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Abstract: Getting my PDA to work with Linux.

Sony Clie PEG-S300/E

0. Resources

1. Sony Clie PEG-S300/E and Linux

1.1 The PDA: Technical Data

1.2 Ubuntu Linux

Please note: The bulk of this page is quite old already. However, this section is about my experiences with Ubuntu Linux together with the Sony PDA, which I made in April 2006. (I thought I'd give this "Linux and PDA" another try with Ubuntu "Breezy" 5.10... so here we go...)

To be honest, it seems I've started to like things which "just work". Since I couldn't get the Gnome-integration (launched via Evolution) to work, I gave jpilot a try, et voila, it "just works".

More precisely: What does work is the synchronisation of Calendar, Contacts, Todos and Notes -- in both directions.
What does not work is performing and restoring a backup, as when restoring the data, the PDA at some point always comes up with an error message and says that the process failed :(. This means, if an entire backup of the system is necessary, the only way I know is to use the Windows software that comes with the PDA -- or use the memory stick (but the latter does not keep all the settings in all the details).)

Anyway, here's how to get everyday-life-synchronisation to work:

Your system should happily sync the default applications with the desktop. (To perform a full backup of all applications, use "Sync your Palm to the Desktop and then do a Backup".)

1.3 Linux-Kernel: USB serial driver

In order to get the USB-based cradle to talk with standard Linux software, you'll need to include the USB serial driver in your kernel. Here is my kernel-config for Linux 2.4.20-xfs. ("usb-serial" is to be found in section USB support -- USB Serial Converter support. I included "USB Generic Serial Driver" and "USB Handspring Visor / Palm m50x / Sony Clie Driver".)
(Of course, first you should make sure USB in general is functioning properly with your Linux...)

Read /usr/src/linux/Documentation/usb/usb-serial.txt to get the driver running. Here's what I did (I'm not using devfs...):

  cd /dev/
  mknod /dev/ttyUSB0 c 188 0
  mknod /dev/ttyUSB1 c 188 1
  ln -ivs ttyUSB0 pilot

  addgroup pilot
  chgrp pilot /dev/ttyUSB*
  chmod 660 /dev/ttyUSB*
  adduser max pilot  [and re-login]

If you connect the PDA to the cradle and connect this to a USB-port, pressing the HotSync button should result in something similar to the following in /var/log/kern.log:

  [...] usbserial.c: Sony Clie 3.5 converter detected
  [...] usbserial.c: Sony Clie 3.5 converter now attached to ttyUSB0 (or usb/tts/0 for devfs)

Communication between the Clie and your computer is only possible if you initiate a HotSync at the cradle before trying anything else on the computer. So remember to always press the HotSync button before doing backups or other fine stuff.
(Read /usr/src/linux/Documentation/usb/usb-serial.txt for additional information on this.)

Problems I encountered:
It seems the connection can not always be established at the first try. Unfortunately, I don't know yet what's the reason for that...
/var/log/kern.log shows messages such as:

  [...] hub.c: new USB device 00:04.2-2.3, assigned address 8
  [...] usb-uhci.c: interrupt, status 2, frame# 1938
  [...] usb.c: USB device not accepting new address=8 (error=-110)
  [...] hub.c: new USB device 00:04.2-2.3, assigned address 9
  [...] usb.c: USB device not accepting new address=9 (error=-110)

Switching off the PDA and fiddling around a little bit solved this problem. Pressing the "sync" button then successfully initiated a connection afterwards.

1.4 Linux: The Software

There are lot's of Linux-and-PDA projects out there, for example (also available as Debian packages):

1.4.1 pilot-link

The pilot-link tools were really quite easy to get "working"... :)

In order to get a full backup of your PDA to the harddisk (or update an already existing one), do the following:

The tool assumes /dev/pilot to be the correct device. So if you didn't set up a link to /dev/ttyUSB0, you'll need to specify this device using the option -p /dev/ttyUSB0.
(Mind: As can be found in /usr/src/linux/Documentation/usb/usb-serial.txt, most PDA's use ttyUSB1. Nevertheless, the devices with OS version 3.5 use ttyUSB0.)

To install new packages or to restore deleted/lost data to the PDA:

1.4.2 jpilot

jpilot is a GUI based program which offers support for Datebook, Address Book, ToDo List and Memo Pad. As these definitely are the most important tools used with the PDA, jpilot covers nearly everything you need.

Remember to install the kernel module, create the device and press the "sync"-button to initiate a connection before using trying to sync with jpilot.

Just start jpilot and edit the File -- Preferences according to your wishes. I set the serial rate to 9600 (default) and of course /dev/pilot as the serial port. Everything seems to work fine.
The backups and the preferences are stored in ~/.jpilot/ ... what a surprise :).

In order to get a full backup of your PDA, just

Restoring your PDA should work by selecting File -- Restore Handheld.
Unfortunately I have similar / the same problems as described above with the pilot-link tools... :(

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last modified: 2010-02-23 15:42:22
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