As previously mentioned I recently bought myself a Palm TX PDA. One of the important factors for me when choosing this PDA was the ability to HotSync to my Linux desktop and/or laptop. Using the gpilotd daemon and the GNOME Pilot Applet this is pretty easy.
I have a wireless access point at home and therefore thought it would be nice to HotSync the Palm to my desktop over WiFi, rather than plug in a cable. The process of HotSyncing over wireless is pleasantly simple. My desktop has a fixed IP address (which is dished out by a DHCP server, but it always gets this address because the DHCP server knows the desktop MAC address). The Palm can be configured to obtain an IP address via DHCP or it can be given a static IP. I read the MAC address of the label on the back of my Palm and fed it to my DHCP server so that it would dish out a static IP to the PDA when it appears on the wireless LAN.
I started the GNOME pilot applet by adding it to the panel.
A single click reveals the GNOME pilot-settings wizard..
..where I can configure some settings like how I want the PDA to connect..
..over serial or WiFi for example.
Finally I enabled the Backup conduit.
One last thing is required for the Palm TX. Currently if you sync to Linux the gpilotd applet crashes part way through the process. To fix this I edited ~/.gnome2/gnome-pilot.d/backup-conduit and added WiFiCoreLib to the empty list of excluded files.
[Pilot_1000] backup_dir=/home/alan/MyPDA updated_only=true remove_deleted=false no_of_backups=7 exclude_files=WiFiCoreLib
Starting the HotSync is simply a case of tapping the HotSync icon on he PDA. After telling it to connect over WiFi, and choosing my access point, everything synced up, and I now have a backup of my PDA on my desktop. There are of course further conduits I could enable which allow syncing of tasks, datebook entries and memos to Evolution – the GNOME PIM, but for now, this is good enough.
It then struck me that I might want to sync over wireless to my laptop. I also pondered what I would do if I was away from an access point and my PDA battery was dying. There’s the potential for data loss, and no access point would make connecting difficult I thought, but it turns out not to be the case. GNOME has the lovely NetworkManager application which makes setting up a simple wireless LAN very easy.
So here I am on the train and will give this a go as a test.
1. Single click Network Manager applet on the panel, choose Create New Wireless Network
2. In the Create New Wireless Network dialog, give the network a name and choose the level of security (I chose “multivac” as the network name (it’s the host name of this PC), and security “none” where the options include WEP and WPA.
3. Click connect in the Create New Wireless Network Dialog.
4. Wait for the little swooshing blue thing and the green dots to do their thing on the gnome panel.
5. Right click the Network Manager applet and select Connection Information to find out the IP address that has been allocated. 169.254.92.97 is the laptop IP.
6. On the Palm Click the WiFi icon at the bottom of the screen then choose Scan / Setup. The scan reveals an Ad-Hoc network called multivac, click connect, if it doesn’t work first time then follow this procedure:-
a) Click the WiFi icon
b) Click Scan / Setup
c) Click Scan
d) Select the Ad-Hoc network you created
e) Choose Edit –> Configure
f) Set the correct network name and security options, click Details
g) Ensure Connect to: says Peer-to-Peer (ad-hoc). To discover the correct WiFi channel, use this procedure:-
i) On the PC, open a terminal and type ifconfig to show the name of the device
alan@multivac:~$ iwconfig lo no wireless extensions. eth1 IEEE 802.11b ESSID:"multivac" Nickname:"ipw2100" Mode:Ad-Hoc Frequency:2.412 GHz Cell: 02:04:23:1E:5D:AA Bit Rate=0 kb/s Tx-Power:16 dBm Retry min limit:7 RTS thr:off Fragment thr:off Power Management:off Link Quality=0/100 Signal level=-98 dBm Rx invalid nwid:0 Rx invalid crypt:0 Rx invalid frag:0 Tx excessive retries:0 Invalid misc:0 Missed beacon:0 eth0 no wireless extensions. sit0 no wireless extensions.
ii) Note the Frequency here is 2.412 GHz and then type iwlist eth1 frequency to find the channel number:-
alan@multivac:~$ iwlist eth1 frequency eth1 14 channels in total; available frequencies : Channel 01 : 2.412 GHz Channel 02 : 2.417 GHz Channel 03 : 2.422 GHz Channel 04 : 2.427 GHz Channel 05 : 2.432 GHz Channel 06 : 2.437 GHz Channel 07 : 2.442 GHz Channel 08 : 2.447 GHz Channel 09 : 2.452 GHz Channel 10 : 2.457 GHz Channel 11 : 2.462 GHz Channel 12 : 2.467 GHz Channel 13 : 2.472 GHz Channel 14 : 2.484 GHz Current Channel=1
h) Back on the palm choose the channel number listed in iwlist
i) Click Advanced then give the PDA an IP address close (but not the same as) the one the PC has, and a netmask which is the same. I chose 169.254.92.196 and 255.255.0.0 because my PC (see steps above) is 18.104.22.168.
j) Click Ok, Ok, Ok, then when asked “Would you like to connect to ‘multivac’ now?” click Yes.
k) Finally go to HotSync app click Network and underneath the HotSync Icon choose the dropdown and select “Select PC”
l) Click Next in the Network HotSync Setup wizard thing, let it search (it likely won’t find the laptop), then click Other…
m) Type in the IP address of the laptop (169.254.92.167) then click Next.
Finally, click the HotSync Icon. It should start syncing.
Of course that looks like a lot of steps, but it really takes an expert about a minute to setup, a novice maybe five minutes. Once it’s all setup you can quickly switch to this configuration when you really need to. When the battery on your PDA is dying you don’t want to be faffing around with network config screens, that’s for sure.