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3. The pilot-link suite

The pilot-link suite provides the tools for communicating with your PDA. The pilot-link programs provide the background functionality for many higher level programs, but can also be used on their own as command line tools.

Most distributions come with the pilot-link suite available as an optional package. The package will be available on the installation media or from the ftp site of the distribution. Install the package in the usual way for your distribution. You may also need development versions of the packages if you wish to compile any software that uses pilot-link.

Note: Unless otherwise specified, the details below refer to the 0.9.x release of pilot-link. The version in development is 0.10.x. This version contains support for USB devices, and has been updated to ensure greater consistency between the various utilities. Once 0.10.x is officially released, this document will be updated for the new version.

If you upgrade to 0.10.x, you will also need to update applications which use pilot-link. In particular, J-Pilot and gnome-pilot need modifications to work with 0.10.x. J-Pilot 0.99.2 should work with the latest version of pilot-link.

3.1. Installing the pilot-link software

The pilot-link suite comes with most major Linux distributions, including RedHat, Mandrake, SUSE and Debian. If you intend to compile applications which rely on pilot-link, you may need to install development packages as well.

If you use a distribution that does not come with pilot-link, or you need a more recent version, you can find the latest release at www.pilot-link.org. As well as the current version, you will find a link to the latest CVS snapshot.

Once you have the downloaded the source, unpack and compile it as follows:

tar -zxvf pilot-link.0.9.5.tar.gz cd pilot-link.0.9.5
./configure
make
make install

The programs can be run directly from the directory in which they were compiled. You may wish to test them before running make install. For more information, see the README file that comes with pilot-link.

3.2. Using the pilot-link software

Most of the programs in the pilot-link suite are conduits, that is they transfer data into or out of your Palm OS device.

Each time you use of one of the programs, press the HotSync button on your PDA's cradle. This will initiate the PDA side of the data transfer. Note that not all of these programs prompt you to press the `HotSync' button, so you may have to remember to do it yourself.

For more details, view the corresponding manual page. There is an overview manual page under the name pilot-link.

The pilot-link programs all use the same method of determining the location of your PDA:

  • If a device is specified on the command line, that device will be used regardless of the other settings.

  • If the environment variable $PILOTPORT is set, that will be used unless a port is specified on the command line.

  • If no port is specified on the command line, and the $PILOTPORT variable is not set, /dev/pilot will be used.

3.2.1. pilot-xfer

Possibly the most useful program in the pilot-link suite, pilot-xfer allows you to install programs on your Palm OS device, make a backup, and restore that backup.

To install a program:

pilot-xfer /dev/pilot -i program.prc

To backup your Palm OS device:

pilot-xfer /dev/pilot -b backup-directory

This will copy all of the databases on your Palm OS device, (including programs?) to a directory called ``backup-directory'', creating it if it does not already exist.

To restore data to Palm OS device:

pilot-xfer /dev/pilot -r backup-directory

Generally, you will only need to do this if your Palm OS device loses power or if you have to do a hard reset.

To list the programs on your Palm OS device:

pilot-xfer /dev/pilot -l

3.2.2. install-memo

To install a memo into your (already existing) project category:

install-memo /dev/pilot -c project project.memo

The name of the file will be inserted into the memo as its first line and will appear in the directory of memos on your Palm OS device.

3.2.4. pilot-addresses

Transfer the address database to or from your PDA.

To write your address data to a Linux file from your PDA:

pilot-addresses /dev/pilot -w storage.file

To read your address data from a Linux file onto your PDA:

pilot-addresses /dev/pilot -r file