posts » Garmin Edge 520 on Debian GNU/Linux

I recently got a Garmin Edge 520 in order to track my cycle rides and performance. This is an interesting bit of kit which comes with proprietary software that automagically uploads data to the Garmin Connect website (via an intermediary bluetooth connection with your mobile telephone). However, I've no interest in doing that - I'd much rather retain use of the data for myself, and then decide what happens to it. Fortunately, as I found out prior to buying the device, this is entirely possible on Linux.

(NB, I haven't linked directly to any Garmin website as they seem to block access via tor. More fool they....)

My first issue came as I couldn't seem to get the device to be recognised by my OS. I tried everything - installing gpsbabel, messing around with kernel modules (really?!), and finally web-searching (not through google). This lead me to discover that there are two types of usb cable: one that only charges, and one that both charges and can transfer data. Problem solved!

So, next up was how to handle the data. There are in fact a multitude of programs capable of reading the '''.fit''' files produced by Garmin devices. GPSBabel is probably the most straight forward: as the name implies, its function is to translate different from one format to another.

There are various lists of other softwares available online (this, for example), plus of course a Debian GPS blend so I won't go into great details about others. The one I've started using, however, is called GoldenCheetah. I feel it's best to get to know one software as I'm learning how to use this new toy, and later on I can try out other programmes if I find it doesn't meet my needs.