Palm Pilots and Linux

Using Your New Palm Pilot with Your Linux Box and Getting the Most Out of It

Recently, three of the LinuxNovice members bought new Palm Pilots and it was decided that this was a perfect opportunity to talk about using these great little gadgets with our favorite operating system.

When it comes to geeks, we love 2 things, challenges and gadgets, and Palm Pilots fit this to a tee. When I got mine home I couldn't wait to try it out. After the anticipation of the car ride home (I did have to drive after all) I immediately ripped into the box and got it out. The first thing I noticed was that they included batteries (having grown up in the batteries not included generation), and not only that, they were Duracell. I knew we were off to a good start.

Now my dilemma, I really wanted to try this out but in the Microsoft centric world the only software I had was the Windows stuff. Well fans, I broke down and rebooted (shamefully) into Windows and installed the software and put my Pilot into the cradle and hit the button. Beep Beep WOW, this was cool. I decided that I had to make this work in my regular Gnome desktop.

After promptly rebooting I started doing a little looking around and discovered that there are a lot of choices out there for Linux/Palm users. So where do I start. Well after a little reading I decided that the best looking option was a program called J-Pilot and after checking out their site I found that I needed 3 programs.

1. Pilot-Link
2. J-Pilot
3. GTK+

Now, GTK+ comes with most installations of Linux. It is the toolkit that programs like the Gimp and Gnome are built on. Pilot-Link is the software that lets the Pilot and the computer communicate via the cradle and the Com port. And J-Pilot is the actual Palm Desktop clone, and what a clone it is. All of these programs are available in RPM format, so if you can use then that way, please see here for help on installing RPM's
Once the programs are installed, you need to do two things. The Pilot-Link software expects a special device named pilot to exist in the /dev directory. This is the device it uses to communicate with the cradle. So what you need to do is log in as root and create a link from your Com port device to the pilot device. Before you do this you need to know which Com port you cradle is attached to. If it is Com1, then your tty device is ttyS0, if Com2 then it is ttyS1. If you have a serial mouse, you probably will be using Com2 (ttyS1) which is what we use in the example.