. It is 100px wide and 150px high. The font and the foreground/background shades are defined in the theme .cfg file or in the Theme Settings menu.

13.2  Configuring the Theme

13.2.1  Themeing – General Info

There are various different aspects of the Rockbox interface that can be themed – the WPS or While Playing Screen, the FMS or FM Screen (if the player has a tuner), and the SBS or Base Skin. The WPS is the name used to describe the information displayed on the player’s screen whilst an audio track is being played, the FMS is the screen shown while listening to the radio, and the SBS lets you specify a base skin that is shown in the menus and browsers, as well as the WPS and FMS. The SBS also allows you to control certain aspects of the appearance of the menus/browsers. There are a number of themes included in Rockbox, and you can load one of these at any time by selecting it in Settings Theme Settings Browse Theme Files. It is also possible to set individual items of a theme from within the Settings Theme Settings menu.

13.2.2  Themes – Create Your Own

The theme files are simple text files, and can be created (or edited) in your favourite text editor. To make sure non-English characters display correctly in your theme you must save the theme files with UTF-8 character encoding. This can be done in most editors, for example Notepad in Windows 2000 or XP (but not in 9x/ME) can do this.

Files Locations:
Each different “themeable” aspect requires its own file – WPS files have the extension .wps, FM screen files have the extension .fms, and SBS files have the extension .sbs. The main theme file has the extension .cfg. All files should have the same name.

The theme .cfg file should be placed in the /.rockbox/themes directory, while the .wps, .fms and .sbs files should be placed in the /.rockbox/wps directory. Any images used by the theme should be placed in a subdirectory of /.rockbox/wps with the same name as the theme, e.g. if the theme files are named mytheme.wps, mytheme.sbs etc., then the images should be placed in /.rockbox/wps/mytheme.

All full list of the available tags are given in appendix section D; some of the more powerful concepts in theme design are discussed below.

Note: Keep in mind that your player’s resolution is 160×128×2 (with the last number giving the colour depth in bits) when designing your own WPS, or if you use a WPS designed for another target.


By default, a viewport filling the whole screen contains all the elements defined in each theme file. The elements in this viewport are displayed with the same background/ foreground shades and the text is rendered in the same font as in the main menu. To change this behaviour a custom viewport can be defined. A viewport is a rectangular window on the screen with its own foreground/background shades. This window also has variable dimensions. To define a viewport a line starting %V(has to be present in the theme file. The full syntax will be explained later in this section. All elements placed before the line defining a viewport are displayed in the default viewport. Elements defined after a viewport declaration are drawn within that viewport. Loading images (see Appendix section D.21) should be done within the default viewport. A viewport ends either with the end of the file, or with the next viewport declaration line. Viewports sharing the same coordinates and dimensions cannot be displayed at the same time. Viewports cannot be layered transparently over one another. Subsequent viewports will be drawn over any other viewports already drawn onto that area of the screen.

Viewport Declaration Syntax

%V(x,y,[width],[height],[font]) %Vf([fgshade]) %Vb([bgshade])

Note: The correct number of commas with hyphens in blank fields are still needed.

  %V(12,20,-,-,1) %Vf(0) %Vb(3)
  %sThis viewport is displayed permanently. It starts 12px from the left and
  %s20px from the top of the screen, and fills the rest of the screen from
  %sthat point. The lines will scroll if this text does not fit in the viewport.
  %sThe user font is used, the foreground colour is set to black and the
  %sbackground is set to white.

Viewport definition

Default value


remaining part of screen


user defined


black foreground on white background

Viewport Line Text Styles




Set the viewport text style to ‘mode’ from this point forward

Mode can be the following:




Restore the default style


Draw lines inverted


Draw the text coloured by the value given in ‘param’. Functionally equivalent to using the %Vf() tag

Conditional Viewports

Any viewport can be displayed either permanently or conditionally. Defining a viewport as %V(will display it permanently.

Viewports can share identifiers so that you can display multiple viewports with one %Vd line.

  %s%acThere you have it: Album art.
  %sNo album art found
  %scheck your filenames.

This example checks for album art. Album art will be displayed in viewport ‘a’, if it is found. Otherwise a flashing warning will be displayed in viewport ‘b’.

Note: The tag to display conditional viewports must come before the tag to preload the viewport in the .wps file.

13.2.3  Info Viewport (SBS only)

As mentioned above, it is possible to set a UI viewport via the theme .cfg file. It is also possible to set the UI viewport through the SBS file, and to conditionally select different UI viewports.

