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Fri, 30 Oct 2009

Garmin eTrex Vista HCx on Ubuntu 9.04

I have found it unexpectedly hard to get my computer (running Ubuntu 9.04) to talk to a Garmin eTrex GPS device.

It's basically the usual situation - the device comes with some Windows-only software, which is very basic (to put it mildly) but makes sure that upload and download of data works out of the box. In Linux, of course, nothing ever works out of the box, which is part of the fun. But in this case I needed to try lots of different drivers, command line tools, GUI backends before any data at all was exchanged between the GPS device and the computer.

What did work well, finally, was a combination of GPSBabel (which converts all sorts of GPS file formats into all sorts of other GPS file formats), GPSD (whose special strength seems to be real-time processing of GPS data) and Viking (a graphical program to manage maps and GPS data). Apparently Viking needs a file containing a single line of code so it finds the GPS device at "USB:" - this is explained in a GpsPasSion post. This post was one of the very few relevant hints available online which I found really helpful. It also mentions Gebabbel (excellent choice of name!), which is an easy-to-use backend to most functions of GPSBabel.

Posted on 30 Oct 2009 at 19:02 in /technology. -- Permalink

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