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Synchronizing your Palm PDA with Linux

By on January 19, 2006 (8:00:00 AM)

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Ready to synchronize your Palm OS-based PDA with your Linux desktop? Here's a trio of GUI-based options and a command-line tool for you to try.

If you just want to sync between your PDA and PC, you can't go wrong by using trusty old KDE. The current version is 3.5, but you'll be fine with anything greater than version 2.0. Simply start KDE's KPilot tool, which is usually on the main KDE menu under Utilities.

If this is the first time you've used your Palm PDA with Linux, you may be a bit daunted by the prospect -- but don't be. KPilot makes the process completely automatic. When you start KPilot, it recognizes whether you're linking for the first time, and starts its wizard to identify which USB device to use. This removes the only possible headache in the whole process -- the need to know which devices KPilot should work with. (As a matter of interest, it will probably be /dev/ttyUSB1, but don't worry, the wizard will find the right one.) You don't even need to remember your user name for your handheld device, since KPilot looks it up once a connection is made.

When KPilot has finished the setup process, you will have a handy little PDA that can be used with Linux. KPilot will start every time you reboot the PC and wait in KDE's system tray. Press the sync button on the PDA and any changes that you've made, such as new notes or email message, will be passed back to KDE's KOrganizer and KMail. If you don't like working with these, you have the option of using Evolution, a desktop personal organizer and email application.

The GNOME option

What's that? You don't use KDE? No problem. Using your Palm PDA with GNOME is almost as easy as using it with KDE.

Your first job is to install gnome-pilot and start the interface. Gnome-pilot differs from KPilot in some obvious ways. First, you won't find any wizards that help you by looking up user details or devices, because this is GNOME and you're expected to know what you are doing.

The second thing you'll notice about gnome-pilot is that it doesn't actually sync with anything to start with. (GNOME isn't going to limit your choices by doing everything for you.) You'll be able to transfer files to your Palm OS device and get backups from it, but that's all. If you need more options, you'll have to transfer the data into other applications so you can view it in a nice format. If you're not up to writing your own conduits (code that will transfer PDA data into Linux applications and vice versa), then you'll need software such as Evolution, which provides the conduits for gnome-pilot.

Not exactly what you're looking for? Perhaps you don't need the full KDE, or you feel that Evolution is more than you require, especially if you already have a good email application. If all you want is a simple personal organizer for the PC that can work directly with your Palm device, consider J-Pilot.

J-Pilot is the only one of these three applications whose interface is completely self-contained. If you're using KDE, you'll need to use KPilot in conjunction with KOrganizer and KMail or Evolution. If you use gnome-pilot, you'll also need to use it with Evolution. By contrast, J-Pilot is a standalone application, giving you the same syncing abilities as KPilot and gnome-pilot and the same personal organizational features as KOrganizer and Evolution.

J-Pilot lacks KPilot's ability to look for the device used by your PDA, so you'll need to enter that manually (but since it's probably /dev/ttyUSB1 that's not really an issue). You also won't be able to interface with your handheld's email messages, as J-Pilot deals purely with the organizer side of things. However, if you want to sync with an email application on your PDA, there are a number of plugins available for J-Pilot, and two of them -- jpilot-Mail and pilot-mailsync -- provide syncing with email applications.

All of these applications work even on old hardware. My test equipment for this article included an old Palm Zire M150 running Palm OS 4.0 and an even older 400MHz Patriot PC with 64M of memory and running Debian 3.1. I connected them using a USB cable.

The command-line option

So far, we've looked at syncing with GUI-type applications only. If you only want to transfer data between your Palm device and PC, you can use pilot-link.

Pilot-link gives you a suite of command-line tools that allow you to communicate with your Palm PDA. In fact, some of the applications we discussed above, such as pilot-mailsync, need pilot-link installed in order to work.

You can transfer data to your Palm Pilot very easily. For instance, the following will send a text file called schedule.txt to the handheld and create a new memo:

install-memo -t schedule.txt

Next, you simply tap the sync button on the handheld. You can then go to its Memo Pad and look at the new memo, which will be named schedule.txt. To bring data back to the PC, type:

memos -r schedule.txt > new_schedule.txt

You will see a text file containing the contents of the memo schedule.txt.

With pilot-link, you can run a script during the night (perhaps using crontab to download information from a database), and then sync with that data in the morning. Likewise, in the evening, you can upload data from your Palm device and then use another script to store new information in the database.

Each of the commonly available tools for syncing a PDA with Linux has its advantages and disadvantages. The GUI types are easy to use, albeit limited in what they can do. The command-line applications are more primitive, but allow for a great deal of freedom -- and isn't freedom what Linux is all about?

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on Synchronizing your Palm PDA with Linux

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What an outdated article of limited use

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on January 20, 2006 02:41 AM
Most Linux users with Palm/Treo/whatever devices have long been aware of these applications. What would be more worthy of focus are the lastest twists that the udev system throws into the mix and how long-time apps like Evolution still are problematic integrating their notion of calendar events with those of their Palm counterparts. At best, Palm support under Linux is problematic, stale, and long in need of serious redress and improvement.

