How to Sync a Palm Pilot on Linux (Ubuntu 9.04)

Once again, the actual steps to make this work are fairly simple, but for me, there was a lot of learning and a number of false starts. Here’s what worked:

1. Add ‘visor’ to /etc/modules. Use a text editor like su or nano to edit /etc/modules, just adding the word ‘visor’ at the end. If you Google this topic, (on useful forums like this) you’ll see a suggestion like: Type “sudo modprobe visor” at the command line and then try to sync. It should work at that point.

Okay, maybe it will, but that command is only good for your current session; next time you restart, you’ll have to type it again. Might as well fix /etc/modules.

2. Add a custom rule, per this site. What that rule does is a little beyond me, but it seems to resolve the discrepancy between /dev/pilot and /dev/ttyUSB1 (or /dev/ttyUSB0). These things seem to be called “devices,” which confuses me, because I think of the actual Palm Pilot Z22 itself as a device. One site called these things (/dev/pilot. etc.) as nodes where the device can exist.

After making those two changes, the Palm Pilot Z22 still did not sync with my Ubuntu 9.04 laptop (Dell Inspiron B130). I ran the GUI (System –> Preferences —> Palm OS Devices) many times, trying different choices.

3. Run the sync app from the command line, using the command ‘gpilotd’ Bang! It sync’d immediately. From there, enabling the conduits worked easily.

Frankly, I can’t be 100% sure that the first two steps noted above are necessary. I’m certainly not going to undo them and try it all over. But, for someone starting from scratch, first thing, if the GUI didn’t work, then I’d try to run ‘gpilotd’ from the command line. Then, if that didnt work, I’d make the changes noted in 1 and 2. Another possibility would be to specify /dev/ttyUSB1 in the GUI, then run gpilotd; just guessing.

Other Notes:

There is a lot to Google on this. Beware of old forum posts from 2003 that have become outdated. The concepts and issues may still apply, but typically there is an easier way to do it.

While trying to get this to work, I like informational commands that don’t DO anything, but just report statuses. From the command line, ‘dmesg’ gives some good info. Also ‘udevadm info xxx’ also gives some good info. If you Google this stuff, you might find a lot of references to “udevinfo xxx.” The newer syntax is “udevadm info xxx.”

Sync settings: USB, /dev/pilot, 57600. These were all the default settings, except for USB. (I think the net effect of that custom rule permits you to leave /dev/pilot here, while other parts of the OS need to identify the Palm as device /dev/ttyUSB1. As far as I can tell, this is the only way that works.)

After running ‘gpilotd’ at the command line, for the first sync, the Palm OS GUI app works just fine, and there is no need for you (or another user) to resort to the command line for routine use of the Palm Pilot.

Lastly, there is NO dedicated, separate Palm app to see your Calendar, Contacts, etc. The way it works is through sync’ing with the Evolution mail client. After the first, successful setup sync, and enabling some conduits, I struggled briefly, thinking “Okay, it is nice to be sync’d up, but where do I see this stuff?” On the Evolution mail client. Quite simple, actually,