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No more Palm sync on on OS X? Try Ubuntu!

Michael Brown   September 22 2009 06:48:50 AM
This evening I tried to sync my partner's old Palm T/X to my Macbook Pro and got a bit of a shock: Apple has dropped support for the older Palm devices in Snow Leopard.  You can't sync them any more; not without resorting to some 3rd party, commercial software anway.

For a moment, I thought I was going to have to dig out the Palm install disk and go through the horror of Windows again.  I have a Windows Bootcamp partition on the Macbook and another one on my main Ubuntu desktop.  But then I thought that surely Ubuntu must have something that will do it.  And indeed it does: enter J-Pilot!


J-Pilot is a full Palm Desktop replacement for Linux.  I say "replacement", although I don't think there was ever an official release of the Palm Desktop for Linux; not for old devices like the T/X anyway.

Jpilot for Linux

It's open source and, of course, completely free.

Installation and Setup

J-Pilot is in the Ubuntu repositories.  You can install via the Synaptic tool or by opening a terminal and typing:

sudo apt-get install jpilot

There's a catch though: there's another Palm sync tool, called Gnome-Pilot (or Gpilot) already installed in Ubuntu.  This tool syncs with Evolution, but I couldn't get it to work and I've never much cared for Evolution anyway.  If you want to use J-Pilot, you'll need to uninstall Gpilot first, otherwise the latter will capture all of your attempted Palm syncs.  You can remove Gpilot via Synaptic or by opening a terminal and typing:

sudo apt-get remove gnome-pilot

J-Pilot will install itself to Ubuntu's "Office" menu.

Before syncing, you'll need to tell J-Pilot which port to use.  Open up File->Preferences and the Settings tab on the resulting dialog.  Assuming your're syncing via USB, switch the Serial Port drop-down to say "usb:" and Ok out of the dialog.


Once you've configured your port, it's a simple matter of clicking the sync button on the main J-Pilot screen and then tapping the corresponding button on the Palm device itself.
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