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Re:What an outdated article of limited use

Posted by: CD Baric on January 20, 2006 04:12 AM
Unfortunately, Anonymous Reader is correct. Many Palm models experience fatal reactions to coupling with KPilot.



I would much rather see a progress report acknowledging the problems and suggesting some corrective activities.



It is a total disservice to the project to even suggest it is ready for prime time - it isn't.



Just the facts, mam!



Bar

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Re:What an outdated article of limited use

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on January 20, 2006 10:30 PM
Agreed, palm syncing with Linux is hit or miss, and flakey at best. I've tried numerous times to get a Treo to sync with evolution, and it is always an on again off again affair. And syncing always risks having certain things disapear when they shouldn't.

Though I apploud the developrs trying to make this work, this is not ready for prime time. Which is a very sad state to be in since these technologies and software have been out for so long.

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Re:What an outdated article of limited use

Posted by: wazoo on January 22, 2006 12:11 PM
I don't know about outdated, but it's certainly introductory. I've been synching successfully with Jpilot for a long time -- perfect every time. But that's with a somewhat older Palm these days, the M505. But when I try Evolution, I always lose data, or get doubled data.

On PCLinuxOS 9.2, I synch beautifully with Korganizer. With Ubuntu/Kubuntu, I get doubled data.

So I hang with JPilot, and don't seem to read about significant progress nailng down the solutions to these long standing sync issues.

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Z22 support?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on January 19, 2006 11:17 PM
I've got a Palm Z22. Does anyone know if these tools can synch with it? I checked the Web sites but can't find any information.

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Re:Z22 support?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on January 28, 2006 12:08 PM
pilot-xfer works for me with my Z22. Procedure is to hit the hotsync button on the palm, wait for a few seconds, then try "pilot-xfer -s dir". If it gives a "Unable to bind to port:<nobr> <wbr></nobr>/dev/ttyUSB1" message, then wait another few seconds and issue the pilot-xfer command again (no need to do anything new on the palm).

The various GUIs (jpilot and gnome anyway) haven't worked as well for me (some of them haven't seemed to work; others just haven't given me enough information so I can figure out whether they are working or not). Maybe it depends on which model of palm or whether I understand the GUI, I don't know.

This is on Fedora Core 4. I don't think I did anything particularly exotic to USB configuration or the like, although of course I wouldn't remember anything I did weeks ago when I set it all up<nobr> <wbr></nobr>;-).

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Re:Z22 support?

Posted by: Administrator on January 20, 2006 03:41 AM
I hav not tried syncing the z22 with linux. Did manage to sync my treo650 with SuSE 9.3 connecting with bluetooth though. Works fine. The only problem for the z22 i read about while googling is syncing photographs.

Good luck and
Blessed Be

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Palm T|X with kernel 2.6 ?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on January 20, 2006 01:54 AM
I used to use a palm V with kernel 2.4 without any problems whatsoever.
I've now tried to use a new Palm T|X with my latest Ubuntu (kernel 2.6.10-6-386).
It does not work and I have not found anyone who has managed to get it to work.

Is it a waste of my time to keep trying?
- is there *anyone* who has succeeded in syncing a T|X with a recent version of Ubuntu?
- if so - then what did you use? bluetooth? usb? IR?

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Re:Palm T|X with kernel 2.6 ?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on January 20, 2006 02:20 AM
How fortuitous... I just pulled out my M100 Tuesday and started syncing it up on my Ubuntu. The only oddity was to make sure I specified<nobr> <wbr></nobr>/dev/ttyS0 for my first serial port. I didn't know about pilot-link so now I have an answer of "do I have to cut and paste my text files?" ! Thank God, it's No.

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Re:Palm T|X with kernel 2.6 ?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on January 20, 2006 04:42 PM
I managed to sync my T|X with Fedora Core and jpilot via bluetooth and wlan.
A good staring point is the following:
<a href="http://www.clasohm.com/blog/swcat/12110" title="clasohm.com">http://www.clasohm.com/blog/swcat/12110</a clasohm.com>

Be carful with kpilot and palm OS5 though, it always delets everything on my palm<nobr> <wbr></nobr>:(

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Re:Palm T|X with kernel 2.6 ?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on January 21, 2006 08:37 AM
Thanx ! Appreciate it!

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Re:Palm T|X with kernel 2.6 ?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on January 24, 2006 03:37 AM
is there *anyone* who has succeeded in syncing a T|X with a recent version of Ubuntu?


Not with Ubuntu, per se, but Debian, and the answer is "yes". I use jpilot, and I connect to<nobr> <wbr></nobr>/dev/ttyUSB1. One key with using a Palm with kernel 2.6 and the hal/udev device management is that you start the sync process on the Palm first, which in turn causes the device in<nobr> <wbr></nobr>/dev to be created, then you start the sync in jpilot. Otherwise you'll get "no such device" or similar error from jpilot.

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re: Z22 Support

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on January 20, 2006 03:14 AM
I am using pilot-link to sync 2 z22s with this <a href="http://www.notbig.org/a/z22.sh.txt" title="notbig.org">script</a notbig.org>

It works good so far, but the script is not done.

Jim

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Treo...

