Sony Clie & Linux (Fedora and Red Hat Enterprise Linux)

I’ve been having fun with my Sony Clié. Unfortunately, I could not connect to Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) using pilot-xfer via USB. I kept getting “no suitable driver” error.

Determined to sync my new Clié, when I got home, I booted up my crusty Windows XP partition. Installed the Sony Clié software. I did a Hotsync, and installed two trial games. Worked great. Say what you will about Windows, it definitely has a leg up on Linux.

Now that I’ve successfully synced my PDA, I decided to boot Fedora Core 2 to try my luck. Hopefully, I fair better than I did with RHEL 3.


I tried using gnome-pilot, filled in /dev/pilot as the port, and click on USB. I then click the Forward button, and chose “Yes, I’ve used sync software with this pilot before.”, and clicked Forward again. I pressed the Hotsync button on my PDA, and gnome-pilot sits there. No activity. I waited until the Sony timed out.

So I remember reading somewhere that if gnome-pilot doesn’t work use pilot-xfer.

As me (not root), I try

pilot-xfer -l

. Hmm. so /dev/pilot doesn’t exist. I remember that I didn’t run /sbin/modprobe (from my experience with RHEL). So I su to root, run

/sbin/modprobe visor

Then I look at /var/log/messages and notice the following message:

May 25 22:48:38 firebird kernel: usb 1-2: Handspring Visor /
Palm OS converter now attached to ttyUSB0
(or usb/tts/0 for devfs)

Lightbulb! Ok I run

pilot-xfer -p /dev/ttyUSB0 -l

as me again. Tells me I need to chmod 0666 /dev/ttyUSB0. ARGH! I become root and do as stated. Now as me again, I re-run pilot-xfer. BINGO! Success! I get back the list of items on my Sony Clié. So I take it a step further,

pilot-xfer -p /dev/ttyUSB0 -backup /home/jmrodri/palm

and I have 75 file files (.prc & .pdb). Now we’re rockin’ and rollin’.


WHEW! That was tiring. Ok let’s see if we can get gnome-pilot to work now that we know to use /dev/ttyUSB0. And again, it sits there. So I’m going to guess that gnome-pilot sucks 🙂 At least pilot-xfer works. I’ll keep toying around with it until I’m satisfied.

In general Linux has potential, but it is still years behind Windows in usability. The fact that I had to deal with the /dev file system (which a normal user should not have to worry about) and use a command line application to sync my PDA, is beyond a regular desktop user. Hopefully, Red Hat Desktop has the ability to sync with PDAs, and other consumer (and business) devices, if it hopes to unseat Windows in the enterprise.

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2 thoughts on “Sony Clie & Linux (Fedora and Red Hat Enterprise Linux)

  1. Nice writeup!
    I found your link because I was googling ‘clie fedora’…Guess what my problem is…
    Everytime I try an other distro, I hit the same useability wall.. and go back to win for a few months, until things start to ‘itch’. Then I download a new distro, try it out, and beng hit the wall again. Oh well. Perhaps Linux will get there sometime

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