Sunday, 10 August 2008

Synching a Dell Axim X30 with Ubuntu

I have an old (?) Dell Axim X30 PDA that I use mainly as an address book and MP3 player (I added a memory card so I can listen to podcasts while walking the dog). Now that Ubuntu is my primary desktop OS, I wanted to be synching contacts and sound files with Ubuntu.

The SynCE project has done this. The documentation is pretty good, but as usual I managed to make it hard for myself. Here's what I did:
  1. Make sure the X30 is not plugged in to the computer
  2. sudo apt-get install synce-hal librra0-tools librapi2-tools
  3. Plug in the device
  4. synce-pls
The last line should show what's in the top-level directory of the X30.

Note that I was already running kernel 2.6.24-19, so I didn't have to rebuild the modules as described in the documentation. If your Ubuntu 8.04 is up-to-date, you'll be running at least this kernel.

My problem: All the installation instructions warn you to blacklist the ipaq module if you have connection problems. So I went ahead and blacklisted it before I even started. Then I fumbled around for a few hours trying to connect unsuccessfully and searching for information.

The X30 only supports Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition. I don't know all the technical details, but I know it means it used a somewhat different protocol for connecting. In my search for answers, I found enough examples of people successfully connecting to X30s that I kept going. I also found enough references to the "old protocol" or "serial protocol" that I finally realized I should try allowing the ipaq module. I removed the blacklist and, presto, it worked.

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