Ubuntu Woes with the Samsung Galaxy S3

Last week I purchased a Samsung Galaxy S3. It’s a beautiful phone, and I’ve been happy with it so far. Getting it to work with Ubuntu, so I can transfer or sync my music files with it, has been a huge headache, however.

The short of it is this: version 1.1.0 of libmtp, which is what’s packaged with Ubuntu 11.10, doesn’t seem to work with the Galaxy S3. (MTP is the protocol the phone uses to transfer files to and from a PC. Unlike the previous Galaxy devices, the S3 doesn’t mount as a normal USB drive.) The phone just doesn’t get recognized. After reading this bug report, I downloaded the source for the latest version, 1.1.5, and compiled it by hand. (Note: you’ll need to install a -dev package for libusb via apt-get.) That was partially successful: the gmtp program could connect to the phone and show files and directories, but Banshee (2.2.1) now crashed on startup. I was hoping to use Banshee, since it’s a nice iTunes-like music management application that I’d already been using regularly. I could try the latest Banshee (2.6) by compiling that by hand too, but that feels like a bigger ordeal than I’d like to deal with right now.

The easiest solution, of course, is to upgrade to a newer version of Ubuntu with newer versions of all the above software. But 12.04 ships with libmtp 1.1.3, and 12.10 ships with 1.1.4, and I have no idea whether these are recent enough to work.

I’ve been putting off an upgrade because I’m not even sure I want to stick with Ubuntu at all, given the recent issues with data privacy in 12.10.

So it looks like I’m out of luck, in terms of using Banshee to sync music on my current OS installation. I’ve resorted to installing an FTP server on the S3, and copying music that way. It’s awkward and annoying, but it will have to do for now. Perhaps I will write a quick script to do better facilitate music sync’ing over FTP…

(NOTE: This blog post was reconstructed after my super-light traffic WordPress database got mysteriously corrupted this afternoon. Thank you, MySQL. This has not been the greatest of technology days.)

2 thoughts on “Ubuntu Woes with the Samsung Galaxy S3

  1. Chow Loong Jin

    I stumbled across your blog while looking for a fix for my Samsung Galaxy S3 myself. Unfortunately, I’m running Ubuntu 12.10 and it still won’t get detected properly by Banshee. I suspect it’s due to some MTP protocol changes implemented by Samsung, because I’ve read some reports that syncing over MTP works when using CyanogenMod with the same phone.

    As for the issues regarding data privacy, I feel those are really over-sensationalized and blown out of proportion. The actual situation is that the Dash now has a shopping lens, and that searches Amazon for items when you search it. If you search inside the main Dash (Super) then it’ll search for items in every active lens (including the shopping lens if active). If you search inside one of the more specific lenses, e.g. Super+a for applications and Super+f for files, it won’t search in the shopping lens. And finally, the behaviour is easily opt-out as mentioned in the post you linked.

  2. jeff Post author

    I had some luck with a manually compiled and installed libmtp 1.1.5, and the banshee 2.6 installed from their PPA–see this page:

    http://banshee.fm/download/

    You might have to experiment with the order in which you plug in your phone and start banshee. It’s finicky, for sure, but it did work for me a few times, and I was able to sync music this way. I haven’t done it enough to note the exact circumstances under which it worked and didn’t work.

    Ubuntu added an UI option to disable online searches only after a huge wave of complaints by users. Before that, you had to remove the specific lens package, if i recall correctly, and it wasn’t easy. As it stands, the disable setting isn’t set to ON by default, which I think it should be.

    On a semi-related note, I’ve noticed a few daemons on a stock Ubuntu installation that store my user data in obscure places. I really dislike that, even though I can somewhat understand Ubuntu’s attempt to make its desktop more userfriendly. This post by Micah Lee matches my feelings on what I liked about Ubuntu and why I’ll probably also move to Debian soon:

    https://micahflee.com/2013/01/why-im-leaving-ubuntu-for-debian/

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