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GNOME on the Road; Rolling out the Red Carpet - page 2

Improving GNOME via Subscription

  • November 20, 2000
  • By Michael Hall

For a writer, COMDEX is all about making appointments. In the week leading up to the convention, I was syncing my Visor on an hourly basis to make sure everything was up to date as appointments, corrections, and cancellations came and went. Just before going out the door to the airport, I synced up one last time and copied the calendar in ~/.gnome/user-cal.vcf over to my laptop.

The gnome-pilot package is an excellent for managing a PalmOS-based device, making sure the device is backed up, and working with the GNOME calendar and address book. It provides a painless interface to the device requiring little more than knowledge of which serial port the cradle is connected to.

Helix Code has packaged gnome-pilot and the necessary support files, to use gnome-pilot you need:

  • gnome-pilot
  • pilot-link
  • gnome-pilot-conduits
  • libgnome-pilot0

Once these are all installed on your machine, gnome-pilot can be invoked for the first time by simply adding the applet to your GNOME panel. Under Helix GNOME, that can be done by selecting Programs/Applets/Utility/PilotSync from the top menu panel on your GNOME desktop. If you haven't run gnome-pilot before, that invokes a Druid that walks through the process of setting the Palm up for use.

The most important setting for gnome-pilot is the port. During the Debian setup of pilot-link (the underlying mechanism for making the Palm talk to the computer correctly), you're asked which port your cradle is attached to and a symbolic link is set from that port to /dev/pilot. Otherwise, you should either set the symbolic link yourself or just remember which port your Palm is attached to, keeping in mind, as usual, that serial ports in Linux are a little different from what DOS/Windows users may be used to:

Serial Port Name
Windows Linux
COM 1 /dev/ttyS0
COM 2 /dev/ttyS1
COM 3 /dev/ttyS2
COM 4 /dev/ttyS3

The next step of the Druid is also important since it sets the userid for the information coming off the Palm. If you've used your device with a computer before, the Druid will pull the information off the Palm, otherwise it will set your name and userid on the device. It's important to get this right because the GNOME calendar displays only information for your userid. It's possible to edit the calendar file by hand if your userid gets messed up, or if you move your information over to a machine where your user number is different, but that's a hassle... best to let the Druid handle this correctly the first time.

Once you've finished with the Druid, right clicking on the Pilot logo on your panel and selecting 'Restart daemon' will put the daemon into listening mode.

You can configure GNOME Pilot from the GNOME control center. It's especially important to note the settings there, since they determine how data is synchronized. The first time around, you may want to set the calendar and address book conduits to copy from the Palm to the target apps if you've never used them before. Once the initial sync is done, you should go back and set these conduits to "synchronize" so your data is kept up correctly with each sync operation. You can find the settings for the Palm on the top menu bar of the desktop by selecting Settings/Peripherals/Pilot Conduits.

You can get at your information after a successful sync with the GNOME Calendar (gnomecal) and GNOME Address Book (gnomecard) programs. Both can be found under Programs/Applications in the Helix Code menu bar.

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