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Sony LIBRIe ebook reader - Linux HOWTO

In April 2005 I finally decided to order the Sony LIBRIe ebook reader, currently the only device on the market which uses the new E-Ink display technology.

Here are some photos:
front front front upside downside

There is a LIBRIe Wiki here, and tons of information about the device can be found in the Yahoo LIBRIe Group, which is also accessible via NNTP

The product is currently available only on the japanese market. You can, however, place an order at www.japan-direct.com. I found them reliable, fast and would not hesitate to recommend them. If you got any questions you could drop a mail to Randy, who is working for japan-direct.

Ok, let's move to the real interesting stuff now:

How to use the LIBRIe under Linux (Debian in my case)?

As you might have guessed by now there are no Linux drivers availabe for the device. But as the LIBRIe has a slot for inserting a Sony MemoryStick there is a way how to copy books from linux to it.

You need the following things for doing so:

- The makelrf3 programm written by scythic (at yahoo dot com), availabe here
- Booklistgen or BooklistgenGUI written by Peter Knowles
- A MemoryStick. (Note that this is not your average USB memory stick, it really has to be the Sony MemoryStick - though you can get one from other companies as well. Me, I use a SanDisk 256MB MemoryStick.)
- A memorystick card reader that will work under Linux. I heard that the Belkin USB 2.0 15-in-1 reader (F5U245EA) works perfectly. I use the Hama CardReader Writer 19in1, which works almost perfectly. (It loses some bits and bytes from time to time, but generally it's okay - and it's real cheap.)
- A LIBRIe (that's obvious, isn't it?)

Installing the software

For compiling makelrf simply unpack the files, cd into the source directory and run " gcc -o makelrf -lz book.c makelrf.c". It should come up with a binary "makelrf".

For information on how to compile booklistgen and booklistgenGUI I strongly recommend you to have a look at the included READMEs, as they are very comprehensive and leave no unanswered questions. They as well explain very briefly the way how to move your ebooks to the memory stick in a way that the LIBRIe will recognize and display them, so really DO read them. Please.

Preparing your books and copying them onto the stick

To put it in a nutshell I will just give a rough outline on how to proceed:

1.) Generate .txt files from all your .pdf files:

find . -maxdepth 1 -type f -name "*pdf" -exec pdftotext {} \;

2.) Convert the .txt files to .lrf:

ls *txt|while read FILENAME;
do
echo "Processing $FILENAME"
TITEL=${FILENAME#* - };
AUTOR=${FILENAME% - $TITEL};
TITEL=${TITEL%.txt};
ID=`md5sum "$FILENAME"|cut -c1-15`;
makelrf -b "$ID" -i /home/mel/librie/makelrf3/image.gif -x /home/mel/librie/makelrf3/info.xml -a "$AUTOR" -t "$TITEL" -o "$AUTOR - $TITEL".lrf "$FILENAME"; # Edit this line!
rm "$AUTOR - $TITEL".txt
echo "... done."
done;

Please note that the above script is a kind of quick and dirty hack and should in no way serve as an example for clean, structured and save programming. It also presumes that your ebooks all have titles of this kind: "Author's name - Title of the book.txt"
I am using a script here cos I have quite many ebooks that I really didn't want to convert manually. For this purpose I found the above script good enough.
Please note as well that the name of the lrf files and the single -a/-t/-b switches shouldn't be too long, as I found that makelrf occasionally has some problems with them then.

3.) Generate the right directory structure on your memory stick:
Let's presume that you mount your stick on /mnt/memorystick:

booklistgen -c /mnt/memorystick

4.) Now you should copy your earlier created lrf files to /mnt/memorystick/ebook/bbeb/book/

5.) Generate the necessary MgrTbl.dat file on the memorystick:

booklistgen /mnt/memorystick

6.) Unmount the stick, insert it to the LIBRIe - and enjoy all of your ebooks!

Who is this?

My name is Melanie Berg and I am living in Bonn, Germany. If you have any questions please feel free to send me an email to "mel at sekurity dot de". I like to get encrypted mails, so please do me a favor and get my GPG publickey here. You can also go back to my main page which is here.

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