by February 28, 2001 0 comments

The Palm is a very versatile instrument that you can use for functions like
keeping appointments and contact lists, reading e-books, playing games, and
scheduling. However, most Palm users also lug their notebooks around for tasks
like checking e-mail, Web browsing, and the slightly more technical users, for
tasks that require telnet or FTP access.

The Palm is fully capable of doing these tasks too. It comes with a lot of
networking features built-in. There are also many programs on the Web that’ll
allow you to do any of the above tasks.

Setting up the Palm to access the Internet is not too tough. Palm VII has
wireless Internet connectivity, but this is virtually useless in India. If you
have a Palm modem, you can dial out from the Palm to the Internet using the
modem applet.

However, this article talks about a different kind of Internet access–one
that requires some interaction with a desktop computer. This will be the most
common type of access available for Palm users in India. The Internet access. we’re
going to talk about is real time access. (For how to get offline access to
Internet material, see ‘Palm it on Me, Please’, page 58, PC Quest October
2000).

There are two parts to setting up Internet access on the Palm–one requires
configuring the desktop, and the other involves configuring the Palm itself.
Here, we’ll see the procedure for setting up Internet access on the Palm for
both Linux and Windows 2000 on the desktop, and take a look at some Palm
programs for accessing Internet services like e-mail and the Web. So let’s get
started.

The desktop end

Using Linux
Getting the desktop end ready for Palm Internet access is a short and simple
process if you use Linux. If your Linux box can connect to the Net and your Palm
can connect to the Linux box, you’re almost set. First, you need to install a
PPP server to allow the Palm to login, and then set up an IPCHAINS route that
allows the IP address assigned to your Palm to access the Internet (see the
section below on how to assign an IP address to the Palm).

To install the PPP server, run the command

/usr/sbin/pppd /dev/pilot 115200 192.168.0.1:192.168.0.101
proxyarp passive silent persist local noauth.

And to set up the IPCHAINS route, set

/sbin/ipchains -A forward -j MASQ -s 192.168.0.101 -d
0.0.0.0/0

in a startup script. In the above commands, 115200 is the
port speed, 192.168.0.1 is the desktop’s IP and 192.168.0.101 is the Palm’s
IP. You can modify these as required for your system.

Using Windows 2000
The procedure required for a Windows 2000 box is, surprisingly, more
involved. Here are the steps required to get your Palm talking to Windows 2000
through IP.

First, go to the Modems tab in the Modem Control Panel
Applet, select Add, tick the ‘Don’t detect my modem’ option, and then
select ‘Communication cable between two computers’. You’ll then be asked
to select the COM port to use. Select the one in which your Hotsync cradle is
attached, or the IR Port you use for Hotsync.

Next, open up the Networking and Dial-up Connections folder.
This is where your dial-up and networking connections are stored. You need to
create a new one for the Palm here. Run the Make New Connections Wizard. Choose
‘Accept incoming Connections’ and continue. In the next screen, select ‘Communication
Cable between two computers’ if it exists. Click Properties on this page and
increase the port speed to 115200. In the next screen, select ‘Do not allow
virtual private connections’. Next, choose the users who are allowed to use
this connection. In the final screen, deselect all protocols except TCP/IP.
Click Properties on this screen to access properties for the TCP/IP service.
Tick on ‘Allow access to LAN’ and ‘Allow calling computer to specify its
own IP address’. Also enter a range of free IP addresses that can be used if
required by the Palm. Make sure they match your computer’s IP subnet. Save the
settings and open the properties of the profile you just created. Go to the
Users tab and turn the ‘Always allow directly connected devices such as
palmtop computers to connect without providing a password’ option to on.

The next thing to do is to let the Windows 2000 box route IP
packets onto an external interface. This is to allow the Palm to access the
Internet. On Windows 2000 Server, simply enable RRAS (Routing and Remote Access
Service). On Windows 2000 Professional, it’s slightly more difficult.

The documented way to enable routing on Windows 2000
Professional is to change the registry key: HKEY_ LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\Current
ControlSet\Services\Tcpip\Parameters\ IPEnableRouter from 0 to 1. However, even
after repeated attempts at getting this to work, I was unable to do so. A better
solution is to simply install a transparent proxy server for Windows like
WinGate or WinProxy.

