[sclug] USB Bluetooth

David Given dg at cowlark.com
Wed Nov 26 20:53:00 UTC 2008

Graham Swallow wrote:
> Can anyone recommend a USB donge to do the bluetooth
> and the software to do the transfers. What will I see?
> a usb drive? Or something like kpilot?

Nothing like as nice. Phones speak a high-level file transfer protocol
called OBEX that is slow, clumsy and unreliable. From Linux, you get
ftp-like tools to access the phone file system. Gnome and KDE both do
reasonable jobs of giving you friendly access to this; Ubuntu Intrepid
will even manage to mount the phone as a user file system via FUSE, so
you can actually access it from the shell.

But mostly I'd recommend you don't --- a simple ls in a directory
containing 100 files just took six and a half *minutes* on my Motorola
PEBL. (Don't buy one. They're awful.) And then half the file system
functions don't work --- you get obscure file system errors when you try
to rename files across directories, for example.

However, you can also use OBEX in send-file/receive-file mode, where can
push a file to another Bluetooth device, and that works pretty well.
It's definitely the easiest way of up- or downloading stuff. I'd
recommend pushing files from the phone to the PC, though.

The good news is that Linux' Bluetooth hardware support is pretty good,
and miles in front of Windows; you can buy pretty much any cheapo
Bluetooth adapter and it'll just work. You may not get the new
high-speed Bluetooth, though.

(The underlying Bluetooth technology *itself* is actually moderately
cool; there are a number of other Bluetooth protocols, like PAN, that
work pretty well. It's just a shame that OBEX is so awful.)

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