13.2.4  Additional Fonts

Additional fonts can be loaded within each screen file to be used in that screen. In this way not only can you have different fonts between e.g. the menu and the WPS, but you can use multiple fonts in each of the individual screens.


An example would be: %Fl(2,12-Nimbus.fnt,100)

Conditional Tags
Syntax: %?xx<true|false>

If the tag specified by “xx” has a value, the text between the “<” and the “|” is displayed (the true part), else the text between the “|” and the “>” is displayed (the false part). The else part is optional, so the “|” does not have to be specified if no else part is desired. The conditionals nest, so the text in the if and else part can contain all % commands, including conditionals.

Syntax: %?xx<alt1|alt2|alt3|…|else>

For tags with multiple values, like Play status, the conditional can hold a list of alternatives, one for each value the tag can have. Example enumeration:


The last else part is optional, and will be displayed if the tag has no value. The WPS parser will always display the last part if the tag has no value, or if the list of alternatives is too short.

Next Song Info

You can display information about the next song – the song that is about to play after the one currently playing (unless you change the plan).

If you use the upper-case versions of the three tags: F, I and D, they will instead refer to the next song instead of the current one. Example: %Ig is the genre name used in the next song and %Ff is the mp3 frequency.

Note: The next song information will not be available at all times, but will most likely be available at the end of a song. We suggest you use the conditional display tag a lot when displaying information about the next song!

Alternating Sublines

It is possible to group items on each line into 2 or more groups or “sublines”. Each subline will be displayed in succession on the line for a specified time, alternating continuously through each defined subline.

Items on a line are broken into sublines with the semicolon ‘;’ character. The display time for each subline defaults to 2 seconds unless modified by using the ‘%t’ tag to specify an alternate time (in seconds and optional tenths of a second) for the subline to be displayed.

Subline related special characters and tags:

Split items on a line into separate sublines
Set the subline display time. The ‘%t’ is followed by either integer seconds (%t5), or seconds and tenths of a second within () e.g. (%t(3.5)).

Each alternating subline can still be optionally scrolled while it is being displayed, and scrollable formats can be displayed on the same line with non-scrollable formats (such as track elapsed time) as long as they are separated into different sublines. Example subline definition:

   %s%t(4)%ia;%s%it;%t(3)%pc %pr : Display id3 artist for 4 seconds,
                               Display id3 title for 2 seconds,
                               Display current and remaining track time
                               for 3 seconds,

Conditionals can be used with sublines to display a different set and/or number of sublines on the line depending on the evaluation of the conditional. Example subline with conditionals:


The format above will do two different things depending if ID3 tags are present. If the ID3 artist and title are present:

If the ID3 artist and title are not present:

Note that by using a subline display time of 0 in one branch of a conditional, a subline can be skipped (not displayed) when that condition is met.

Using Images

You can have as many as 52 images in your WPS. There are various ways of displaying images:

Load and always show the image, using the %x tag
Preload the image with %xl and show it with %xd. This way you can have your images displayed conditionally.
Load an image and show as backdrop using the %X tag. The image must be of the same exact dimensions as your display.

Example on background image use:


The image with filename background.bmp is loaded and used in the WPS.

Example on bitmap preloading and use:


Four images at the same x and y position are preloaded in the example. Which image to display is determined by the %mm tag (the repeat mode).

Example File

  %s%?in<%in - >%?it<%it|%fn> %?ia<[%ia%?id<, %id>]>

That is, “tracknum – title [artist, album]”, where most fields are only displayed if available. Could also be rendered as “filename” or “tracknum – title [artist]”.

13.3  Managing Rockbox Settings

13.3.1  Introduction to .cfg Files

Rockbox allows users to store and load multiple settings through the use of configuration files. A configuration file is simply a text file with the extension .cfg.

A configuration file may reside anywhere on the disk. Multiple configuration files are permitted. So, for example, you could have a car.cfg file for the settings that you use while playing your jukebox in your car, and a headphones.cfg file to store the settings that you use while listening to your player through headphones.

See section 13.3.2 below for an explanation of the format for configuration files. See section 13.3.3 for an explanation of how to create, edit and load configuration files.

13.3.2  Specifications for .cfg Files

The Rockbox configuration file is a plain text file, so once you use the Save .cfg file option to create the file, you can edit the file on your computer using any text editor program. See Appendix section E for available settings. Configuration files use the following formatting rules:

Each setting must be on a separate line.
Each line has the format “setting: value”.
Values must be within the ranges specified in this manual for each setting.
Lines starting with # are ignored. This lets you write comments into your configuration files.

