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Handhelds Hardware

Agenda, Not Hidden 78

Posted by timothy
from the promise-last-one! dept.
A nameless reader writes: "There is a very favorable and detailed review of the Agenda VR3 at O'Reilly's oreillynet.com site. Unlike many previous reviews, this reviewer is a developer himself, and appreciates the benefits that a full Linux/X windows on a PDA can offer to a knowledgeable user. He also has obviously done his homework, and provides a lot of useful supplementary information." The "Consumer IR" port is one feature I predict will soon mysteriously end up in a lot of other similarly-sized devices as well. Funny, weren't we just reading the obituary of Linux on the desktop?
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Agenda, Not Hidden

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Nice to see the M$ hacks are alive and well!

    with no email app

    http://www2.math.uni-potsdam.de/agenda/download. ph p?op=geninfo&did=58 Minimail is an "online/offline" mail program for the agenda.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Let's put this in perspective.

    $250 isn't bad for a new PDA. It's more than the low end Palms and Handsprings which the Agenda does come closer to approximate, but compared to the entire PDA market, including Psions, PalmOS compatibles, and WindowCE devices, it's splat in the middle of the price range. It's not a great feature set for the price, but it's not horrible either, considering the RAM this thing has (although that's more of necessity than a feature for increased storage).

    Add in the Consumer IR. Most smaller, programmable LCD remote controls (Philips pronto, for example) tended to run over $200 (about $150 today). Equivalently, grabbing a Handspring Visor and adding the Springboard IR module (to get acceptable range) will come darn close to $250. So, even if the market falls out, if someone writes a good remote IR program, you can use this as your remote.

    Finally, a decent number of people in the community spent around $100 when the Matrix Orbital LCDs came out for monitoring their servers. While you can get a palm with terminal program to do the job, so can the Agenda.

    $250 is a lot of money, but not for this PDA. They aren't trying to rob you here.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    You're forgetting a rather important thing. That being, you have the distinct advantage of hindsight.

    The Agenda's makers and partners did not. They had to approximate what the market would be, what consumers would want, develop a usable product, and hope it sells.

    This is known as trying to carry out success business. Calculate the risks, try to make good decisions, and implement.

    Even one year ago, Linux was hot. And the PDA market was predicted to grow a substantial amount according to CNET, CNBC, and pretty much any tech mag you read. The war between PDAs and cell phones was going to intensify. Why in the world do you think Samsung with Yopy, Sharp with their improved Zaurus, and others, including Microsoft with their new PDAs, were still pushing into the market with newly developed products? Look, TRG even reinvented (and renamed as Handera) themselves from a PDA memory upgrade company to having 2 full blown PDAs. This all was done not to meet the status quo, where the users already had PDAs. It was to meet the demand that there would be more -new- users and the old users would upgrade their PDAs.

    Linux in the PDA market? Seemed like a pretty damn strong winner.

    1 million units in 2 years in a) a growing PDA market, b) with PDA users definitely having disposable income to upgrade or get a new toy, esp. given the tech market then, c) based on an OS (Linux) with a rapidly increasing user base (for the desktop as well as embedded devices, and c) based on a OS that was also capturing the desktop market, making getting a similar PDA a valued "feature"? Cripes. That's about as good of a market decision as you can make.

    I'm surprised more didn't. Wait, they did but gave up.

    You, on the other hand, don't do any of this. You didn't take the risk, you didn't try. You are the critic. That's easy. You look at the mentioned numbers and lamblast them for their supposedly stupidity.

    Sorry, but you wouldn't be saying this one year ago, and you wouldn't be saying it now if the tech markets hadn't fallen through and PDAs and Linux continued it's upswing. Maybe their continued optimism may be still too much, but their numbers are definitely not off the wall. They are sticking by them probably because they have to--you don't ever put a negative spin on a yet to be fully shipped product if you are smart.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 22, 2001 @11:22AM (#205126)
    Well, unlike Indrema, they are shipping out product.

    There may be no "use" for it as far as regular Joe Consumer is concerned, but the business value of this product is staggering. Imagine using this as a UI for various business processes (like how RF guns and laptops are used today).

    I have already found several applications for my developer addition device, and am working out a deal for purchasing quantity of their "consumer" product wholesale.

  • The developers aren't necessarily on a high horse just because they don't want to deal with interface issues. I expect that it is almost always a matter of priorities. Interfaces can be extremely difficult to design and implement and, depending on the developer's priorities, it is possible that time might be more efficiently spent somewhere else -- for instance, learning how to use the crappy interface.

    If you really want a good interface, pay a developer to put your priorities at the head of his list. Give direct input about how you want things done. And you'll get the world's best GUI for you. Of course, nobody else will like it, and your contribution will be decried as the self-centered work of a pompus developer.

    The developers are targetting a different niches in which they're interested. If you aren't in the same niche as a particular developer, it's not surprising that you don't like some of the work from that developer. It's very similar to regional or cultural preferences, and quite unlike the mass consumerism and marketing that you see in the record industry (everyone knows who Brittney Speares is), the movie industry (we've all heard of Steven Spielburg by now), and the consumer-oriented software industry (Windows, McAfee, etc).

