Synchronising a Windows Mobile PDA under Linux
I had always thought I was the gadget freak in our family, but Kim is starting to put me to shame with her new PDA powered by Windows Mobile 6. Of course, this raised the natural question: “how do I sync this with my Linux netbook?” It is possible, and not that difficult, but the instructions found on the Internet are incomplete and, at times, confusing. So here is my complete guide to setting up a Windows Mobile PDA to Linux synchronisation!
Setting up the device:
Firstly (and sadly) a Windows PC is needed to enable ActiveSync on the device. I connected it to a Windows XP guest under VirtualBox and just set up a basic partnership.
Secondly, make sure that ActiveSync on the PDA is set up for USB connections. It is by default, but disconnect your device and check in the settings menu to make sure.
Thirdly, make sure that the checkbox in the Settings > Connections > USB applet is checked to enable the RNDIS method of synchronisation.
Setting up the drivers on Linux
This was where things started to get a little confusing. I decided to install synce to handle the communication between PDA and computer. So, firstly, I added the correct repository:
- Go to System > Administration > Software Sources
- Click on the Other Software tab (it may be Third Party Software depending on your distribution)
- Click Add and add the line:
deb http://ppa.launchpad.net/synce/ubuntu karmic main
(changing “karmic” to whatever Ubuntu distribution you have. My wife’s netbook is still running Karmic)
- After clicking Close the repository information automatically updated.
- If, like me, the public key for the repository reported an error, then note down the code for the key, open a terminal window and type:
sudo apt-key adv --keyserver subkeys.pgp.net --recv-keys KEYCODE
(changing KEYCODE for the code you wrote down)
- After this, I connected the PDA to the netbook, opened a terminal window and typed:
sudo apt-get install synce-hal librra-tools librapi2-tools
- After that was installed, I was supposed to be able to type synce-pls and get a listing of files on my device. Unfortunately it didn’t work that way. I had to type:
sudo modprobe rndis
- After the rndis driver loaded, I was then able to type synce-pls and get a directory listing from the PDA. The first taste of success!!
Setting up the GUI
Being able to perform a directory listing may have given me a small feeling of accomplishment, but it wouldn’t be enough to impress my wife! We need proper synchronisation between the PDA and computer using the GUI.
To set up file browsing in Nautilus, I installed the synce-trayicon. The correct order to install everything is:
sudo apt-get install synce-sync-engine synce-trayicon synce-gvfs
After installing this, I was able to browse files in Nautilus, and transfer files from the computer to the PDA. I also had a slick little icon next to the clock to launch everything.
Finally, I installed synchronisation between Evolution mail and the PDA:
sudo apt-get install multisync-tools opensync-plugin-synce opensync-plugin-evolution
Using the tray icon, and choosing Device Status, I could now add a partnership for the device and synchronise mail, contacts and notes between Evolution and the PDA!
To install programs it is necessary to download the .CAB file and copy it to the device, but everything else works just the same as regular ActiveSync.