Syncing your Blackberry with Evolution


This document describes the steps needed to sync your Blackberry with Evolution, using OpenSync version 0.22 and the command line tool msynctool. The concepts are similar with other Opensync plugins, and should be relatively straightforward to sync with other data sources.

Note! - If you are using a recent version of Barry, please try the Barry Desktop which makes syncing much easier, and supports OpenSync version 0.4x.


The first sync requires the following steps:

  • Run Evolution and make sure it has created its local databases
  • Create a sync group with msynctool, and configure each member
  • Shutdown Evolution servers
  • Run the sync

Future syncs only require the following steps:

  • Shutdown Evolution servers
  • Run the sync

First Step

First step is to always make a backup of your data. Use the GUI backup tool that comes with Barry, or the RIM Windows Desktop software, to make backups of your device data.

Remember that your device data is not the only database being operated on. Your Evolution data is also at risk, should something go wrong. You should backup your Evolution data as well. See "How To Backup Evolution" (external link) for step by step instructions on backing up your local Evolution data.

Preparing Evolution

If you've never run Evolution before, start Evolution and follow its initial configuration dialogs. Once it is running, click on each of the available section buttons. These buttons include: Mail, Contacts, Calendars, Memos, and Tasks. Clicking on each of these, causes Evolution to open and create the matching databases.

Each of these sections should have a "Personal" folder. This is where data from your Blackberry will end up, and any data in these databases will be synced to your Blackberry as well.

Note: Only Contacts and Calendar items are currently supported in the Barry Opensync 0.22 plugin.

Preparing OpenSync

Opensync organizes its sync configurations in the form of groups. Each group contains two or more member plugins that will be synchronized.

For example, using msynctool, you can create a group called EvoBarry which will sync your Blackberry and Evolution like this:

        msynctool --delgroup EvoBarry
        msynctool --addgroup EvoBarry
        msynctool --addmember EvoBarry evo2-sync
        msynctool --addmember EvoBarry barry-sync
        msynctool --configure EvoBarry 1
        msynctool --configure EvoBarry 2
        msynctool --showgroup EvoBarry

Each configuration stage (1 and 2) will open an editor, where you can edit the member plugin's configuration file. Evolution's plugin takes its configuration in the form of XML. For example:


Barry's plugin member takes a simple text file. The default configuration that comes with Barry is shown below:

        # This is the default configuration file for the barry-sync opensync plugin.
        # Comments are preceded by a '#' mark at the beginning of a line.
        # The config format is a set of lines of  .
        # Keywords available:
        # DebugMode        - If present, verbose USB debug output will be enabled
        # Device           - If present, it is followed by the following values:
        #      PIN number    - PIN number of the device to sync with (in hex)
        #      sync calendar - 1 to sync calendar, 0 to skip
        #      sync contacts - 1 to sync contacts, 0 to skip
        # Password secret  - If present, specifies the device's password in plaintext


        Device 3009efe3 1 1

        #Password secret

Edit the device's PIN number, and save. You're now ready to run your first sync.


It is recommended that Evolution's backend servers be shutdown before the sync is performed. Therefore, make sure you've closed Evolution, and run the following commands to sync, using the group you just configured:

        evolution --force-shutdown
        msynctool --sync EvoBarry

Status messages will appear at each stage of the sync: each plugin fetches new records, the conflict resolution is performed by the Opensync engine, and new records are written to each plugin.


There are a number of things that can go wrong during a sync:

  • One of the plugins may crash
  • Opensync may hang, or take a long time, while processing conflicts
  • Opensync may get confused and duplicate a lot of data

If one of the plugins crash...

If one of the plugins crashes due to a segmentation fault, try to get a sequence of steps that can reproduce the crash every time. At that point, enable core dumps, and run it again:

        ulimit -c unlimited
        msynctool --sync EvoBarry

This will leave a core file somewhere on your filesystem. In order to get a useful backtrace from it, you will need the debug packages for Barry and OpenSync. The debug packages for Barry are available at the Sourceforge download page. Debug packages for OpenSync should come with your distribution.

Once you have installed the matching debug packages, open the core dump file like this, which will tell you which program was running when the plugin crashed:

        gdb /bin/ls corefile
        [... lots of output ...]
        (gdb) quit

As gdb loads, it will print the name of the program that crashed. Often this is /usr/lib/opensync/osplugin or something similar. Load gdb again with the correct program, and use the backtrace (bt) command:

        gdb /usr/lib/opensync/osplugin corefile
        [... lots of output ...]
        (gdb) bt
        [... useful output ...]
        (gdb) quit

Paste the "useful ouput" above into an email and send it to us .

If OpenSync hangs...

If the hang lasts only for about 30 seconds, then it is likely the USB conversation that is timing out. Enable the DebugMode keyword in the Barry plugin configuration above, and send the last few screens of output to the mailing list .

Otherwise, Opensync supports a detailed level of logging. If you set the environment variable OSYNC_TRACE to the path of an empty directory, Opensync will write detailed logs for every thread used during the syncing process. These logs quickly get out of hand, so delete them before each test run.

Some of these logs may contain private data, so before posting them on the mailing list, or on a website, you may wish to double check. You can also email them privately to the lead developer.

If you get a load of duplicates...

If the sync has crashed, note that OpenSync will know this and attempt a slow-sync automatically the next time you run the sync. If there is a mismatch in supported fields, this can cause duplicates to be created on one or possibly both sides of the sync. For example, if your desktop software supports a Speed field, which the Blackberry does not, then with OpenSync 0.22, these records will look different, and duplicates will be created.

This bug should be fixed in the upcoming OpenSync 0.40.

In the meantime, it is much better to avoid slow-syncing, and re-create your sync configuration from scratch, as documented above.

If you know that one side is authoritative (for example, you may know that your Blackberry has the most up to date set of data), delete all the data from the opposite data source, reconfigure, and sync again.

If all else fails, restore your backups and start fresh.