Once these steps are completed, you need to set up the TCP/IP
connection on your Palm.

Configuring the Windows 2000 desktop

The Palm setup

The main networking screen on the PalmThe
Palm side of the setup is fairly simple. Although the steps here are detailed
for a Palm III series model, it’s not very different in any of the other
series.

First go to the System>Network applet on the Palm. Create
a new profile, say ‘Win 2K Logon’. Enter the username in the field provided.
This username is the one that you use to login to Windows. You can leave the
password blank if you wish as Windows doesn’t ask for it, thanks to the option
we turned on earlier in the properties of the user profile. The next thing you
need to do is set a phone number.

An undocumented feature. setting the number to dial as ‘00’ lets the Palm use the serial cradle to connect to the desktop through TCP/IP‘What
phone number? This was meant to connect a Palm to the Net without a modem,’
you might wonder. Well, the Palm still requires you to set a phone number. An
undocumented trick to make the Palm connect to the desktop computer as a modem
is to enter the phone number as ‘00’.

Next, you need to set up the IP connection properties. Tap
the Details button and enter the following: set the Connection Type to PPP, Idle
Timeout to 1 minute, turn the ‘Query DNS’ option on and enter an IP address
in the range you gave on the Windows machine.

Set the IP address and Connection Type as shownNow
click the Script button on this screen. You must select the command from the
drop-down and enter the parameter to the command in the field next to it. To
connect to a Windows machine, you need four commands with the following
parameters:

Send: CLIENT, Send: CLIENT, Wait For: CLIENTSERVER, End.

To connect to a Linux box, the only command you need is End.

After this, come back to the main Network preferences screen
and press the Connect button. After a short series of messages on establishing
the connection, the button should turn into Disconnect. Your Palm is now on your
TCP/IP network like any other machine.

You can ping the Palm’s IP address from your machine to
check the connection. If you got any errors while connecting, go back and check
the values and scripts once again.

Connecting to the Net

The Win 2k login script that lets you connect to the Windows machineNow
that you’ve connected your Palm to the IP network, getting to the Net is a
simple matter. If you’ve followed the instructions for setting up the desktop
to forward your requests to the Net, you shouldn’t have any problems.

There are a lot of useful applications available that you can
use. A good one is PaPi-Mail, available as both a POP and IMAP e-mail client. I
use the IMAP version. This lets you sync your mail directly from the mail
server, select the messages you want to view, and then read, compose, and
organize mail offline on the Palm. PaPi-Mail is a comprehensive IMAP client that
has all the features found in its bigger desktop cousins.

E-mail received on the Palm using an IMAP client called PaPi-MailApart
from a mail client, you’d also like to have a Web browser. Although there are
a lot of good HTML and WML browsers available for the Palm, I personally prefer
one called PalmScape. This has the ability to view HTML tables and frames as
well, which puts it slightly ahead of the competition.

Palmscape, a versatile Web browser for the Palm at its own homepageThe
next couple of applications are not that useful, but come in handy in some
circumstances. A real gem to show off to other geeks is a telnet/SSH client,
called Top Gun SSH, for the Palm. This lets you telnet or SSH to any machine on
the network to which you have access. You get the standard shell prompt on which
you can use Graffiti to input commands and execute them. This software could be
of use when you’re, say, stuck at an international airport, and really need to
login to do some maintenance work. Simply point the Palm at any of the IR ports
(found at most international airports these days) and telnet in.

Top Gun SSH, a telnet/SSH client for the PalmOther
cool tools that you can install on the Palm include a simple Web server that
lets you manage your Palm’s databases from your desktop with a Web browser,
and a Palm VNC client that lets you manage Windows from the Palm screen.

As you can see, the Palm can be an invaluable tool, whether
at home, office or on the move. You can use its TCP/IP ability to perform many
of the tasks that you usually carry a notebook for. So load up your Palm and
make the best use of it. Next month, we’ll take a look at how the Palm can
talk to your mobile phone and what you can do with it.

Vinod Unny is a
technology consultant with iSquare Technologies

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