gpsbabel on ubuntu 16 LTS for Garmin GPSMap 60Cx

Argh! Why is Garmin so awful! They make excellent hardware, that (mostly) works brilliantly, but the software for connectivity and on the website… grrrr.

In the last two/three months I have had to de-upgrade Garmin Connect on my Android phone (it’s at 4.1.7 cos everything so far after that has utterly borked any connectivity to my Forerunner 235); swapped from browser to browser as first chrome, then chromium, and, finally today, firefox, failed to display anything except the headers and footers of any pages after logging into connect.

Deep breaths… breathing in calm, exhaling bullets.

Anyway, after an epic (for me) 50km off road day on my Sonder Camino Al (drop bars, 650Bs @ 30 psi, cable disc brakes, 11 spd SRAM – astonishingly good off-road, must write it up!), my buddy and I were talking about having a more accessible map easily visible without us fishing out the phones, or digging in the bag for the maps. Since we’re goldfish braining, probably due age and adrenaline, we both found ourselves checking nearly every flipping turn and wasting quite a lot of time. We weren’t worried about it, it was a beautiful day, between 16 and 24 deg C all day, and we were not inclined to try and race it. We just thought, at the end of the day, we’d have been more comfortable if we could have had a turn-by-turn available. And probably not stopped halfway down awesome downhills to check we didn’t have to hang a left.

I remembered having some old garmin kit from some years ago that did the job. A handheld GPS that is pretty ancient tech now looking at most phones, but is waterproof, has real buttons you can feel, and a chunky screen with a flipping great arrow or zoomed in map pointing you to the next waypoint. I went digging.

The GPSMap 60cx. I loved and hated it. Loved it for geocaching and tracking my commutes on my wannabe Brompton (Giant something or other). Hated it because getting data on or off it with my Mac (at the time) was an utter crapshoot, and invariably took re-re-re-researching because garmin had broken or repurposed whatever piece of software had kinda worked last time.

So I dug it out today. The mount is no good for getting around this day and age handlebars, so two removable cable ties and it’s firmly attached. And then… dramatic pause… I got it working on both the old Mac and the Ubuntu 16 LTS boxen using gpsbabel! I am so chuffed. It remains to be seen how long it works for, but here’s a cheat sheet of what I did.


  1. Install GPSBabel from
  2. Make sure the GPSMap is switched off
  3. Plug it into the USB port on the Mac
  4. Turn it on
  5. Use GPSBabel making sure to leave it set to “usb:” on the Garmin device connection

So far so simple. Although it did take a lot of plugging in and out.


Absolutely loads of info on the web from about 10 years ago. Nothing current. What I ended up doing was this:

  1. sudo modprobe -r garmin_gps #not sure whether this was necessary or not
  2. sudo apt install garmin-forerunner-tools garmin-plugin gpsbabel-gui
  3. sudo nano /etc/udev/rules.d/51-garmin.rules
    insert this line (without the single quotes): ‘SYSFS{idVendor}=="091e", SYSFS{idProduct}=="0003", MODE="666"
  4. reboot (yes really) the system and login again.
  5. making sure gpsmap is switched off, plug it into the usb port.
  6. Turn it on.
  7. Fire up gpsbabel and admire how you can import and export data simply and easily with hardly any hatred of garmin connectivity.

Oh happy day! Hope it helps someone.

Thanks to (I mean, like loads of thanks, give them some money!), and to this guy on who got voted down sadly. Some of it didn’t make any odds, but it cracked it for me.

I originally posted this on forums cos I finally had enough of no RSS feeds and no-one to ask for them! You never know, maybe someone there will read it and finally get a decent developer to redo the site 🙂

I would love to be able to subscribe to my geocaching friends finds page. I would love to be able to show my last five found, or something like, on my blog, or family photo pages. People who don’t geocache but have a gps in their new phone or car will have a context and one click access to to see how much I enjoy it and maybe they’ll see the ads on the pages too. These feeds could only be available to premium members to create (if absolutely necessary). Peer recommendation is the key to monetisation of the new web. RSS provides the arteries for delivering it.

Google and Yahoo are gently introducing rss usage to the masses. The releases of Windows Vista and IE7 puts rss at the heart of the browser and desktop experience. The examples of Facebook, Twitter, wordpress, slashdot, the BBC, etc shows that freeing data means people love you more and come back more often. Islands of data restrict the spread of the good word about

Judicious use of rss feeds mean that the load on the servers can be more spread and reduce the mail server load as many people may not feel the need to have email notifications if they are subscribed to area updates. More (cached) static files are served on 2 hour update cycles (for example), rather than repeated dynamic results nailing the asp servers during the busy periods.

RSS feeds will enable to open itself to greater ease of use, and web penetration, with a more scalable data delivery. It will therefore be more visible and usable by more current and prospective users, opening itself to innovative mashups by passionate developers and ensuring its continued relevance in the burgeoning Web 2.0 and social networking scene.

A final thought: in an era of medium to low-end GPS enabled mobile phones, can you imagine what an opportunity would have if it developed a plug-in app to FaceBook with it’s 31 million tech-savvy users and proven meme propagation?

Another Great Walk Geocaching and Criticism

Cracked another geocache. Lovely walk round part of a huge manmade lake, run by Anglian Water. No hosepipe ban round there I think 🙂

It’s interesting (for me anyway) that, as we changed the non-functioning cache container for a new one, I was worrying about how to phrase our log of the find. Would “we replaced the container as it was leaking” be OK? Or would we be seen as interfering busybodies who should have left it for the cache owner? Maybe we should just replace it but not mention it? Or just leave the mouldy and rusty crap in the current container to get worse and add our own McTat to it to potentially poison the earth round a lovely and ancient spot?

Even now I’m thinking “Well, should I leave that in? What happens if someone reads it? I mean, I know no-one reads the blog, but what happens if the cache owner’s mother’s dog’s sister’s vet is into OPML and mentions in passing that I said such-and-such a cache was poisoning the area (which not what I said incidentally) and it gets to them?” Arrggh!

Very confusing stuff. A good book to read, that, among many other things, makes you think about the silly lengths we can go to to minimise any possible perception of criticism by others, implied or overt, is Lynn Truss’ Talk To The Hand