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Guide to Syncing Tablets with Linux PCs

written by: •edited by: M.S. Smith•updated: 2/16/2011

If you're planning to sync an Android tablet or iPad with your Linux computer, read over these suggestions beforehand.

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    How Can I Sync My Tablet with Linux?

    Owners of tablet PCs will find that that on most occasions they can use their devices without going near a desktop computer. For instance it is rare to need to hook up your iPad to a desktop computer, just as it is unusual to need to plug an Android tablet into a desktop or laptop.

    These devices have their own built in email and calendar syncing apps as well as means of listening to music or even connecting to wireless network resources.

    However if you do find that something is needed in terms of synchronization, then you will find an answer thanks to iTunes for the iPad or one of many applications for data syncing that can be found for Android mobile devices (until Google Music is introduced, third party Android sync tools are all that is available).

    Now while the above examples concern Apple or Windows computers, the case is slightly different for Linux desktops. Tablet PCs such as iPads and the various Android-powered devices require different software for syncing.

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    Syncing iPad with Linux

    Using a Linux Desktop & Tablet PC Sadly iTunes cannot be used under Linux, even with WINE installed. The requirement then is to find a suitable alternative for syncing your iPad to your Linux desktop. This is available from the Synaptic Package Manager in Ubuntu 10.10, and you should only need to connect your iPad to your Ubuntu Linux desktop via USB for this to detect your device. You can then use Rhythmbox to sync MP3s and other media to the device. Note that you will not be able to access the iTunes Store.

    If you don’t have libimobiledevice available in your packages (for instance, you might be using a different distro), go to System > Administration > Software Sources > Other Software > Add and input this:


    Save this and then Reload – relaunch the Synaptic Package Manager and search for “libimobiledevice"; you should now see libimobiledevice0 listed which you will then be able to add to your Linux box.

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    Sync Your Android Tablet PC with a Linux Desktop

    Despite their shared origins, syncing Android tablets with Linux can prove difficult. In fact the only way to sync data between an Android tablet PC and a Linux desktop computer at the current time is to treat your tablet as nothing more than a media player.

    Linux provides support for syncing to all MP3 players, and it is this synchronization type that is available for Android and Linux users until the eventual release of Google Music in the near future.

    Again, you will need to use Rhythmbox to manage the syncing of the MP3s or video content between your tablet and your Linux box.

    Note however that syncing to a PC or Mac is no easier – syncing seems to be an area that the Android developers missed and are now working to resolve.

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