    There is no reason for one developer to try to please everyone, anymore than the French should remove mold from their cheeses to achieve greater US market penetration. The internet allows physically separated niche communities to come together, to make things like GNU/Linux. For people in the right niche, GNU/Linux is the best thing ever. Even better, the GNU/Linux folks work hard to make their programs interoperable with programs from outside their culture/region/niche. That's because they don't expect to everything to everyone. They just try to be friendly to outsiders, and useful to insiders.

    World domination is a *joke*. The internet is (hopefully) the death of mass marketing and mass consumerism, and the return to proper customer relations. If the GNU/Linux "movement" is going to dominate the world in any way, it will be the *style* that dominates, not the programs.

    -Paul Komarek
  • by Paul Komarek (794) <komarek.paul@gmail.com> on Tuesday May 22, 2001 @01:42PM (#205128) Homepage
    Everything you argue is based on how many Agenda units can be sold. One would hope that Agenda has forseen that they aren't going to sell a unit to every human on the planet. One would hope that Agenda has made a good effort to realistically predict the size of their market, and adopted an appropriate business model including appropriate margins on each device sold.

    If they haven't done these things, they are a bad business and will fail, no matter what they are selling. If they have done these things, I don't understand why they would necessarily fail in one year. As far as this goes, it's worth keeping in mind that something like 50% of new businesses fail within the first year or two. At any rate, I am in the niche market that wants a hendheld computer to do on-the-spot network analysis, Python scripting, and LaTeX compsosition (using a keyboard, of course). Therefore I can assure you that a powerful palmtop does have a market, and that market is not on drugs.

    And what do you mean by a "full-fledged personal computer"? Do you mean something like an Altair, TI 99/4A or C64, Amiga, Mac Classic, 386 or clone, NeXT cube, Athlon, or Alpha? I see no reason to insist that palmtops fall at the bottom of this list of "personal computers". I'll take as much power as I can get at a reasonable price. As far as this goes, the Agenda appears underpowered compared to the Casio E-125 Cassiopiea, which is definitely a mass-marketed palmtop running PocketPC. If PocketPC doesn't allow ssh sessions, that's a weakness, not a strength.

    -Paul Komarek
  • The Palm OS Emulator for Linux is called POSE. You can find it here [palmos.com]. If you're running Debian, apt-get install pose should do the trick.
    --
  • The truth of the matter is that programmers often don't THINK like users. It's often not a pride (high horse) issue, but more of a "well, _I_ understand how that works. It's intuitive for ME." thing.

    And also the converse: "It's intuitive for me, what parts don't you understand?" It's difficult to code a good interface when you have no idea what a newbie considers a good interface.
  • as a replier already noted, not all people want Icons on their desktop/menus. Now if the package managers had that defaulted to ON and the ability to turn it off or be prompted.......

    Joe and Jone 6-pack need icons added for them cause they aren't going to pop open a CLI and have a clue as to what will now start the new application

    LoB
  • by PD (9577) <slashdotlinux@pdrap.org> on Tuesday May 22, 2001 @12:01PM (#205132) Homepage Journal
    The agenda might be dead in a year, but eventually, we're going to really want these tiny computers to run Linux and all our desktop software, including the compiler.

    I don't know about you, but my life would be greatly improved if I could pack up a tiny palm-like device, a head mounted display, and a little keyboard, go off to the beach, and get a day's work done there. I could do that now with a laptop and a stack of batteries, but there's this small problem of posture. Even a laptop requires a chair and a desk of some kind, and it's hard to get an even tan unless you're laying down.

  • intelegently.

    Who are you to say, either way?

  • PocketPC (aka WindowsCE) JUST hit 1 million units and they expect this obscure device that's just black and white with no email app to sell that many units in a year!? Not in this lifetime...

    The price of the Wince devices has always been a major bone in my craw. I've owned two of them over the years, and to tell you the truth, neither of them have been worth the premium you have to pay for the "priviledge".

    At a price point below $200, I think they're going to sell well but I agree, they do seem awfully optimistic. I think they will hit 1,000,000 a lot faster than wince did, though.

  • No one wants to tar -zxvf foo.tar.gz ; cd $foo ; ./configure ; make ; make install its too cumbersome and difficult for cluebies as opposed to something like MS' self installing executables.
    What are you talking about? Isn't this what packages are for? Is it really that hard to type "dpkg -i foo.deb" (or whatever the rpm equivalent is)? Or use a GUI frontend that does the equivalent?

    Sure there are small projects out there that don't have pre-compiled binaries available, but most reasonably popular projects have packages available. And packages are more powerfully than your average self-installing executable.

    This is one area where it seems to me Linux is doing fine. Sure, it might be nice to have a new format unifies rpms and debs, but its not a critical need. And the GUI package managers probably could use some improvement, but most of them are in pretty decent shape.

    --
    I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations ...

  • Well, yet another reason to use Debian. Official Debian packages that contain user X-apps are supposed to add them to the menu [debian.org]. If you've found one that doesn't, file a bug. [debian.org]

    Doesn't Red Hat have a similar system? If not, then I agree, you should bug Red Hat to implement a system.

    And as for third packages, if they don't support menu systems, etc., you should ask them to (file a bug, contact the developers, whatever).

    --
    I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations ...

  • Where can I put an MMC/SmartMedia/CompactFlash or memory stick?? That's a decisive minus in my book.

    On the other hand, the fact that no other ones have a consumer IR port means all the others now have a decisive minus too :o)

    Guess I'll just have to wait for a perfect one to come along. I'd like to see more standardisation in the components that they include in these things.
  • Is it really that hard to type "dpkg -i foo.deb" (or whatever the rpm equivalent is)? Or use a GUI frontend that does the equivalent?

