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Palm and Linux: Making the Connection - page 4

Connecting with Pilot-Link

  • April 3, 2000
  • By Michael Hall

Pilot-link forms the foundation for several GUI-oriented tools available for the Palm, which is why we spent so much time making sure it was running properly before looking at GUI-based software. KDE and GNOME include programs that work with their standard calendar and address-book utilities, and there are several other packages that aren't tied to any particular desktop environment.

One thing all these tools have in common is use of "conduits". Conduits are ways in which Palms communicate with computer softwarer. You can use conduits to synchronize your schedule, download mail, and update your addressbook. Almost all software that links a Palm and a computer depends on conduits, and all the software I'll be covering uses the term "conduit," so it's a concept worth noting.

KDE's Kpilot
Kpilot is KDE's Palm software. It includes a program much like the HotSync manager that runs in the system tray on Microsoft Windows. While some features of kpilot are only supported under KDE, it can be used with any (or no) desktop environment, and in conjunction with organizer software other than that provided with KDE.

Kpilot's homepage is located at http://www.slac.com/pilone/kpilot_home/, but it's included as part of the standard KDE distribution, so you should only need to download the newest version if having problems with the software.

If kpilot is installed, you'll be able to find it under KDE's "Utilities" menu. Run it by selecting it from the menu, or typing kpilot from the command line. One "gotcha" you may encounter on starting kpilot is the kpilotDaemon program complaining about being unable to "bind to a socket". If that's the case, check the file /etc/hosts to make sure it has a line that looks like this:

127.0.0.1     localhost.localdomain   localhost

If you don't see that line, log in as root and add it.

You'll also need to make sure kpilot knows which port your Palm's cradle is connected to. kpilot is configured to connect to a cradle connected to /dev/pilot, so if you created the /dev/pilot link to your computer's serial port while setting up pilot-link, you won't have to change this setting. If you didn't, you can select the correct serial port from a drop-down menu. If unsure of which port your Palm cradle is connected to, consult the chart provided in the section where we configured pilot-link. You can also set the rate at which your Palm and computer communicate, as you did with PILOTRATE when you were configuring pilot-link earlier. Set this to the same speed as PILOTRATE.

There are a couple of other basic options that are largely self-explanatory and documented, but the most important for using kpilot with the KDE calendar (kalendar or korganizer) and addressbook (kab) are in the Conduit menu, displayed once you adjust the basic settings and have the main kpilot program window on-screen.

There are three conduits available with kpilot: popmail_conduit, todo_conduit, and vcalconduit. Activate any of these conduits by clicking once to highlight, and then clicking on the right-facing arrow to move it from the "Available Conduits" to the "Installed Conduits" column. Once it's in the "Installed" column, configure it by clicking on it and clicking "Setup".

Also, todo_conduit and vcalconduit both need to be told where the calendar file is located. You may need to start kalendar and save an empty calendar file from the File menu so todo_conduit and vcalconduit can be set accordingly. vcalconduit, it should also be noted, is compliant with the vcal standard. That means users may use vcal-compliant software with kpilot, not just korganizer.

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