Have found an old 80GB ipod classic that has bout 31GB of orphaned tracks on that can be can be copied to the local disk.
I’m using the guide at https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/IPod.
But when it comes to synching the music basic to the ipod, things get nasty. So far I have tried Banshee (crashes with content sync), rhythm box (possibly the worst designed interface of any application, sorry, but it’s awful); amarok (really confusing interface and can’t get past empty ‘transcode’ dropdown list before initializing the ipod and hard to tell whether it’s actually doing anyting); gtkpod (the less said the better, can’t detect the ipod); floola and yamipod packages don’t exist.
Of the bunch, Banshee is the only application that actually makes an attempt to sync content to the device but appears to have just too many errors before the segfault.
Even with all these problems, at least the device is actually detected; my Android phone is a complete blank in Antegros despite lots of MTP shenanigans. Given the number of options listed on the help pages it seems fairly obvious that this is all wing-and-a-prayer stuff.
I’m not saying that al this should be easy, but it shouldn’t be this difficult.
Update: by one means or another, gtkpod managed to copy 74 songs to the ipod. And having made it writeable, Amarok has a sync option to just copy the files rather than transcode them (which is what does for Banshee); all looking quite promising. But I really wish I knew what it is that I have done to get to this point: it’s all well and good Amarok grabbing the lyrics to songs, but I do wish it had a progress bar telling me how far through copying the 3100 songs it has got..