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.


Show hidden files in OSX

I hate not being able to see my hidden files in Finder. Why it hasn’t got a selector I don’t know. Still working on moving it to Linux Mint 🙂

I’m running OSX 10.6.8 (not Lion yet).

Anyway enter the line below into Terminal:
defaults write AppleShowAllFiles YES

Then hit ALT-right-click on Finder logo in the bar and select Relaunch. Job done.

Update 01-Feb-12 Missed my refs! A big thank you to

Add an opml file of Podcasts to ITunes

  1. Get your opml file (from Google Reader for example)
  2. Make sure the extension on your file is .opml (NOT .xml. If using windows or a mac, check in the command line that the .xml suffix is gone)
  3. In ITunes go to File…Add To Library and select your opml file from the browser
  4. If yougot it right you will be asked if you want to subscribe to X number of podcasts. Click OK
  5. Done

OSX: Create a Playlist From a Folder

I wanted to use this excellent command line from on the mac to create a podcasts playlist on my G1 each time I chucked some new podcast files on it. Unfortunately OSX (or BSD) aren’t exact matches to linux, so here’s my hack. It’s not elegant, too many pipes, but it works!

cd /Volumes/NIALLSG1/Music/Podcasts && find . -type f -exec stat -f "%c %N" {} \; | grep -v '\./\._' | grep -v m4v | sort -rn | sed 's/\.\//;.\//' | awk -F ';' '{print $2}' > ../podcasts.m3u

On my mounted G1 all my podcasts live in /Volumes/NIALLSG1/Music/Podcasts. I generate the podcasts.m3u to the Music folder.

The stat prints the created date as seconds from the epoch followed by the file name.

The first grep -v removes the stupid itunes symbolic links (mutter, mutter) that get copied across from the listings in iTunes, the second removes video podcasts as the Music Player doesn’t play the video.

The sort gives us the list sorted on created date descending.

The sed gives me an easy delimiter to use in the awk. A cheaty bit I know.

The awk spews out the filenames only for the write to the m3u file.

Teh usual caveats apply; your mileage may vary; be careful; etc.

Mac OSX: Things To Do First If You’re a Developer

If you’re a developer moving to a Mac may I recommend, from my own experience, you do these three things before you try and do anything at all other than using iLife or M$ Office:

  1. Install XCode Tools. You’ll need your OSX install DVD, select Optional Installs/Xcode Tools, and run the XcodeTools.mpkg. Budget an hour for it to install, hope for 40 mins. Maybe better on the Intels.
  2. Install MacPorts. It makes life so much easier than trawling the web trying to understand the esoterica of Mac OSX standard installs of various things like mysql, sqlite, python and ruby. None of them work quite the way I expect them to, and the hacking to try and understand what’s different, and then how to fix it, is so time consuming I have bypassed them and use MacPorts. It looks like a shedload of other people do too.
  3. create a .bash_profile file in your home directory. Use this for aliases (.bashrc doesn’t work).

All I can think of right now.