Exporting text messages on Sailfish

I had to export text messages (SMS) from a Jolla phone running Sailfish (not sure the version is relevant, SailfishOS (Aaslakkajärvi) (armv7hl)).

Here is the best solution I found, using a groovy script (the bash scripts all had issues).

All scripts tested came from this question on together.jolla.com.

Here are the steps:

  • activate dev mode on the Jolla phone (I’ll let you follow guides for this)
    • you’ll be asked to create a user, it’s actually not the user you’ll use to connect over SSH, it seems to be a local user. For simplicity and consistency’s sake, I suggest you name it nemo.
  • create a working directory on your computer and enter it:
    • mkdir -P ~/Jolla/workdir & cd ~/Jolla/workdir/
  • extract the communications database, over SSH
    • scp nemo@192.168.0.xxx:/home/nemo/Documents/sms_export_multiline.xml ~/Jolla/workdir/
      The username is nemo (no matter what you picked in the previous step), the password is whatever you picked in the previous step.
  • Install groovy on your computer:
    • dnf install groovy or apt install groovy
  • create the script, using your favourite text editor. We’ll use gedit here, for simplicity:
    • gedit ~/Jolla/workdir/sms-export-groovy
      and paste the following:

      #!/usr/bin/env groovy@GrabConfig(systemClassLoader=true)
      import groovy.sql.Sqlimport groovy.xml.MarkupBuilderif (args.size() != 1) {
      println "Usage: dump.groovy "
      def (dbFile) = args

      def sql = Sql.newInstance(“jdbc:sqlite:$dbFile”)
      def messages = sql.rows(‘SELECT remoteUid, direction, startTime, isRead, freeText FROM Events WHERE type = 2’)

      System.out.withWriter(‘UTF-8’) {w ->
      def xml = new MarkupBuilder(w)

      xml.mkp.xmlDeclaration(version: ‘1.0’, encoding: ‘UTF-8’)
      xml.smses(count: messages.size()) {
      messages.each {
      protocol: 0,
      address: it.remoteUid,
      date: “${it.startTime}000”,
      type: it.direction,
      subject: ‘null’,
      body: it.freeText,
      toa: ‘null’,
      sc_toa: ‘null’,
      service_center: ‘null’,
      read: it.isRead,
      status: -1,
      locked: 0,

      (Thanks Sami Bourkott for the script)

    • make the script executable:
      • chmod +x ~/Jolla/workdir/sms-export-groovy
    • run the script on the SMS database and tell the shell to output the results in a given file, which we’ll call sms_export_$DATE.xml:
      • ./sms_export_multiline.groovy commhistory.db > sms_export-`date -I`.xml

That’s it, you now have an xml file with all your text messages, in a format compatible with Android’s SMS Backup & Restore.

If you want to restore the text messages, you’d want to send the commhistory.db file back to the phone. I suggest you copy the commhistory.db file to include the date, so you can have several in parallel and still have a clue which one contains what: cp -a commhistory.db commhistory.db.`date -I`

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