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on January 20, 2006 04:34 AM
The question that I have trouble finding answers to is what, if any, of it will work with my Treo. With a regular Palm I don't mind taking chances... with my (expensive!) phone, I'm a bit more cautious and want to read that it works -before- plugging it in.

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Re:Treo...

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on January 23, 2006 06:13 PM
I hate KDE's sync options. It keeps changing every release and I've had KDE crash hard on me many times while syncing. I haven't tried GNOME sync options. However, jpilot works beautifully. I've been using jpilot to sync my Treo 600 happily for over an year now.

The only problem I've faced is that is the Linux kernel seems to crash if there are a lot of photos to download. I don't use the camera much any way (and I don't know how to extract the synced photos on Linux), so this has not been an issue for me.+

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Re:Treo...

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on January 23, 2006 09:02 PM
I sync my Treo 650 with Ubuntu 5.10, I use jpilot, but I had to first sync it with Kpilot before jpilot syncing would work.

I never lost and data this way.

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lower back pain

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on May 28, 2006 05:48 PM
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Sync'ing eats my data

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on January 20, 2006 07:42 AM
Palm Tungsten E. Sync at work with Win XP just fine. Trying syncing at home with Jpilot or Kpilot under Fedora Core 4 and bad stuff happens. For example. All meetings from as far back as 1998 get restored to my Outlook calendar and have to be manually deleted. All categories on contacts get lost and dumped into "unfiled". All personal/business attributes get lost on calendar items. All calendar entries get deleted (I know, conflicts with the first, but it happened). I'd like to fix it but it takes hours to restore after each failed try. Palm software and hardware used to act robust...but that hasn't been nearly as true since my Palm III.

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Re:Sync'ing eats my data

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on January 23, 2006 06:37 AM
Try <a href="http://www.jpilot.org/" title="jpilot.org">http://www.jpilot.org/</a jpilot.org>. Works very well.

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The problem is OS5 support

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on January 20, 2006 09:25 AM
KPilot (using pilot-link) ate some of my data last year, because it doesn't support the PalmOS 5. I've been waiting for it for over a year, but development on the pilot-link front seems slow.

I'm hoping OpenSync will support it, while bypassing pilot-link.

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A 4th option?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on January 20, 2006 04:59 PM
palm desktop and wine<nobr> <wbr></nobr>... has anyone tried this?

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Re:A 4th option?

Posted by: Administrator on January 20, 2006 11:08 PM
I'd use/try coldsync as a 4th option. Using Wine and palm desktop would be a last resort, in case I really cannot use any of the native software after months of testing.

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4th option..Jpilot

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on January 23, 2006 04:11 PM
I have a sony sj22, and to back it up, I use Jpilot. Works great, with gnome. I just wish is would work with evolution's address book

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a deamon for syncing with jpilot

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on January 24, 2006 05:20 AM
I don't run gnome or KDE, but openbox, and I use jpilot together with my Palm E. To avoid having to press the sync-button in jpilot I made this small script (called "jpilot-syncd") and placed it in ~/bin/:


#!/bin/bash
while [ 0 ]; do
jpilot-sync
done



Then I have the following in my ~/.xsession


~/bin/jpilot-syncd &



Now I simply have to press hotsync from the Palm to sync, even without jpilot running.

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relief joint

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on May 28, 2006 05:47 PM
[URL=http://painrelief.fanspace.com/index.htm] Pain relief [/URL]

  [URL=http://lowerbackpain.0pi.com/backpain.htm] Back Pain [/URL]

  [URL=http://painreliefproduct.guildspace.com] Pain relief [/URL]
[URL=http://painreliefmedic.friendpages.com] Pain relief [/URL]
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Re:a deamon for syncing with jpilot

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 26, 2006 09:44 AM
This can be done much more elgantly with udev. See <a href="http://wiki.z3.ca/PalmSync" title="z3.ca">http://wiki.z3.ca/PalmSync</a z3.ca>

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Re:A 4th option?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on January 16, 2007 04:26 AM
I tried installing the palm desktop under wine (on a fresh empty wined image) and didn't succeed.

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Synchronizing your Palm PDA with Linux

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 71.125.79.99] on September 29, 2007 12:55 AM
Sad to say but syncing within Linux is not ready for prime time. It's sad that I have to keep a Windoze partition on my hard drive to be sure that I can sync my Palm Treo 680, but this is the case. I wonder why can't Linux developers come up with better development for Palm devices that will allow you to sync consistently.

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Synchronizing your Palm PDA with Linux

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 12.207.5.156] on November 05, 2007 01:34 AM
Has anyone tried to sync Nokia N770 or N800 with KDE PIM apps? I'm looking for a PDA and trying to decide between the Palm T|X and Nokia N800. jwillar

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Synchronizing your Palm PDA with Linux

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 82.23.13.162] on December 04, 2007 11:18 PM
Gnome-phone-manager is the only gnome-based tool that I have used. Worked out of the box and enabled me to send SMS messages from a laptop through the phone. Too afraid to try evolution and loose data on the Treo. j-pilot works 3/4 times out of ten. pilot-xfer works flawlessly.

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