Connecting a Palm Pilot to FreeBSD


This document outlines the procedures performed to connect a Palm V organiser to a FreeBSD machine for both Hot Sync'ing and psuedo dial-in connectivity using...
  • pppd
  • User-PPP (todo)
  • SLIP (todo)


Initially, I decided to setup the FreeBSD machine to support HotSync only, so that I could get the organiser in use as soon as possible. The pilot-link package available from the FreeBSD ports collection (And also here) makes this incredibly easy! After a swift make install it worked straight away! Full install/backup and network HotSyncing (the ability to sync the palm with the Palm Desktop software on my Windows machine, even though the hotsync cradle is connected to the unix machine.

After reading that the HotSync cradle can also act as a null modem cable, I decided to try and get a true `dial-in` style connection to the unix box. After a quick attempt using User-PPP and then SLIP, I decided upon pppd after stumbling across a site on the Palm webring that supplied the info needed on how connect up using it. I'm unsure whether User-PPP can work at the moment. I have performed several tests with getty and User-PPP but have yet to get a connect working.


As the Site on the Webring shows, the command line to pppd is:

/usr/sbin/pppd /dev/pilot 19200 nodetach crtscts local passive nedlnet:devastator proxyarp ms-dns

I won't go into the pppd command details, the man pages do a better job than I, but from the above, nedlnet is the freebsd server where the cradle is plugged into, devastator is the Palm, and is nedlnet's ip. Note that this command should be entered on one line only (incase its been wrapped by your browser)

Unfortunatly, when the connection dies after the pilot has "hung up", pppd will quit. The persist flag keeps the interface up, but to my dismay, I realised that the serial port was in effect locked. Hotsync would then fail to work as it couldn't get use of the serial interface. To combat this, I have created a set of shell scripts that will take the pppd link up and down on demand to allow both hotsyncs and pilot dialup connections. These scripts can be found here

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Back to Top Page last modified: Thu Mar 1 19:08:23 GMT 2001