Communicating with a Mako/Revo On Linux

If you hear "Psion" or "Revo" instead of "Diamond" or "Mako" that's because they are exactly the same thing. The Diamond Mako is simply a repackaged Psion Revo, using rev 5 of the symbian operating system.

Since these units only worked with a serial port, you'll need one of those. And before embarking, please note that Psion never supported Linux connectivity, so if you have access to Windows and can stand to use it, that's by far the easier way to get going.

However, if for no other reason than aesthetics, Linux is to be preferred.

The first thing you need is the plptools rpm; we used plptools-0.10-1.i386.rpm from rpmfind, and it works fairly flakily, but it does work. I installed it on my SuSE 7.2 system using Yast, which gave me a cryptic warning, which turned out to relate to some library dependencies.

Apparently, plptools wants to find exactly and rather than any other version, including later. So the solution was as usual with these stupid lib dependencies -- make a softlink to the later library.

Dumb, really, but all too common these days.

After installation, the first step is to start ncpd, the uberdaemon. If your experience is anything like ours, it will flake out and die. Start it again. It will probably "take" and you can move on (I used a ps aux | grep ncpd to keep track of the situation). You do not have to be root to start it.

You may have to create a directory /mnt/psion (Ak did, but my install via YaST took care of it).

The next logical step is to start the program plpnfsd, which (as the name implies) will allow you to fish around in the Mako as if it were nfs mounted. Start by cd /mnt/psion, of course.

The coolest program, I think, is plpftp, which sets up an ftp connection to to the Mako desktop. It has a number of nifty features, not the least of which is an initial instruction to type "?" for help, which does not work.

But "help" does, and all the stuff after that seems to crank as advertised. Also, plpftp is smart about startup -- it defaults to /mnt/psion/C: so you're practically ready to go after entering the command.

Last but not least is the program psiconv, which will render Mako Word files as html. Download the tarball (psiconv-0.8.2.tar.gz was the package we used; see Akkana's Mako page), unpack it, do a ./configure, then make, then make install. It will take a surprisingly long time.

After that, you can use plpnfsd to get to a word file on your psion/Mako, then type psiconv [filename]. The result is sent to standard output, so you can redirect it to any file location you wish. Works pretty well!

The other indispensable tool is Editor, available from just about any Psion site. This allows you to edit text files directly on the Mako, and output ascii text (which is not natural to the symbian system). Extremely nice.

The only bad news in all this is the Mako comes with only a serial dock, and my Vaio has only USB ... and I can't seem to get the keyspan serial adaptor working yet, so I have no portable communication.