    Maybe not to the latter, but a hearty yes to the former. (Shouldn't this thread have been posted under the "Linux Desktop Obituary [slashdot.org]" story?)

    It is no longer considered reasonable to ask the average user to memorize console commands. Joe Blow shouldn't have to remember the various arguments to dpkg (or apt-get, or rpm). The package management software should handle it for him, which is why I continue to hold high hopes for dselect and Red Carpet [ximian.org].

    Sooner or later, two things will come to pass. First, there will be an open source office suite worth the hard drive space it occupies. Second, some distribution will have the balls to do an "express, idiot-proof" install, which dumbs the interface down to something like a net kiosk. When that happens, everyone who claimed that desktop Linux is dead will stand around blinking for a few minutes, wondering what just happened, while the rest of us breathe a sigh of relief and go to install the damn thing on our grandmothers' computers.

  • This page [geocities.com] has links describing how to control TVs from various Psion models in the 3 and 5 families. I've tried this on my 5mx -- works great.
  • What exactly do you think is wrong with the Agenda's UI? Admitadly the apps. need some work but for the most part it looks and acts like a Palm.
  • " Palmtops are used for things like tip calculators, unit conversion, to-do lists, notes, storing phone numbers, and the like."

    If that were true noone would bother with Palm etc. since there are much less expensive devices that do those tasks just as well or better. The cool thing about the Palm and WinCE devices are the add-on apps.

    "No one needs to port Apache to a palmtop. Telnetting? SSH? X Sessions?"

    Maybe not but being able to use the exact same calendaring, address book, email, news reader, and even accounting (ie GNUCash) on both your desktop and PDA might have some appeal. Personally I'm looking forward to getting the HP48 emulator going on an Agenda. Since *nix apps. tend to seperate the GUI from the guts of the app. it should be easy to attach a new GUI for those apps. that require it.
  • "Why couldn't Linux developers either in Redhat or some other distro make things this simple for people who're interested in Linux for the home desktop segments?"

    Some have been. There are at least a couple of Dedicated Internet Access devices (and Net PCs for the LAN) out there running Linux. Full blown PCs are different because the need to do a lot more.

    "No one wants to tar -zxvf foo.tar.gz ; cd $foo ;./configure ; make ; make install its too cumbersome and difficult for cluebies as opposed to something like MS' self installing executables."

    That's a straw man, that is not necessary to install apps. on linux.
  • One problem is that developer's won't get off their high horse when it comes to interface.

    Unfortunately, many programmers figure that if it's good enough for them, it should be good enough for everyone. If the user can't figure it out, tough.


    Note: I'm not disagreeing entirely.. more like elaborating.

    The truth of the matter is that programmers often don't THINK like users. It's often not a pride (high horse) issue, but more of a "well, _I_ understand how that works. It's intuitive for ME." thing.

    Personally, I often find myself writing applications that have terrible interfaces, but I can't seem to make it work in a non-coder kind of way. Or more often, not even realize that it's not intuitive to non-programmer-types. I'll write something, and my boss (who's a mac guy) will look at it and be like "Why didn't you do X to this?" or "This should work like X." And as soon as he says it, I'm usually thinking that it's a great idea, and why I didn't think of it myself.

    I think it's a left-brain/right-brain thing.
  • A lot of vertical-market applications require a handheld computer that doesn't cost the earth with good connectivity.


    These applications require none of the traditional PDA functionality. For example, we currently produce an electricity meter-reading application on Casio PDAs. None of the built-in apps are useful for this, and the CE GUI architecture just gets in the way.


    We don't sell many, because the product is just grossly overengineered and overpriced.


    The software is due for a rewrite anyway, so now its decision time - WinCE, PalmOS or Linux.


    The agenda is going to halve the cost of delivering our app to our customers compared to a Casseiopia, and will come out slightly more expensive than a Palm 3-level platform.


    Programming the Palm is straightforward enough, but the environment sucks compared to my familiar gcc. Being able to deliver the same app on an X desktop as well as a PDA is awesome, and i can't wait to get my hands on one.

  • " At all times, applications can be launched by selecting one of the soft buttons at the bottom of the display. On the far left is the Agenda logo which brings up a menu of applications. The other buttons launch applications directly, and by default bring up Contacts, To Do, Schedule, Notes, the Calculator."

    Why couldn't Linux developers either in Redhat or some other distro make things this simple for people who're interested in Linux for the home desktop segments? Some of the difficulties surrounding "point-and-click", "GUIville" when it comes to Linux and the average non geek user make using Linux intimidating which is one of the reasons the competition with MS as a home solution is a losing one.

    No one wants to tar -zxvf foo.tar.gz ; cd $foo ; ./configure ; make ; make install its too cumbersome and difficult for cluebies as opposed to something like MS' self installing executables. So while looking at the other article today which states the demise of Linux as a desktop, I stop and wonder what the hell are the developers thinking? Create a "HOME ONLY" based version of Linux without all the fancy source distributions for average joe users and market, market, market it for crying out loud.

    Instead of focusing on promoting the "coolest new trick" on the Linux OS' be advised Mr. Developers, that most geek know what Linux is capable of, and while most time and money is spent marketing these new things, some of you need to go back to the core of it all and promote ease of use if you want people to start using Linux. If this VR3 is as easy to use as the article claims, than someone at one of these distributions (Redhat, whomever is left) needs to take a pad, pen, and sit down with these guys and get it right, once and for all.


