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Palm and Linux: Making the Connection - page 5

Connecting with Pilot-Link

  • April 3, 2000
  • By Michael Hall
The GNOME desktop environment has also added Palm support. Unlike kpilot, the GNOME Pilot project is a little rougher, and is under more active development. If just interested in making your Palm work with the GNOME calendar and address book, though, GNOME Pilot is usable.

One important thing to note if you plan to take advantage of GNOME's Palm support is that it requires the very latest pilot-link, which is currently at version 0.9.3. Red Hat versions before 6.2, Debian 2.1, and most other distributions will require an upgrade. Depending on how closely you track GNOME development, you may also need to upgrade your version of the GNOME calendar and addressbook packages (gnome-pim).

The source files and RPMs for the correct version of pilot-link as well as the sources and RPMs for GNOME Pilot support are all at the GNOME Pilot website, http://www.gnome.org/gnome-pilot/ . Once there, read the available pointers and documentation carefully: GNOME Pilot is still under heavy development, which could pose some problems for novice users. The GNOME desktop environment has also added Palm support. Unlike kpilot, the GNOME Pilot project is a little more rough, and under more active development. If you're just interested in making your Palm work with the GNOME calendar and address book, though, GNOME Pilot is usable.

One important thing to note if you plan to take advantage of GNOME's Palm support is that it requires the very latest pilot-link, which is currently at version 0.9.3. Red Hat versions before 6.2, Debian 2.1, and most other distributions, will require an upgrade. Depending on how closely you track GNOME development, you may also need to upgrade your version of the GNOME calendar and addressbook packages (gnome-pim).

The source files and RPMs for the correct version of pilot-link as well as the sources and RPMs for GNOME Pilot support are all at the GNOME Pilot website, http://www.gnome.org/gnome-pilot/ . Once there, read the available pointers and documentation carefully: GNOME Pilot is still under heavy development, which could pose some problems for novice users.

After installing the GNOME Pilot packages, run the pilot-sync applet. Find this in the GNOME Panel menu by selecting "Panel", then"Add to Panel", "Applet", "Utility", then"pilot-sync". This will bring up a GNOME "Druid" to help you configure it for use with your Palm. At one point in the installation process, you'll be asked which directory your Palm data should live in. After deciding on a directory name, make sure to created this directory with mkdir before trying to sync the Palm. Once you've successfully completed installation with the Druid, you'll see the pilot-sync applet in your panel. Right-clicking on that applet will allow you to restart the pilot-sync daemon and set configuration options.

As noted earlier, GNOME Pilot is under heavy development. This means that not every feature works correctly. Inexperienced users and those simply unwilling to put up with the sorts of bugs found in newer software might want to consider another package. If you need a little help, the FAQ can be found at http://www.gnome.org/gnome-pilot/documents/FAQ.html .

JPilot Recreates the Palm Desktop
JPilot largely recreates the Palm Desktop familiar to Microsoft Windows users. It includes calendar, to-do, addressbook, and file installation conduits. Like the KDE and GNOME packages, it requires pilot-link, and also version 1.2 of the GTK toolkit, available on most current distributions. There is more about it at http://www.gtk.org.

You can find JPilot at http://jpilot.linuxave.net/, where both source and RPMs are available. Even though JPilot is a GUI-based program, you'll must open an xterm to run it, since it isn't part of any desktop environment and doesn't include itself in their menus automatically. Just open an xterm and enter the command jpilot&.

After installing JPilot, be sure to configure the program to use the correct serial port to talk to thePalm's cradle. Check out "Preferences" under the "File" menu. If you made the link between cradle serial port and /dev/pilot while setting up pilot-link, just type /dev/pilot into the correct field.

PilotManager isn't designed to integrate with a particular desktop environment, nor is it designed to emulate the Palm Desktop. It does, however, synchronize with several common Unix/Linux programs, including the popular Plan calendar software and the Big Brother Database, an Emacs address book. It also offers file backup and installation, plus a few other conduits. The PilotManager home page, located at http://www.moshpit.org/pilotmgr/, has a lot of documentation, plus archives of its active mailing lists.

PilotManager is a great solution for Debian users, since it comes with Debian 2.1 (Slink), which already includes the packages you need to run it "out of the box."

One pitfall for users of newer Linux distributions is that there are no Linux versions of PilotManager compiled against Perl 5.005--the standard on most current distributions. The documentation for how to compile a working version for systems with Perl 5.005 is available in the download files. Users of Red Hat prior to 6.0 should also check out the Red Hat FAQ on the PilotManager home page.

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