Saturday, December 5, 2009

Palm and Bluetooth

Having purchased a bluetooth dongle for next to nothing, I wanted to put it to good use. The thought was to use bluetooth to connect to my Palm Tungsten E2 PDA with Ubuntu Karmic, however it all got more difficult than I'd thought.

A quick howto on avoiding the problems:

Firstly the Palm has to have bluetooth enabled, and be made discoverable. A little bluetooth icon conveniently appears up next to the batttery level indicator to show that all is well.

Now over to the computer; plug in the bluetooth dongle and start up the 'bluetooth-applet' from the command line. With the Palm in range, it's possible to discover the device and 'pair' it to the Ubuntu desktop. The bluetooth applet will show a code number on the screen ask you to type the number into the Palm to confirm that you 'own' both machines.

Using the bluetooth-applet you can now add files to the Palm. Interestingly the one file that I tried by this method got corrupted. Perhaps I was unlucky. I haven't tried this method since.

So far, so good, but this was were it all went wrong for me. I wanted to hotsynsc the Palm. To do this I installed J-Pilot which has a nice graphical interface. Pilot-Link which is command line looks good too.

Nothing would make J-Pilot hotsync with the Palm. I constantly got error messages on the Palm about the serial port being in use by another application. Using Google Fu, I found articles that should said change the port in J-Pilot to 'net:any', add entries to /etc/bluetooth/rfcomm.conf, or even enable ip forwarding, setup PPP and iptables!

Like most things, the answer is real simple: The developers have kindly changed the port definitions. Maybe it's been communicated somewhere, or written on stone tablets in the source code, but I had a helluva time finding out this useful piece of information.

In J-Pilot (or Pilot-Link, etc), change the port setting to 'bt:'. Then it just works.

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