PalmPilot and OS/2
    This site is a guide to using a Palm OS device -- including 3COM's Palm series, IBM WorkPads, Handspring Visors and TRG-devices (but NOT devices running Psion's EPOC, and emphatically not running DOS CE, ahem) in concert with IBM's OS/2 operating system on your desktop.

    If you're a dedicated OS/2 user who's just bought, or considering buying, a Palm OS device, you're in the right place.

    This site is primarily the repository for Alexander Wagner's OS/2 versions of:

    • the GNU Pilot Link software, which allows for easy transfer between your Palm OS device and your OS/2 desktop
    • the Perl-Interface for Pilot-Link, a set of libraries for enabling powerful transfer and parsing capability between your OS/2 desktop and your Palm device, such as for
    • the OS/2 version of Plucker, a very handy application for downloading web pages for remote viewing on your Palm device -- for example, if you'd like to read newspaper stories on your Palm whilst riding on the bus, limousine, or Formula 1 racer.

    If you know exactly what you're after, by all means, proceed directly to the Pilot Link, Perl-Interface for Pilot-Link, or Plucker sections, read, and download away. But if you're new to the Palm OS and OS/2 combination, or you use OS/2 and are considering buying a Palm device, you may be interested in the next few paragraphs.

Please consider this page as "Under Construction." Your suggestions, contributions, and bug reports are encouraged. Successful reports are based on using Palm III together with OS/2 Warp 4.0, but we're interested in reports of other devices -- particularly Handspring Visors -- in conjunction with Warp 3 as well as WSeB. Send these to Alexander Wagner or Ray Tennenbaum.

General Considerations

If you're considering buying a Palm device, have a look at some internet resources to help guide your decision.

If you've just bought one, it will probably strike you are very different from most desk- and laptop computers. If you're curious about information about native Palm OS applications, there are plenty of places to find out more about these: as you begin to check some of these out, you're bound to notice:

  1. there is a thriving market for third-party applications of all kinds, unlike that for a certain well-known consumer desktop platform. We won't even mention the market for a far less well-known and purportedly extinct GUI OS.

  2. these applications are spare and quite efficient, thanks of course to the PDA's memory constraints.
Finally, there are other applications which will allow you to use OS/2 to connect to your Palm device, particularly StarOffice, and Brad Barclay's jSynchmanager and jConduits -- you can find an overview of them right here.

Interfacing the Palm

The package of choice for interfacing the Palm and exchanging data on OS/2 (and Unix) is Pilot-Link. Here you'll find the latest versions: For other, more complex, and useful exchanges of information between your Palm PDA and your OS/2 system -- like, for example, Plucker -- you'll want to install the Perl-Interface for Pilot-Link, and Perl for OS/2. If you've got Perl for OS/2 installed, go ahead and download the Perl- Interface for Pilot-Link as directed below.

The Perl-Interface for Pilot-Link

If you don't have Perl installed, or don't know what it is, click here.

If you've got Perl running, download (117 kb), and unzip it into a dummy directory, and then copy the contents to the proper PATH where your Perl libraries are installed. This is usually X:\PERL, as indicated in your config.sys statements. Be very sure to copy the files into the precise corresponding subdirectories.

This interface allows you to create your own scripts nicely interfacing with the Palm. Unfortunately the whole thing is undocumented, so you'll need to play around a lot and look into other sources to learn how to use it. Hopefully we'll be able to publish at least a rudimentary documentation of the whole stuff here. Here's a look at some of what you can do right now:

Interfacing common apps

  • Sync Mail between your Palm and PMMail
    This is a small Perl script which allows you to synchronize Mail between your Palm and Blueprint Softwareworks's popular PMMail/2. With it you may retrieve mail from PMMail's folders (including subfolders, if you wish), and check your POP-server for mail PMMail has not already retrieved. Additionally you can specify a folder whose contents are always copied to your Palm. I wrote this script to work for me, but it could easily be modified. Adapt it to your own needs.

    It should be fairly easy to adopt to other mail programs such as PostRoad Mailer, Netscape, or MR/2. As it is not platform specific -- except of course for the part which refers to PMMail -- it can also be changed to work with common Unix-Mailsystems.

    NOTE: This script requires running Perl (we recommend V5.005_53) and Pilot-Link including its Perl-Interface. See above how to get these parts.

  • Convert PMMail's Addressbook to Palm
    A "quick and dirty" hack. It only reads in name and mailaddress, and breaks up the name to conform to Palm's addressbook (first name and lastname, which PMMail doesn't distinguish), then writes out a file suitable to pilot-addresses for transfer. I used this one to get all mail addresses from within PMMail to my Palm into a specific category (e-mail) easily. As I don't store real addresses within PMMail I had no need to do more than these fields. If it's useful for you, you might consider expanding it to handle other parts of the addressbook as well, it should be pretty easy to do.
  • Dump Palm Databases
    Quite useful for developers: it dumps a database so you can see its structure and the contents of the records.
  • Delete a Palm Database
    Also useful. Use it to delete a database completely -- including PalmOSs own databases. Use with care!

Useful Applications

  • Plucker
    Plucker is a superb program to which I only contributed a few parts. It's used to retrieve webpages, and store them on the Palm to read them offline.
    Please refer to the docs of Plucker for details.