  • So, does it have a Compact Flash slot? Can I upgrade it? IBM Microdrive? There web site is almost, but not quite, entirely unhelpful.
  • by LordNimon (85072) on Tuesday May 22, 2001 @11:50AM (#205147)
    What are you talking about? Isn't this what packages are for? Is it really that hard to type "dpkg -i foo.deb" (or whatever the rpm equivalent is)? Or use a GUI frontend that does the equivalent?

    Unfortunately, not every package adds icons to the desktop and/or "start menu". What good is it to install the app if you don't also get an icon to launch it?
    --
    Lord Nimon

  • >Why couldn't Linux developers either in Redhat >or some other distro make things this simple for >people who're interested in Linux for the home >desktop segments?

    I've talked to one of the people who worked on the red hat installer. I mentioned a few of Anaconda's myriad usability problems that would confuse the hell out of grandma if she tried to install linux. Problems that could be easily changed in the code. He couldn't understand what the problem with the installer was. "Wasn't it pretty enough?" he asked?
  • Not the post, but the review. Yes, my developers Agenda has 8 megs of DRAM, but it also has 16 megs of flash RAM. "But this is not DRAM" they say--Agenda has something called XIP (Execute in Place) that allows stuff to be loaded and run from the flash RAM.
  • Well. I do put my Palm on my room's desktop.
  • The consumer IR port is a great idea! I'd love to have a PDA app that could be programmed to control every remote control device in my home (I'd even sit down a teach the PDA everything about each remote), then just carry around the PDA and never have to worry about finding a remote. I've tried this before with little to no success (first on a HP48, later on a Palm), but those IR ports were designed to share data, not turn on the TV 10 feet away from me.

    This makes a lot of sense, really. I know you can buy specialty remotes that have LCD displays and can be programmed. Of course, they cost the same as a Palm-type PDA and there's no real sense in buying a single-purpose device if a multi-purpose device like a PDA will do the job just as good.
  • They have attachements for normal Palms and Handsprings that add this kind of port. They've been around for quite a while.

    For Handspring [handspring.com]

    Other PalmOS Devices [pacificneotek.com]


    --

  • by Sc00ter (99550) on Tuesday May 22, 2001 @11:16AM (#205153) Homepage
    "Based on their projections of unit sales of 500,000 and 750,000 units for this and next year, the savings in licensing expenses could be in the millions of dollars."

    PocketPC (aka WindowsCE) JUST hit 1 million units (http://news.cnet.com/news/0-1006-200-6004696.html ?tag=mn_hd [cnet.com] and they expect this obscure device that's just black and white with no email app to sell that many units in a year!? Not in this lifetime...


    --

  • I am a Debian user. I don't use dpkg to install new applications; I use apt-get. Even an ordinary user can learn to type "apt-get xmms" if he wants to install xmms.

    I also love aptitude; it is a text-mode menu-based utility that lets you manage packages. If you don't know that you want xmms, you can use aptitude to look around and see what packages are available, and you can figure out what you want to try.

    (By the way, looking around through aptitude was how I discovered that the classic game rogue is available for Debian! I always wanted rogue and never knew where I could get it, and then I basically stumbled across it one day! I love aptitude.)

    There are also GUI-based tools. There is gnome-apt, which is not as usable as aptitude yet. There is also the package installer used for Progeny Debian, where you choose things like "Development Tools" and you get a whole bunch of stuff.

    I love Debian; it is so easy to manage the packages.

    steveha

  • Has answers for this: No, it doesn't support CompactFlash. There are two reasons - an issue with being able to use the processor's CF support at the same time as a keyboard(presumably emulated?) interface, and size. Apparently MemoryStick might be a possibility someday.

    Since there's no CF support, the MicroDrive is out. That gets answered anyway as well: the MicroDrive pulls down about five times as much power as the rest of the unit combined, so even if CF was supported using a MicroDrive would probably be an iffy proposition at best - particularly since (as with most PDAs) RAM gets wiped if the batteries go completely dead.

    The Unofficial FAQ is at www.lardcave.net/agenda/agenda-faq.html [lardcave.net]. It's a bit out of date, but it covers things that people working with the developer version ran into.

    -- fencepost

  • by Fencepost (107992) on Tuesday May 22, 2001 @02:19PM (#205156) Journal
    Anyone doing much user interface work (particularly for consumer-oriented devices) should read Alan Cooper's About Face and The Inmates Are Running the Asylum.

    One of the main things he recommends is developing a "persona" that you're developing for. Never say "Well, the user will understand this," you have to be able to say "Alice the 45 year old real estate agent whose only experience with computers is a browser-based home listing service using nothing but drop-down lists will understand this." By focusing your development on just a few personas that cover (or are close enough to) your target audience you'll find it much easier to target your development.

