Saturday, 31 December 2011

Setting up Kobo using Linux (Ubuntu)

I got one of those Kobo Touch eReaders for xmas (yay) and have been using it for some reading (currently looking through some PPUK policy proposals to keep up to date, but have some more books loaded too). 

One problem I had was that I couldn't get it to connect to my wireless. Reading an FAQ, it said I had to set it up first (i.e. connect with an account) before it would connect to a wireless network (which seemed a bit strange as I wasn't home when I got it). Looking into it, their website had an installer for Windows (unhelpfully labelled "PC") and one for Mac. Not particularly helpful if I am running Ubuntu...

I first emailed them asking about it (and whether it was worth installing the software as I had connected via USB, and Ubuntu had recognised it as an external USB drive and allowed me to add files accordingly). I got a reply just saying what the software did (which was somewhat helpful as I didn't know completely), but did not mention getting an installer for Linux. I have emailed them back being more specific (today), and will update if I get a reply, but had since found out about the requirement to set it up to use a wireless network, so decided to have a go at installing it anyway. 

 I already had WINE installed from trying to get other things to work (Magic Online and a driver for a USB Network hub - neither worked), so used that to run the installation software (I had to do this a few times as I have forgotten where things are installed to in WINE, so couldn't find something that had been installed, but it seemed to work OK each time I re-installed it to run the program). 

The program installed fine, I only had problems getting it to recognise the attached eReader. The first issue that I had was that it did not recognise that I had it plugged in (step 1 of 3 of the set up process). Checking on the WINE comparability website, there was a comment saying that it had to be set as a Floppy Disk as oppose to Automatically Detect. This was a little vague, so I will hopefully explain it in more detail here. 

This has to be set up before running the software. In WINE Configuration, there is a tab for Drivers:

To allow for connecting to the eReader, the following has to be done before running the set up program: 

1) Connect eReader via USB cable - Linux should automatically detect this as a drive and allow you to add files to it (which is fine in itself if you want to add your own eBooks or other files). 

2) Add a new Drive Mapping - I added "D" but I guess this could be any letter. As mentioned in the WINE Compatibility website, this should be set to Type: Floppy Disk (this is under the "Show Advanced" options). The path to this should be the eReader, for me it was /media/KOBOeReader - remember that I had the device connected at this point. 

3) Run the installer/set up program - the drive mapping has to be done first before running this, otherwise it will not recognise it. 

4) The installer then works as it should (or at least as I expect it should), it allowed me to create an account, updated the firmware and synced a few new preview books. 

That's it! It seemed to have worked fine, and the eReader it all updated and can connect to the wireless. Hooray! 

I got a response from Kobo; they confirmed that they don't have an installer that works for Linux. I pointed out this blog post that I had written (and that there have been a few people searching for how to get Kobo working using Linux) and suggested they at least add something to their FAQ about it; they said they would escalate my suggestion to their tier2 team so hopefully it will be easier for others in the future to get started :-)