Palm Centro hotsync via Bluetooth on Ubuntu 8.10 (Intrepid Ibex)

November 2, 2008

I worked all this out with a lot of help from the tutorial on – changing things to suit the Centro’s slightly different interface, and putting in Ubuntu 8.10 specific stuff.

Make your PC visible

Go to System->Preferences->Bluetooth, choose “Temporary visible” and set the slider to 30 minutes. This should give you enough time to pair it with the Centro – if not, you can always set it again. If you aren’t worried about security, you can set it to “Always visible”. Leave this window open – we’ll use it soon.

Set up Bluetooth on the Centro

First, ensure that bluetooth is enabled by going to Prefs->Bluetooth. Make sure that you have set a device name, and set visibility to “Visible” (you might want to set it back to “Hidden” when we’re finished with the setup). Screenshots (although out of date) can be found at if you need help.

Second, pair the Centro with your PC. From Prefs->Bluetooth, tap on “Setup Devices”, “Trusted Devices” and then “Add Device”. Make sure that “Nearby devices” is selected from the drop-down list, and select the PC from the list. Tap “OK”. Now you need to switch back to the Bluetooth screen on the PC, and click on the “+” sign.  Click “Forward”. The Centro should appear in the list – click on it and then click “Forward” again. A PIN code will be shown on the PC screen – type this code into the dialog box that appears on the Centro. The two devices are now paired. Tap “Done” three times to get back to the Prefs menu.

You now need to add a Connection profile on the Centro. Go to Prefs->Connections and add a new connection. Give it a sensible name (e.g. “BT To Linux”), choose “Connect to PC”, “Via Bluetooth”, and then tap on “tap to find”. Choose your PC from the list, then tap “OK” twice to save the connection.

Next you need to add a Network profile on the Centro to use this connection. Go to Prefs->Network, and choose “New” from the drop-down menu. Give the profile a name (e.g. “Linux”) and choose your new connection from the list. Leave the username and password blank.

Finally, open HotSync program, and select Options > Modem Sync Prefs > Network in order to be able to select the newly-made network connection. (Thanks very much for David and LF pointing this out in the comments!).

Re-open the network connection screen (Prefs -> Network), choose the new Service that you just created, and switch back to the PC for the next part of the configuration.

Set up dial-up networking on the PC

This method uses dund, which is a part of bluez that is apparently deprecated. I tried really hard to find an alternative, but I couldn’t – if anyone knows about it, leave a comment! So you need to install the bluez-compat package:

sudo aptitude install bluez-compat

create a new file /etc/ppp/peers/dun:

ms-dns <enter your dns server address here>

Test connection

Start up dund temporarily on the PC (as root):

dund --nodetach --listen --persist --msdun call dun

Now click “connect” on the Network profile screen on the Centro. You should see many lines of output on the PC, followed by the “Connect” button changing to “Disconnect” on the Centro. If so, you have connected successfully! At this point, add the following line to /etc/rc.local so it will start on reboot:

dund --listen --persist --msdun call dun

Set up Hotsync

On the Centro, go to HotSync. Select “Modem” (rather than “Local”) in the middle of the screen. Choose “Linux” from the list below the HotSync icon. Next choose “Primary PC Setup…” from the menu. Put the IP address of the PC (in my case into the “Primary PC Address” field, and leave the other fields blank. Tap “OK”, and choose “LANSync Prefs…” from the menu. Make sure that “LANSync” is enabled, rather than “Local HotSync”.

Now to test the connection, issue the following commands on the PC:

sudo aptitude install pilot-link
pilot-xfer -p net:any -l

Tap the hotsync icon on the Centro. If the connection works, you should see a list of your Centro’s files appear in your PC’s terminal window! You can now sync over bluetooth by setting the serial port to “net:any” in the pilot sync tool of your choice – I use jpilot.

Internet sharing?

Supposedly it is possible to share your internet connection from the PC to the Centro by running this command as root:

echo 1 > /proc/sys/net/ipv4/ip_forward

It didn’t work for me though – perhaps AT&T have locked down Blazer on the Centro so that it only works through MEdia Net?


10 Responses to “Palm Centro hotsync via Bluetooth on Ubuntu 8.10 (Intrepid Ibex)”

  1. Danilo said

    Try something for internet sharing:

    iptables -t nat -A POSTROUTING -o eth0 -j MASQUERADE

    as root. ETH0 should be the interface you are connected to the internet (you could use wlan0, eth1 or something else, depending on your case).

    Anyway, thank you very much for the hints! You helped me a lot!

  2. orluke said

    Amazing. Thanks so much. These instructions helped me circumvent USB. I couldn’t get jpilot to sync via the cradle/cable. All I wanted to do was to copy my photos from my Centro to my Ubuntu box using Pics&Videos Plugin for JPilot. see

    This worked!

  3. David said

    Thank you! I’ve been hunting for ages for instructions on how to do this. One note: In the HotSync program, you need to select Options > Modem Sync Prefs > Network in order to be able to select the newly-made network connection. Otherwise it’ll ask for a phone number.

  4. James said

    my wife has a centro and I have a treo. I changed the line in the dun from
    and put a different ip for each phone in prefs->network->”Linux”->details->advanced->IP address
    I use jpilot with jppy and other plug-ins… works well

  5. LF said

    Thanks for the nice HOWTO! Very helpful.

    In case anyone is curious, it works great with evolution on Ubuntu 8.10.

    David’s comment is correct, you need to change that modem setting to get anything to work. I spend about half an hour messing around til I figured it out! It seems obvious now, but all the services, connections etc can be a bit daunting. Ended up going here to figure it out:

    Might be nice to update the HOWTO with that note.

    Anyway, thanks again. Keep up the good work!


  6. Linda said

    Hi LF, thanks for the encouragement! I’ve updated the post to include David’s comment (thanks David!). One of these days I’ll do some more blogging, I’m afraid I seldom get round to it but it’s nice that the few posts I’ve written appear to have helped people out.


  7. Leonard said


  8. John said

    Great howto, but one thing that led me to a lot of frustration was making sure to configure the firewall to allow the network to happen or the sync would not work.

    I am using OpenSuse 11.2 and I had to add the ppp0 interface to my Internal Zone interfaces.

    Works like a charm, and I think it is even faster than the usb cable approach.

  9. Carlos Paiva said

    Kind of really works, but much simpler way to get sync to work via Bluetooth is to set port to bt:.
    Anaway thanks for the hints, very usefull for sharing pc internet connection

  10. SpmP said

    I hope this helps someone who is using a later version of GNU/Linux. (At the time of writing… )
    In Ubuntu Natty there is a change that needs to be made to /etc/bluetooth/main.conf such that bluetooth does not try and spawn the wrong process.
    Basically add pnat to the list of DisabledPlugins.
    Then proceed as normal.
    Just to clarify, the i.p addresses in /etc/ppp/peers/dun are:
    Another tip that helped was setting the host ip in the sync settings somewhere.. In primary PC setup. set the Primary PC address to
    all good. THanks

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