    -- fencepost

  • > Even an ordinary user can learn to type "apt-get xmms" if he wants to install xmms. No, they can't. Users are idiots, and until everyone realizes this, Linux WILL NOT be a mainstream desktop OS. An ordinary /. reader certainly can learn apt-get. Hell, even I, a certified Windows lover and Linux hater, can learn that. But I'm not an "ordinary user," nor is anyone who reads /. Think about it. People call tech support for Windows installs that involve an entire double click. Expecting Joe Blow to open a CLI is just waaay too optimistic, and it is this philosophy that is keeping Linux from the mainstream acceptance that, from a kernel and technology standpoint, it deserves.
  • a lot of good. if i had debs putting icons all over my desktop all the time, i'd get pissed off real fast.

    oh wait, blackbox doesn't HAVE icons ;)

    -------

  • i was just on linux.com and saw this interview [linux.com] with a member of the YOPY development team. i'm having a difficult time deciding between a yopy and an agenda. agenda is being distributed, but a bit underpowered. yopy is still a ways off and the wait has been disappointing, but its prospects are promising and seems to have a bit more horsepower under the hood.

    andrew

  • "Funny, weren't we just reading the obituary of Linux on the desktop?"

    PDAs are *not* desktop computers.

    Linux has a very good chance of gaining market leadership on client devices smaller than a notebook where tight interoperability with MS Office and other MS SW is not required.

  • Duh. You're looking at the terms of sale for the DEVELOPER model. They offer the unit at a cheap price with an agreement to sign up for the developer group and generally give feedback. They don't want people getting $70 off an Agenda, fixing it up with the latest software for the consumer (the developer model does not come with all the pretty software intended for the final consumer product) then sell it for $225 and make a significant profit.

    This offer is an exclusive deal meant to save money for those wishing to help out the development of the Agenda. This agreement is designed to prevent resellers from exploiting the cheap price. Makes sense to me.

  • Go to www.buyagenda.com [buyagenda.com]. You may purchase either one of the three colors or the developer model from this site. Nowhere is it mentioned about terms of use for the consumer models. Your link is from developer.agenda.com. I can't be absolutely certain but it sure seems to me that the agreement does not apply to the consumer model.

    If you notice, the main agenda page isn't the most updated - your best bet is to post to the agenda users group or contact the company directly. I'd be interested to hear the response, but I'm fairly certain I am correct.

  • by FortKnox (169099) on Tuesday May 22, 2001 @11:41AM (#205163) Homepage Journal
    Funny, weren't we just reading the obituary of Linux on the desktop?

    I also found this amusing. And if you read the comments about the death of the Linux Desktop, all the die-hard linux users agreed with it. And now we have the die-hard linux users praising Agenda for using X.

    And now I figured it out:

    Its the "Lemming Syndrome." Its not whether the article good or bad about Linux, but, instead, whether the author is a Linux advocate (or well known in the Linux world) or not. Look, a Linux World author says that the Linux desktop is dead. And like a pack of lemmings (or the pied piper, whichever you prefer) you follow the crowd and admit to its faults. Now a Linux Developer explains how the advantages of the desktop, and everyone is back believing the Linux desktop will dominate the desktop market.

    Now, on the contrary, if someone at MS was to claim the Linux desktop was dead, everyone would definately point out everything Linux does better than Windows and the few that would state some of Window's advantages would be modded down as trolls (probably like this post will be).

    No need to flame me, I know what you'll say. Just think about it, please...
  • This is a big limiting factor in trying to put Linux on the desktop.

    Well, it's a limiting factor of putting Linux on my grandmother's desktop, anyway.

    The question the Linux community should be asking itself is: Would mass market acceptance be a Good Thing?

    If so, is it Important?

    I'm sure it is absolutely urgent to any part-owner of Red Hat... but how much does the typical Linux user really benifit by AOL'ers using Linux?

    Should the goal of every GNU contributer to dominate the desktop market, or should it be to simply work towards designing a user environment that suits the unique desired of GNU contrubuters. If the goal of Linux is "Free Speech" and/or "Free Beer", is there really an economic goal that ever needs to be realized?

    I'm not asking these questions rhetorically, I really would like to know why some people think that market share is really all that important.

  • Funny, weren't we just reading the obituary of Linux on the desktop?

    Do I really need to remind anyone of the huge difference between PDA functionality and that required on a desktop? IMHO, Linux is a fantastic OS for a PDA because it can be condensed to a very small image and is almost completely reliable. The reason that Linux struggles for desktop use is due to the sheer complexity of the thing. We geeks often times do not appreciate that the simplistic Windows is greek to many end users and for them Linux is beyond impossible. PDA use, on the other hand, is different. Speed and efficiency are all important and you never have to see a shell prompt. Linux is best for PDA's, embedded devices, and small servers. This is a good thing!

  • No Flames here...most of the flames related to the lack of modern full featured apps and drivers for Linux usually come from frustrated people who can taste the kill yet realize the prey has escaped their grasp. Similar to when a Basketball, or Baseball team goes from last place to first place and playing for the title. When they lose the title game the fans often will be disgruntled not because they don't see the great turnaround in the big picture...only because they did not grab the brass ring or have a story book ending.
  • Japan seems to be the place to look for what's hot (though it may only be hot in japan) and the PDA market is behind cell phone devices by a factor of 10 or better. That is cell phones with internet connectivity. Tao Group [tao-group.com] is into the PDA market as well, thru such companies as Amiga and Embedix.

    About reference to the linux desktop tombstone... guess that means linux has the home server market all wrapped up. You know, something for all them smaller devices to communicate thru.


    3 S.E.A.S - Virtual Interaction Configuration (VIC) - VISION OF VISIONS!
  • Congratulations, you are the first person to ever posit that Linux needs to have a more intuitive interface in order to gain significant market share.

