This page will explain how to sync Palm OS handhelds with Ubuntu.


There are several popular programs which can be used to connect your Palm device with Linux. This document will cover the most common programs and connection methods.


This guide will eventually cover all standard USB Cradle/cable setups for getting Palm devices working with Ubuntu.



Notes for Releases

Ubuntu 10.04 (Lucid Lynx) through Ubuntu 7.10 (Fiesty Fawn)

Ubuntu 7.04 (Feisty)

Ubuntu 6.10 (Edgy Eft)
Ubuntu 6.06 (Dapper Drake)
Ubuntu 5.10 (Breezy Badger)


Gnome-pilot is the default Palm synchronization software of Gnome. It can be installed from the repositories, look for gnome-pilot and gnome-pilot-conduits.

Three programs (commands) are part of this:

- gpilotd: Daemon that does the synchronization.
- gpilot-applet: Applet for the Gnome panel. Allow synchronizing from the Palm's hot sync button.
- gpilotd-control-applet: GUI for setup the options.

The first step is to add the applet to the Gnome panel. To do this right click somewhere on a free space in the panel and choose Add to Panel, then under the Utilities category choose Pilot Applet. After installation the applet a new icon appear in the panel. This icon allow automatic synchronizing the Palm just by pressing the hotsync button in the Palm. And by doing a this icon the program Pilot Settings pop up. This applet is the equivalent to the Hotsync icon in Windows.

The second step is to configure the synchronization options. Open this by doing a click on the applet or by selecting System -> Preferences -> PalmOS Devices in the Ubuntu menu. A message appears “You seem to be running Gnome-Pilot for the first time ... “, press «Forward» and then choose your options.

The connection should work fine. If not try this:
1) Verify that the cable are well plugged, or the infrared is working in both devices. By the end of 2006 Bluetooth isn't supported yet as gnome-pilot does not include it.
2) Try each speed of connection. Adjust the value in both Ubuntu and the Palm.
3) Go to PalmDeviceSetup for setup for Fiesty Fawn through Lucid Lynx (or if running with Dapper era Ubuntu try PalmSyncDapper).

Answer if the device was previously synchronized or not, then forward. Once identified the user press «forward». Fill in the boxes for the pilot name and local base dir. Pilot name is just a name for identify a device among others.

Final step is configure the conduits. Conduits are the instructions to synchronize an application in Gnome with an application in the Palm. Unfortunately, there is only a couple of conduits for Gnome-pilot. There are conduits for synchronize contacts, calendars, memos, and tasks between Evolution and the corresponding Palm applications (See further for details).

There is a useful conduit for backup your Palm programs and database. There is a bug in this conduit for Ubuntu versions prior to 7.04 (Feisty Fawn) that resets the Palm; to solve it:

sudo edit ~/.gnome2/gnome-pilot.d/backup-conduit

then add WiFiCoreLib to exclude_files as follows:


Other conduits are available but are not mention here.

Dapper and USB Sync

Getting USB sync working in Dapper can be difficult due to the way the kernel handles USB connections. See PalmSyncDapper for more information. It seems that it works better in Ubuntu 6.10 (Edgy Eft), however sometimes it doesn't work consistently.

Evolution and Gnome-pilot

Here is an explanation of what modules work with Evolution and Gnome-pilot. Every module can by configured to import, export, o synchronize. Use System -> Preferences -> PalmOS Devices or click on the Gnome-pilot applet (See Gnome-pilot instructions).

- Mail: not available yet (originally marked January 2007 but still the case June 2010). A workaround could be synchronize Evolution with your mail account in Ubuntu and synchronize the mail client of the palm in Windows. Another solution may be use a Yahoo! mail account in Ubuntu and synchronize the palm and Yahoo using Yahoo's Intellisync in Windows.

- Contacts: Works well, but be aware that some fields are not received by the Palm. For a clean synchronization delete AddressDB and ContactsDB-PAdd in your Palm (just in case do a previous backup), you can use FileZ for free to do this.

- Calendar: Works well.

- Memos: Works well.

- Tasks: Works well.

More help can be found at Evolution User guide in Evolution (Menu Help -> Contents or by pressing F1 in the keyboard). Go to Synchronizing Your Handheld Device. Skip Enabling Synchronization because this part was explained here with more detail (Gnome-pilot), and jump to Selecting Conduits.

If your device fails to sync with an error message relating to the 'visor' module, see PalmDevicSetup for more instructions.

VMWare Workstation and Windows XP

You can run the Palm Desktop software under VMWare and use the Palm HotSync Manager. USB syncing can be elusive to get working. Under VMWare Workstation 5.5.4 you may have to add

usb.generic.skipSetConfig = "TRUE"

to your .vmx file. You may have to unload the visor kernal module prior to starting your vitual machine using, for example,

sudo modprobe -r visor

Under Ubuntu 7.04 (Fiesty Fawn), you may have to mount usbfs using, for example,

mount -t usbfs usbfs /proc/bus/usb

or by adding the line

/proc/bus/usb /proc/bus/usb/ usbfs none 0 0

to your /etc/fstab file.


To verify that the palm has been detected after plugged and turned on type in a terminal:

gedit /var/log/messages

and check the last lines.

To take a look of the running processes type:

ps -A

To kill a process type:

kill ###

where ### is the number of the process.

An alternative way to move/copy files into the Palm is to move/copy the files to a memory card (SD, MS, ...) first using a card reader and Nautilus, then insert the card in the palm's slot and transfer it using a program like Filez FileZ.


PortableDevices/PalmOS (last edited 2010-06-24 19:24:50 by nuboon2age)