Share GPS
Android app for sharing GPS data with mapping applications

The following method has Share GPS listen for connections and has the PC connect to it. For a potentially more automated way by going in the other direction, skip to next section.

  1. Make sure the Linux PC is setup for Bluetooth. Check for these packages:
    • BlueZ - core bluetooth package for most distributions
    • gpsd - helper program that can distribute GPS data
    • blueman - most useful GUI manager program (gnome's manager isn't detailed enough)
  2. Setup the Linux PC to be discoverable in it's Bluetooth settings.
  3. In Share GPS, create a new connection for NMEA Bluetooth and set it up to Auto Find devices.
  4. Pick the device from the list. If it has not been paired Share GPS will attempt to start the pairing process.

  5. Start the connection in Share GPS. It will default to a listening mode.
  6. In Blueman, select the device and go to Device -> ShareGPS and connect. If the mobile is not in the list, make it discoverable by using the icon in the ShareGPS navigation bar. Then use Adapter->Search to find the mobile.

  7. The serial port should indicate connected to the serial port, something like /dev/rfcomm0.
  8. If you do not have Blueman (or Blueman is giving you issues) and need to use the command line, do the following commands:
    • [root@tc01 ~]# hcitool scan
      Scanning ...
      C4:43:8F:A1:19:DA Nexus 5
      5C:F3:70:6C:FA:61 XMBC-PC

    • sdptool browse C4:43:8F:A1:19:DA

      In the output that follows, find the entry for Share GPS and note the channel number, it is used next

      Service Name: ShareGPS
      Service RecHandle: 0x1000d
      Service Class ID List:
      "Serial Port" (0x1101)
      Protocol Descriptor List:
      "L2CAP" (0x0100)
      "RFCOMM" (0x0003)
      Channel: 5

    • Start the connection in Share GPS. It will default to a listening mode.

    • rfcomm connect /dev/rfcomm1 C4:43:8F:A1:19:DA 5

  9. Share GPS should indicate Connected.
  10. Start GPSD on the correct serial port
    gpsd -N -n -b /dev/rfcomm1
  11. Now start the GPSD compatible program, such as OpenCPN
  12. The Linux version of Google Earth does not support NMEA over a serial port. For that, we need to convert to a KML.
    • To read NMEA directly without GPSD, try this python script with the serial port and desired kml file specified.

      python /dev/rfcomm1 ./gps.kml

      The python-serial module (pyserial) needs to be installed, how this is done depends on the distribution
    • To read data from GPSD, use this python script desired kml file specified.

      python ./gps.kml

The following method has the PC listen for connections and has Share GPS connect. This can be useful as the PC can be setup to start listening on boot and automatically start gpsd as needed. By doing this, the user never has to touch the linux PC, so it is good for headless systems. Using the tools here depends on the user having systemd as their init system. Most of the popular distributions have or are moving to this system.

  1. Grab the following file from the Downloads page: bt-gps.tar.gz
    Unzip in a convenient location.
  2. Run as root or sudo.

    [user@tc01 ~]# sudo ./
  3. The script will perform the following tasks:
    • Finds an open bluetooth channel to setup Serial Port Profile on. Uses command

      sdp browse local

      If the command is not working, it will attempt to have the bluetooth service run in compatibility mode
    • Finds an open rfcomm device to use for bluetooth connections
    • Install services for listening to bluetooth connections and starting gpsd on socket access.
    • The following files are created:
      • /usr/local/bin/
      • /etc/systemd/system/bt-gps.service
      • /etc/systemd/system/bt-gpsd.service
      • /etc/systemd/system/bt-gpsd.socket
    • Then the systemd daemon control is restarted as well as starting the bt-gps service.
  4. If the script did not find sdptool, gpsd, or rfcomm, edit the file /usr/local/bin/ with the full location to the binaries. If gpsd is not found, edit the file /etc/systemd/system/bt-gpsd.service with the full path.
  5. If any changes were needed, restart the service

    systemctl restart bt-gps
  6. Now the PC is listening for bluetooth connections
  7. Start Share GPS and then re-pair the phone with the PC. This is necessary so that Share GPS knows the channel the PC is listening on.
  8. Once the phone is re-paired, start the connection. It will start in a Listening mode.
  9. Now long press the connection and press Connect. The status should then go to Connected.
  10. Once the phone is connected, a listening socket is started on port 2147 for GPSD. As soon as a client tries to connect to the port, GPSD should start.
  11. To test things, try using one of the gpsd example clients. Run xgps & and verify you get coordinates in xgps.
  12. If wanting to use KML files, see previous section for a python script that can help.


  • If having trouble with bluetooth connections, try things like un-pairing the phone on both sides, turn bluetooth on and off, airplane mode and back, etc, etc. Get back to square one and re-pair, just be sure Share GPS is running on the mobile and the bt-gps service is running on the PC.