    I particularly like your suggestion to leverage the power of open source software by creating a distribution which does not include all that messy source code.

    With people like you proactively saying "someone should figure out how to fix it", Linux will be on everyone's desktop in no time!
  • Even in a Palm, 8 meg runs out fast if you try to read an e-book or two.

    True. I'd expect a given number of e-books to take approximately the same amount of RAM, whether they're sitting in Palm or WinCE or Linux.

    Just take a second to recall the days of the first 128K Palm 1000 (just a few years ago), with essentially the same applications as today. They could all run "simultaneously", though not on the screen at once (you wouldn't want to). E-books were only on the horizon then. So contrast a simple GUI'd Palm from a few years ago _needing_ 128K for basic services (including room for notes and contacts, but no e-books), to one running Linux today _needing_ 10 times that much for basic services, and actually shipping with 80 times that much (8 megs). And then a reviewer says we need to quadruple it again. Heheh. I guess I am just a retro low-RAM grouch.
  • by dstone (191334) on Tuesday May 22, 2001 @02:48PM (#205170) Homepage
    From the review..."Probably my biggest concern is with the amount of regular RAM memory available -- 8 Megs is awfully minimalist, particularly when you're running a full Linux and X Windows environment. And when the VR3 runs out of memory, applications can slow to a crawl, or the entire environment can fall out from under you... I really think 32 megs should have been the first design target, particularly how constrained some applications might be..."

    Now if that was describing a Windows CE handheld, we would all scoff and and say "of course it's a RAM hog -- you'll need 32 megs". But this is Linux. Yikes. I know that includes X and RAM is getting cheaper and all, but somehow that spirit just seems un-Linux-like to me. Just an obversation...
  • I realize there is a market for such a thing among geeks, for who it's useful to have a PDA that can ssh, telnet, x sessions, command line, etc.

    But can geeks buy enough of these handhelds to keep the company in business?

    99% of the market for PDAs is to people who have never used Linux. They won't tolerate a PDA whose interface sucks. (witness the success of Palm over PocketPC).

    Like desktop Linux mentioned earlier today, this PDA will stink for the common man due to poor interface. This thing will likely go the way of Indrema, unfortunately.

  • One problem is that developer's won't get off their high horse when it comes to interface.

    Unfortunately, many programmers figure that if it's good enough for them, it should be good enough for everyone. If the user can't figure it out, tough.

    This is a big limiting factor in trying to put Linux on the desktop.

    The fact is, if the people say it's too hard, it is too hard! But don't say it too loud, or you're a "troll".

  • What are you talking about? Isn't this what packages are for? Is it really that hard to type "dpkg -i foo.deb" (or whatever the rpm equivalent is)? Or use a GUI frontend that does the equivalent?

    YES

    Look - yes, that's too hard! Newbies do not want to memorize command line arguments! What's a 'package' anyway?

    Do you see my point? If the user says it's too hard, it's TOO HARD. You, as a geek, have trouble understanding why the CLI command above is too hard. GUESS WHAT - the non geeks have trouble understanding why we can't make it clear that you aren't making it easy enough!

  • What a load of FUD. Compaq have been able to INCREASE the price of the iPaq, and demand still outstrips supply.

    Nope. Palm is bad value for money, and is losing fast. An iPaq for A$999, with 32 meg of RAM, brilliant colour screen, and a 206MHz ARM chip, versus a Palm m505 (we're comparing the two high-end devices here) for A$989, with 8 meg of RAM, pathetic screen, 33MHz Dragonball, and crummy online capabilities.

    Only Palm are having any problems -- PocketPC's are thriving.

  • Telnetting? SSH? X Sessions? Are you people on drugs? It's a palmtop, not a full-fledged personal computer.

    Actually, telnet and ssh would be very helpful for network admins, coupled with wireless. Things could be fixed while the admins are out having a life :P

  • At that price, you might as well as buy a laptop.

    Yeah, you could. But you may not need all the functionality and a bulk of a laptop. Just grab one of these fold-up keyboards and chances are that's all you need.

  • Or perhaps the coming of the messiah...

    a /. editor made a reference to a previous article in his comment. intelegently.

    in my best seinfeld: "What..is up...with that?!?"

  • Funny, weren't we just reading the obituary of Linux on the desktop?

    Figures that when Taco's out of town, timothy starts crackin wise!!


    -------------------------

  • I couldn't agree with you more.
    The biggest problem with linux is not the lack of software, it's the complexity to operate it. Gramma isn't going to run linux because she doesn't even know what this "Windows" thing is. She just knows that if she pushes the button on the box, then in 2 minutes she can check her email and turn it back off.

    Create a user friendly distro of Linux, and applications will follow. The key is to make enough apps to make managing the computer easy.

    Microsoft has a huge lead of most opensource developers, and I don't mean manpower wise. I mean layout wise. Go download 5-10 open source applications and look at the interface. Try to learn them all to about 80% efficiency within an hour or two. Now if you were to go out and buy 5-10 name brand applications for Windows and try to learn then to equal efficiency, you'd find it much MUCH easier. Why? Because Microsoft, IBM, and all of the others employ people that do nothing but design user interfaces! They design it, and then have a group of users test it. They collect feedback, and then they try it again with a new group. After a few iterations, they have a really easy interface for their application. They've cut the learning curve in half. All because they put more effort into making it look pretty rather than making it do something.

