MPIO pain

Why is my USB so messed upon Ubuntu? First my cell phone data cable doesn't work properly, and now my MPIO FL100 MP3 player doesn't work right. What's the deal?

Let me rewind and give some background. A few years ago, my parents gave me a 128MB MPIO FL100 MP3 player for my birthday. It's a nice enough player, with a display and decent controls, but it's not Linux-friendly. In other words, it doesn't work as a block device, so you can't just mount it as a USB hard drive. It requires special software.

Fortunately, such software exists for Linux. The MPIO project over at SourceForge hosts it. It has both a command-line application (similar to an FTP client, for some reason) and a simple KDE-based front end. Of course, this project is now almost completely dead save for a post to the mailing list every month or two, so any hope of bug fixes or new features seems unfounded, but the software still works.

Or, it did until recently, when I noticed that this player no longer works properly under Dapper. I'm not sure exactly when the problem started - if it was the upgrade to Dapper or some upgrade since then. Either way, things are definitely no longer normal.

I'm now having trouble connecting to the device. I experimented this evening, and it seems I need to be root in order to connect to it. When connecting as a normal user, which used to work perfectly, I now get a message that the device cannot be found. Connecting as root, however, seems fine. The first time, at least. If I disconnect the software and try again, I get a message like this:
mpio: src/io.c(766): mpio_io_read: libusb returned error: (ffffff92) "No error"
mpio: src/io.c(816): mpio_io_version_read: Failed to read Sector.(nread=0xffffff92)
mpio: src/mpio.c(409): mpio_init: Unknown version string found!
Please report this to: mpio-devel@lists.sourceforge.net
mpio: src/mpio.c(410): mpio_init: data=0x8052820 len=64
mpio: 0000: 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 20 20 20 20 ............
mpio: 0010: 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 ................
mpio: 0020: 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 ................
mpio: 0030: 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 ................
mpio: src/mpio.c(171): mpio_init_internal: WARNING: no internal memory found
It seems to work again if I physically disconnect the device.

This is growing to be a pain. At this point, I guess the main question is, how much effort do I want to put into fixing support for a now obselete device? I'm guessing the answer is going to be "not that much."

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