I went to my trusty friend Google to search for an answer. On the one hand, there seems to be an abundant supply of help and how-to articles for Linux in general, and Ubuntu specifically. Unfortunately, much of that help is dated and it is hard--especially for a Linux novice--to tell that the information is no longer valid, which just adds extra effort and frustration to the process.
Case in point: Google directed me to a how-to article from eHow.com. That article starts off with steps about opening the Terminal command line interface in Ubuntu and using some archaic "sudo blah-blah-blah" command to download a program called WINE that lets you run Windows software from within Ubuntu. I tried to follow the instructions, but I was rejected. I assume it is because the instructions were version-specific, and since the version is no longer correct the instructions are useless. But, I could be wrong.
I did another search just for installing WINE in Ubuntu and found some simpler instructions for adding a download repository to the Ubuntu Software Center. Then, I just clicked a link and WINE downloaded and installed. Much simpler.
With WINE installed, I jumped back to the eHow.com instructions and resumed the quest for iTunes. I went to the link provided in the eHow.com instructions to download version 7.2 of iTunes--the most current version of iTunes that will work with Ubuntu according to the instructions. I installed it in WINE, but I got some error message at the end of the installation, and iTunes wouldn't run. It gave me an error about missing files.
Throwing caution to the wind, I just opened Firefox and went to iTunes.com and downloaded the current version. I installed it in WINE, and it worked...mostly. Kind of.
Each time I start iTunes, I get some error message about something missing from the Registry, but after I click OK iTunes opens up as it should. iTunes pulled in my music files from the designated folder and seems to work at face value. However, when I play a song it works fine for about two minutes and then just stops. No more music. Nothing. I have to shut down iTunes and restart it so I can listen to two minutes of music again.
Then, there is the issue of iTunes not detecting my iPhone. So, I still can't sync, and if I can't sync the iPhone and iPad, I don't need iTunes at all because I could just use the Banshee music player utility that came by default with Ubuntu. I'll bet it can even play a whole song. Maybe even an album or two.
And, here we are. Despite Apple's claims that the iPad is the harbinger of the "post-PC" era, it still requires a PC (as does the iPhone) to sync and update. But, apparently, in the world of Apple, Linux does not qualify as a "PC". So, even if I dedicate myself to living in Ubuntu for the next 30 days, I would still need to boot back into Windows periodically to sync my iOS devices.
I hate iTunes, but this experience has given me new appreciation for working with iTunes in Windows. See, here's the thing--in Windows I just install the software, and then it works (except for the part where I frequently have to use the Task Manager to forcibly shut it down when it freezes up).
I am open to suggestion Linux gurus. One thing I have determined about Linux is that there always seems to be a way. Given enough duct tape, chewing gum, and perspiration, there is a way to make it work. I guess my question, though, would be "why?" Why should we expect someone who just wants to use a computer to jump through hoops and bend over backwards just to make a simple program work when a much simpler alternative exists?