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This document is written to help a new user set up a Palm Pilot in Evolution. It has been tested with my Zire 71, but should work with most Palm Pilot devices.

Additions for anyone using different devices are appreciated. I have put in what I think will work, but as I only have the one device I can't test anything other than that device.

Setting up Arch Linux

I am assuming that you have already installed Arch Linux, updated it, and have a 'working' Gnome system. If not, see the Excellent Beginners Guide

Installing Evolution

Arch's Gnome metapackage does not install evolution by default. If you haven't installed it, open a terminal, get into the super-user mode (type su) and type

pacman -S evolution

You can then run Evolution from the Applications/Office Gnome menu. When you start it for the first time, it will ask for your email settings using a "wizard". When this is complete the main Evolution display will appear.

Installing the Gnome packages

You now need to install the required Gnome component. Open a terminal and get into the super-user mode (type su) and type

pacman -S gnome-pilot gnome-pilot-conduits

Assuming you haven't done this previously, this will install three packages ; gnome-pilot, gnome-pilot-conduits and pilot-link

Setting up the Hardware

Now plug in your Palm Pilot link. There are basic ways of connecting the Palm Pilot to the computer

Serial Port

The older Palm Pilots (like my now broken Palm m100) connect using the serial ports on the back of the computer.

USB Port

The newer "low end" Palm Pilots (including my Zire 71) plug into the USB ports.

Wireless Networking

The newer and more expensive Palm Pilots have Wireless Networking and can communicate with your computer either using a USB Link or over a Wireless network, if you have one. These need to be set up on the Palms themselves.

Checking the Hardware

If you have a USB connection you can test it by typing


into a terminal, which lists all the devices connected to the ports. If your device is missing it may be one of those Palm Pilots (like the Zire 71) that only 'appears' on the system when it is actually transferring. In this case, press the transfer button on the cradle or "Hotsync" from the Palm Menus, type lsusb again, and you should get a display which resembles this.

[paulr@myhost aux]$ lsusb
Bus 002 Device 001: ID 0000:0000  
Bus 005 Device 001: ID 0000:0000  
Bus 003 Device 003: ID 055f:0006 Mustek Systems, Inc. ScanExpress 1200 UB
Bus 003 Device 002: ID 04e8:3242 Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd 
Bus 003 Device 001: ID 0000:0000  
Bus 004 Device 001: ID 0000:0000  
Bus 001 Device 005: ID 0830:0060 Palm, Inc. Palm Tungsten T / Zire 71
Bus 001 Device 004: ID 06d6:0025 Aashima Technology B.V. 
Bus 001 Device 001: ID 0000:0000  

Then cancel the Hotsync on the Palm.

If you have a Serial Zire, it should be possible to test it by putting the Palm into hotsync and typing

cat </dev/ttyS0

which should display reams of gobbledegook.

Setting up Synchronisation

The next part involves setting up Evolution so it knows how to communicate with the Palm Pilot. Start evolution from the menu (Application/Internet) and choose Edit/Synchronisation Options from Evolution's menu. This should bring up the Gnome-Pilot settings dialog. Click the forward button.

  • Leave the name unchanged
  • Set the 'type' to Serial (plugs into the Serial Port), USB (plugs into USB port) or Network (wireless network connection)
  • Increase the timeout to '8'. I have in the past found this helps with difficult transfers.
  • Set the device to /dev/ttyUSB1 (USB connection) or /dev/ttyS0 (Serial connection)
  • Leave the speed unchanged

Click on 'Forward'. There are now two options, dependent on whether the Palm has been 'synced' before. If you have synced it, it will get the information from the Palm, if not, it will set it. Choose the appropriate entry and click forward, then enter your name (if needed) and press the Hotsync button on the Palm.

You should now have set up the initial synchronisation. Clicking forward brings up a dialog allowing you to select a working directory to store PDA information in. Clicking Forward then Apply brings up the Settings dialogue.

Setting up Conduits

Click on the Conduits tab.

Conduits are the parts of the system that transfer information between various parts of Evolution or Arch and the Palm Pilot. Enable those that are appropriate for your machine. For almost all Palms this will usually include :-

  • Backup : Backup the contents of your Palm
  • EAddress : Synchronise the Address book
  • ECalendar : Synchronise the Calendar
  • EMemos : Synchronise Memos
  • EToDo : Synchronise To Dos
  • MemoFile : Synchronise Memos
  • Time : Set the Palm Time from the Computer Clock

When you have done this click on "Close".


Press the Hotsync button. You should be able to watch the transfer of data on the Palm display.

Warning: Sometimes it requires two initial hotsyncs to set up the Contacts in evolution, sometimes it only needs one. I have no idea why.

Gnome Pilot Applet

If you wish you can have an Applet on the menu bar which allows you to synchronise data without opening Evolution first. To do this, right click the menu bar, select Add to Panel, scroll down to Pilot Applet and select it, click 'Add' and then 'Close'. A little black circle with an arrow on it should appear. Move it to where you want it.

Now Hotsyncing will give a progress dialog.