    Anyways, enough rambling. The point is, Linux is too complex for the average user. The average user wants to be able to put the disc in, and have the OS ask them if they want to run/install the application. It's sad, but that is exactly what Linux will have to do in order to go mainstream.
  • Oh, in case anyone noticed MSFT's spin - they said they had 26 percent of the over $350 priced PDA devices. In other words, they're being slaughtered on the low end, where the market's moving.

    And they refuse to talk about whether or not it's even profitable for them - which means it most certainly is not.

    Translation: even MSFT is forced to admit they're losing rapidly.

  • What a load of FUD. Compaq have been able to INCREASE the price of the iPaq, and demand still outstrips supply.

    Well, as a shareholder of MSFT, RHAT, and PALM, you would think I would agree with you.

    But I don't. My point is that MSFT makes money mostly on investments in other companies, not the OS. PocketPC is a drop in the bucket - but they aren't doing well, as they're not gaining sufficient market share. They don't have to win, but they do have to come second place, as in tech the winner gets most of the spoils and the second place gets some, and everyone else loses.

    That said, CPQ (Compaq) is doing pretty well, but that's mostly server growth, which everyone forgets, not the iPaq side.

    Business and tech are relentless - prices of consumer electronics normally drop quite fast, unless you can keep locking in upgrades with feature creep.

  • Basically, MSFT is only at a 16 percent market share, at a time when they were projected to have a 40 to 60 percent market share. And, as anyone knows, prices of PDAs are dropping, as are most consumer electronics. So, with the increasing cost per PocketPC being the OS, they are obviously dead, dead, dead.

    Now, if anyone tells you that the Linux versions aren't doing well, remember that the whole PDA segment is going through problems. Basically, those who wanted PDAs, bought them. And those who have them, see little reason to "upgrade" when it works just fine, thank you very much. Like me - I bought mine to keep track of movies I see at film festivals and political and community events I'm showing up at, and it does that very well (Palm V). Why would I upgrade? I'll wait till they come out with a wristwatch/cell/MP3/radio/PDA first and the price drops below $100.

  • That's my prediction: The Agenda will be dead in a year. Between Palm, Visor, and the big guns (HP with their Jornada, for example), the market has no room for the Agenda. Having Linux/X is no great advantage in a palmtop. Palmtops are used for things like tip calculators, unit conversion, to-do lists, notes, storing phone numbers, and the like. No one needs to port Apache to a palmtop. Telnetting? SSH? X Sessions? Are you people on drugs? It's a palmtop, not a full-fledged personal computer.

    For each geek that actually envisions using this device like that, there are 10,000 people who will go out and buy a Palm or a Visor -- and be perfectly happy. The Agenda has no compelling feature that will sell it to the public at large -- unless you think that the public will flock to it because it runs an OS that they can't operate.

  • Everything you argue is based on how many Agenda units can be sold.

    Yes. That is the crux of my argument. You need to sell enough units to pay the cost for development, marketing, tech support, etc. And I do not believe that this unit can do that. If you are selling 5,000 units and your competitor is selling 1,000,000 units, his production cost is probably a fraction of what yours is for a comparable product, so that's yet another reason that sales volume is important.

    And what do you mean by a "full-fledged personal computer"?

    Something with a real keyboard (i.e., one you can type on), hard drive, and screen of 10" diagonal or larger with a minimum resolution of 640x480. That's pretty basic, but it is worlds apart from the average Palmtop for usefulness (yes, I own a Palm -- actually two of them).

  • by VertigoAce (257771) on Tuesday May 22, 2001 @11:56AM (#205185)
    Before I begin: I've been a VR3d developer for the past six months. So this might be a little biased.

    The VR3 is not intended to compete with PocketPC. Who could expect a $180 device ($250 for consumers) to compete with a handheld in the range of $400-$800? In the same way, the VR3 is not meant to compete with Yopy. This is simply a very flexible low-end PDA.

    Also, Agenda has not been too clear about their plans, but their PR person mailed out the following schedule for those who are interested.

    Week of 5/21
    Agenda VR3 ships with Linux QuickSync software

    Week of 6/4 (our goal)
    Windows QuickSync software available for download

    Week of 6/25
    Agenda VR3 ships with Linux & Windows QuickSync software (plus e-mail, fax & other added software)

  • It should be no problem to use the hp48 as a remote control for your gadgets (as long as they don't use any of the new IR protocols. ( such as irda) )

    just have a look at www.hpcalc.org, and you'll find a few working remotecontrol utils.
  • Don't forget that in a hand-held the RAM is your total storage space.
    Hand-held RAM == desktop RAM + disk.

    Yes, I know there's ROM, but the PIM software doesn't keep phone numbers in ROM. If you want to carry more apps, you need more RAM. If you have a lot of appointments, you need more RAM. If you have a lot of contacts, you need more RAM. Even in a Palm, 8 meg runs out fast if you try to read an e-book or two.

    Desktop, laptop, or hand-held, you'll never have too much RAM!

  • Go to
    www.buyagenda.com. [buyagenda.com] You may purchase either one of the three colors or the developer model from this site.

    I went there, and was redirected to a very wierd page [buyagenda.com] that told me nothing. I went in through the front door and was taken here: http://buyagenda.com/cgi-sz/webcwrap/szw/st_main.h tml?catid=1&sid=0 [buyagenda.com], where I saw the three commercial models (VR3) but no developer model (VR3d). It was my attempt to find the VR3d that led me to the Terms and Conditions page. While I found the terms and conditions, I did not find the developer's model. I doubt if it's still available.

