Open Source Palm-Desktop Groupware

I recently discovered the comfort of using groupware, to organize all my communication and email needs. I never used a groupware application before, so maybe I am just realizing the potential of such software. But I am getting ahead of myself.

I commute to university the majority of the time. This means 3-4 hours on the bus, with little to do. Last semester I began intensively using that time to finish homework, edit papers and so on. One of the things I wanted to do is to write emails on my Palm Tungsten E, and send them later. The Palm came with a Windows-only mail client, VersaMail. Not helpful when your main desktop being KDE running on Ubuntu Linux (Kubuntu 6.10). Fortunately that is where Kontact comes in.

Kontact: KDE’s Groupware Offering
Kontact acts as an all-purpose groupware program. I will not discuss the virtues of this program here. It is a serious contender for replacing Microsoft’s Outlook or Novell’s GroupWare. You should check it out yourself. Kontact comes with KPilot, a great program for basic syncing of a Palm. Unfortunately Kubuntu’s version KPilot had bug in it. Fortunately I found a deb from that fixed my problem.

First, I needed to migrate my mail and contacts from Mozilla Thunderbird to Kontact. I needed to export my address book in Mozilla to LDIF. Kontact easily imported this. Kontact also comes with a neat feature for importing emails from other clients. A simple wizard, and my Thunderbird emails resided now in Kontact. An hour later of organization, I readied myself for Palm integration.

Palm syncing on Linux can be a chore. Fortunately, Ubuntu 6.10 comes with easy PDA syncing for most Palm PDAs. To my horror, KPilot actually removed contacts from my Palm. After I installed the updated deb for KPilot, this problem also disappeared. Now I all I need was the Palm’s email program integrating with KPilot.

VersaMail versus GNUGetMail
My Tungsten E came with an email client called VersaMail. Unfortunately KPilot’s email plug-in does not use the MultiMail format which VersaMail uses. Not wanting to buy an email client, I searched for a free solution. I stumbled upon gnuGetMail. gnuGetMail is a simple, open source email client and uses the older single account Palm mail format. All I really needed was something to write emails for later sending. gnuGetMail does both sending and receiving of emails.

I recommend both Kontact and gnuGetMail to anyone considering Palm based emailing.