Much ado about scripting, Linux & Eclipse: card subject to change


Blackberry Linux Calendar & Contact Sync

Ugh, what a nightmare. Skip to solution. See also Part 2.

PocketMac for Blackberry, Linux Edition

Unfortunately, I missed the deadline to be a beta tester for this new app. Comes highly recommended by a Macolyte friend of mine; unfortunately until it's released I won't be able to come anywhere near it. :(

Blackberry Desktop Manager in VirtualBox

First, I tried to install Blackberry Desktop Manager into a VirtualBox 2.1 Win XP Home guest OS, running on xubuntu 8.04. Problem there was that OOTB the VB guest couldn't see my USB devices (ie., the mounted Blackberry). Solved [1], [2].

Unfortunately, while the Windows guest could see the Blackberry, it couldn't sync with it. I keep getting prompted for my password to enter "mass storage mode", then ultimately the backup failed, as the connection was dropped midway through.

Hoping that the story would be better on my newer x200 Thinkpad, I tried again -- same result. Additionally, though the VirtualBox Windows guest found my bluetooth adapter, I couldn't make it work under Windows to connect to the BB.


I tried installing barry, the Blackberry Desktop For Linux project. I installed 0.14-4.fc10 and 0.14-6.fc11, but it didn't work - perhaps the Bold is too new?

(-1, error sending control message: Operation
not permitted): Probe: GetConfiguration failed

So, for now, the only way to backup/restore is via my wife's WinXP laptop.

UPDATE, 2009/01/05: Turns out you have to run barry w/ root privileges. I can now backup on linux. W00t!

But surely there's another way to sync?


Next, I tried OpenSync. This didn't work either. I tried 0.22 on xubuntu 8.04, with KitchenSync 0.1, but it couldn't connect to the device. Then I tried 0.36 on the x200 Fedora 10 box with msynctool, but it too couldn't connect to the device (even though I'd already paired the BB with the Thinkpad over bluetooth), perhaps because my settings were incorrect? Either way, both front ends left a lot to be desired for a total noob user. XML config files are fine, but better in-file documentation would be nice.
msynctool --listplugins
msynctool --addgroup BB
msynctool --enable-objtype BB syncml-obex-client
msynctool --addmember BB syncml-obex-client
msynctool --enable-objtype BB google-calendar
msynctool --addmember BB google-calendar
msynctool --enable-objtype BB file-sync
msynctool --addmember BB file-sync
msynctool --showgroup BB
msynctool --configure BB 1
msynctool --configure BB 2
msynctool --configure BB 3
msynctool --sync BB

... still failed to connect to device :(


Then I discovered the Funambol web-based sync option, and signed up. This worked, and I now have my contacts and BB calendar synched with their server. OK, that's great, but what I really wanted was to sync w/ my desktop apps and/or with Google Calendar. So, I tried the Funambol Mozilla Plugin 0.8 for synching contacts and calendar with Sunbird 0.9 (or Thunderbird 2.0 with Lightning 0.9). It worked on my home xubuntu 8.04 machine (one email address, no calendars) but failed to install on my work Fedora 10 machine (two email addresses, two calendars, RSS feeds & newgroup subscriptions). Bummer.

UPDATE, 2009/01/05: My Thunderbird profile had been corrupted. Creating a new one, importing from the old one, and reinstalling all extensions fixed this problem. But because I can use Google Sync for Contacts and Calendar, I'm only using Funambol for Tasks now. Details here.

Google Sync

Finally, checking my Google Calendar online I noticed a new "Sync" link in the top right. I found that Google has released an early Xmas present: Google Sync for your BlackBerry. Finally, a solution!


If you would like to have a snapshot of your mail, calendar, tasks, calls and optionally, battery status & weather in one convenient portal page, try BBToday 1.6.

Captured with CaptureIt

UPDATE, 2009/01/29: I've found a better Today screen, but it's not free. BOLD CrossBar Plus Xtreme - BOLD OS 4.6 by JC Designs / Gadgetbean. Combine this with WeatherEye from The Weather Network, and you've got weather, mail, messages, calendar... all on one attractive screen! Best. Seven Bucks. Ever.

Continued in Part 2...