Example of a configuration file:

  volume: 70
  bass: 11
  treble: 12
  balance: 0
  time format: 12hour
  volume display: numeric
  show files: supported
  wps: /.rockbox/car.wps
  lang: /.rockbox/afrikaans.lng

Note: As you can see from the example, configuration files do not need to contain all of the Rockbox options. You can create configuration files that change only certain settings. So, for example, suppose you typically use the player at one volume in the car, and another when using headphones. Further, suppose you like to use an inverse LCD when you are in the car, and a regular LCD setting when you are using headphones. You could create configuration files that control only the volume and LCD settings. Create a few different files with different settings, give each file a different name (such as car.cfg, headphones.cfg, etc.), and you can then use the Browse .cfg files option to quickly change settings.

A special case configuration file can be used to force a particular setting or settings every time Rockbox starts up (e.g. to set the volume to a safe level). Format a new configuration file as above with the required setting(s) and save it into the /.rockbox directory with the filename fixed.cfg.

13.3.3  The Manage Settings menu

The Manage Settings menu can be found in the Main Menu. The Manage Settings menu allows you to save and load .cfg files.

Browse .cfg Files
Opens the File Browser in the /.rockbox directory and displays all .cfg (configuration) files. Selecting a .cfg file will cause Rockbox to load the settings contained in that file. Pressing Menu will exit back to the Manage Settings menu. See the Write .cfg files option on the Manage Settings menu for details of how to save and edit a configuration file.
Reset Settings
This wipes the saved settings in the player and resets all settings to their default values.
Save .cfg File
This option writes a .cfg file to your player’s disk. The configuration file has the .cfg extension and is used to store all of the user settings that are described throughout this manual.

Hint: Use the Save .cfg File feature (Main Menu Manage Settings) to save the current settings, then use a text editor to customize the settings file. See Appendix section E for the full reference of available options.

Save Sound Settings
This option writes a .cfg file to your player’s disk. The configuration file has the .cfg extension and is used to store all of the sound related settings.
Save Theme Settings
This option writes a .cfg file to your player’s disk. The configuration file has the .cfg extension and is used to store all of the theme related settings.

13.4  Firmware Loading

13.4.1  Using ROLO (Rockbox Loader)

Rockbox is able to load and start another firmware file without rebooting. You just “play” a file with the extension This can be used to test new firmware versions without deleting your current version.

13.5  Optimising battery runtime

Rockbox offers a lot of settings that have high impact on the battery runtime of your player. The largest power savings can be achieved through disabling unneeded hardware components – for some of those there are settings available.

Another area of savings is avoiding or reducing CPU boosting through disabling computing intense features (e.g. sound processing) or using effective audio codecs. The following provides a short overview of the most relevant settings and rules of thumb.

13.5.1  Display backlight

The active backlight consumes a lot of power. Therefore choose a setting that disables the backlight after timeout (for setting Backlight see section 8.4). Avoid having the backlight enabled all the time (Activating selectivebacklight section 8.4 can further reduce power consumption).

13.5.2  Anti-Skip Buffer

Having a large anti-skip buffer tends to use more power, and may reduce your battery life. It is recommended to always use the lowest possible setting that allows correct and continuous playback (see section 7.5).

13.5.3  Replaygain

Replaygain is a post processing that equalises the playback volume of audio files to the same perceived loudness. This post processing applies a factor to each single PCM sample and is therefore consuming additional CPU time. If you want to achieve some (minor) savings in runtime, switch this feature off (see section 7.9).

13.5.4  Peak Meter

The peak meter is a feature of the While Playing Screen and will be updated with a high framerate. Depending on your player this might result in a high CPU load. To save battery runtime you should switch this feature off (see section 4.3.2).

13.5.5  Audio format and bitrate

In general the fastest decoding audio format will be the best in terms of battery runtime on your player. An overview of different codec’s performance on different players can be found at CodecPerformanceComparison.

Your target uses a hard disk which consumes a large amount of power while spinning – up to several hundred mA. The less often the hard disk needs to spin up for buffering and the shorter the buffering duration is, the lower is the power consumption. Therefore the bitrate of the audio files does have an impact on the battery runtime as well. Lower bitrate audio files will result in longer battery runtime.

Please do not re-encode any existing audio files from one lossy format to another based upon the above mentioned. This will reduce the audio quality. If you have the choice, select the best suiting codec when encoding the original source material.

13.5.6  Sound settings

In general all kinds of sound processing will need more CPU time and therefore consume more power. The less sound processing you use, the better it is for the battery runtime (for options see section 6).