Monday, March 30, 2009

HOWTO: Use Blackberry as Bluetooth Remote Control

I hook up my laptop to the tv to watch my videos. One thing that always bugged me was that I would have to get up if I wanted to forward, change audio or subtitles, etc. Then I read some guides of people using Nokia and Sony Ericsson phones as bluetooth remote controls. Since my Blackberry Pearl has bluetooth, I decided to try it out but had no luck in Windows. After some hard work and research, I was finally able to make this happen in Ubuntu.

This guide is written specifically for the Blackberry Pearl 8100 but should be applicable to other Blackberry phones as well. Also it can probably be adapted to work with other cellphones as well. Lastly, I accomplished this on Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid Ibex, so I have no idea if it will work with other versions too.

"Your cell phone should support JSR-82 or event-reporting feature. If You do not have any information just try to use anyRemote, firstly in Server mode, then in AT-mode" -anyRemote website.

Basically your phone has to be able to use Java with bluetooth (most modern phones with BT will probably have no problem). As far as I know, the 8xxx Blackberry phones have support for this.

For getting Java files on Nokia phones, you might want to read this:

To get the computer and the phone talking to each other you need to make sure the bluetooth service is active (if it is you'll see a bluetooth icon in the panel). Next you will need to install a program on your phone and on your computer (this program will translate your phone keystrokes to commands in Ubuntu).

1. Go to Go to the 'Java Client for WAP download' and from there download any of the jar files (they are all the same program - the only difference is that the files have different icon sizs - I used the file with 16x16, 32x32, and 64x64 icon sets).

2. After getting the jar file, transfer it to your Blackberry. If you have a media card, you should be able to use the 'massive USB storage feature' to get it on there. You might even be able to transfer the file via bluetooth, although it will probably be slow.

3. On your phone, go to Media, click the menu button, and select explore. Browse to the jar file and select it. Click 'Download' to install the application.

1. Open Synaptic, search for 'anyremote', and mark it for installation. Also search for 'pybluez' and mark it for installation as well. Then hit apply to install. (Note: the anyRemote package from the website is newer but depends on libbluetooh2. Ubuntu 8.10 has libbluetooh3)

2. Go back to the anyRemote site ( and download the following (.deb packages):
-gAnyRemote (kAnyRemote if using Kubuntu)
-java client
After downloading, double click on the .deb packages to install.


1. After installing everything, pair up the phone with the computer (For Blackberrys go to 'Set Up Bluetooth' and follow the directions. It should be able to find your computer after which it will ask you to enter a PIN. Enter any PIN and press ok. You should now see a popup in Ubuntu asking for the PIN. Click on it and enter the same PIN and your devices should be paired up.

2. Start up gAnyRemote (Applications > System Tools). If it gives a message about the Bluetooth service not being active just ignore it. You should see a remote icon in the panel. Click on it to bring up the anyRemote window. Go to Setup > Preferences and under 'Show in list' check 'all.' Click OK.

3. Select the application you want to run and click start (more on this later).

4. In your phone, start up anyRemote, and from the menu, select search. It should find your computer and any other bluetooth devices you may have. Then select your computer device and from the menu click connect.

Now key presses on your phone should translate into actions on your computer.

This application is very powerful and has a load of configurations that will allow you to control a variety of applications, keyboard, and even mouse movements. The key to configuring to your liking is to get familiar with the configuration files in /usr/share/anyremote/cfg-data. There is thorough documentation available on the anyRemote website.

I have attached my personal gnome-mplayer configuration below, which was edited from the mplayer configuration file. With this I can browse media files on my phone, open them up and play them in gnome-mplayer. Since I mostly watch dual-audio .mkv files, I added the option to change audio language and subtitles. My configuration is below:

1 2 3
4 5 6
7 8 9
* 0 #

1: Seek back (equivalent to down key)
2: Change audio track
3: Seek forward (equivalent to up key)
4: Rewind (equivalent to left key)
5: Pause
6: Forward (equivalent to right key)
7: Toggle fullscreen
8: Toggle/change subtitles
9: Toggle control ((equivalent to C key)
*: Help
0: In-phone file browser
#: Quit player

If you want to use this configuration, download it to any directory and, in gAnyRemote, go to Setup > Preferences and add the directory containing the configuration file. The application will be available in the main window. Just start it, connect your phone to your computer and you will be good to go.

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