  • From the page with the 3 consumer versions at http://buyagenda.com click on Store in the left sidebar and you get the store's homepage with links to the Vr3's, accessories and developer units.

    Cool! Thanks bunches!

  • Check it out (emphasis mine): TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF SALE [agendacomputing.com] says, in part:
    Please read the following carefully. The terms and conditions in this section constitute the entire agreement between Agenda Computing Inc. and you (the "Customer") for the sale of products by Agenda Computing Inc. to you. By accepting delivery of products, you agree to be bound by These Terms And Conditions of Sale.

    Orders; Payment; No Resale
    Orders are subject to acceptance by Agenda Computing Inc. Payment must be received prior to Agenda Computing Inc.'s acceptance of an order and must be made by credit card or other prearranged payment method. Customer shall pay interest on all past-due sums at the highest rate allowed by law. Customer shall not resell any Agenda Computing Inc. products.

    Gosh, that last line is sure in the spirit of the GPL and the Linux community, eh? Guess I shouldn't bother to look for these on eBay.

  • Duh. You're looking at the terms of sale for the DEVELOPER model. They offer the unit at a cheap price with an agreement to sign up for the developer group and generally give feedback.
    At one time, perhaps, but I defy you to post a working link to a page that lets me actually buy one of these VR3d models. I was looking for just that page when I found the Terms and Conditions.

    Also, IANAL but as I read this agreement, if I buy a developer's model then I am prohibited from ever re-selling any Agenda product, even those I buy at full retail. Read the agreement again. "Customer shall not resell any Agenda Computing Inc. products" sounds pretty all-encompasing. To me, "any" means any, not "only those you bought from this developer's site."

    What you suggest makes sense, but that's not what their web page says.

  • Here is the link to buy the developer edition.

    http://buyagenda.com/cgi-sz/webcwrap/szw/st_prod.h tml?p_prodid=11&p_catid=4&sid=3btHmX0GS7fG7Xa-2410 1144655.56 [buyagenda.com]

    From the page with the 3 consumer versions at http://buyagenda.com click on Store in the left sidebar and you get the store's homepage with links to the Vr3's, accessories and developer units.

  • Fully agree - if you drop all that "Linux rulez" cheer and examine the situation carefully, you'll see a number of obvious reasons why Linux (in its current form) will never make it to the PDA market:

    • PDA OS and software have a very tight set of requirements that desktop applications don't conform to. Microsoft learned it hard way with the previous releases of CE, where it just tried to squeeze Windows into a handheld.
    • Windows is much more (l)user-friendly than Linux to begin with, so it has a huge headstart for the market with non computer-savvy target audience.
    • Write one hundred times - "X is no good for PDA!" X, being a client-server design sucks on PDA - it's just too huge and clumsy and layered to be useful. You may squeeze it here and there but it still sucks. Anything designed from scratch with PDA form factor in mind would be better.
    • A product may be competitive only by having a clear advantage over comparable offers. What is the advantage of V3? What exactly does it offer that would make it a more attractive choice over palm or CE based devices? SSH? You could get something similar on any of the above, but do you really use it? A warm fuzzy feeling of "Linux inside(tm)?" Good for you then... Programming? How much programming have you done on your PDA? A consumer IR port? Congratulations, you are slated just like the first poster to buy a $200 universal remote.
    To summarize, it is a pity that people, developers and investors alike, prefer chasing false goals instead of trying to define areas where Linux can be competitive and trying to improve it. Of course it is much more interesting to be engaged in a permanent war between KDE and Gnome, to have 120 text editors hardly deserving attention and it is much more cool to boast a PDA that runs Apache.
  • Actually, that was the receiving range, IIRC. My HP48 works as a remote from at least 5 metres.
  • This is the whole point. Eventually, the simple price issue means that Linux will start to encroach on desktops where only one application is run. The sort of job where the user comes to work, logs in, works all day with one application, then logs out and goes home at the end of the day. What difference does it make which OS is installed? None, except that you can install Linux for the cost of the application, whereas for Windows you have to pay $50 or $100 or whatever it is per seat.

    So people who do one task at work will use Linux (and may not even know it). That's where Linux will start to make an impact. After that, who knows what will happen? Personally, I suspect that MS have chosen a bad time to radically change their licensing model.



    Failure is its own reward.

  • Where are all the anti-Linux trolls coming from? MS had some extra money to burn and hired some out-of-work college dropouts to spread a little pre-puberty venom? Max
  • (1) Keep the moderators out of it. Slashdot is actually a pretty fair forum for discussion - yes, if you're a Windows radical trolling, you'll get modded down, but the same happens to the Linux trolls

    (2) There are two sides, and I can't see any lemmings around here! If you would care to read the article [slashdot.org], you'll find that nearly everyone is disagreeing with the "obituary." Get your facts right, and please try not to patronise all of /. at once!

    43rd Law of Computing:
  • by theblackdeer (453464) on Tuesday May 22, 2001 @12:24PM (#205198) Homepage
    well, linux for the desktop might or might not be dead - but at my office, where MS-out-of-the-box is common, we're about fed up with licensing fees, and MS hoops to get software on all our desktops. we're a growing dot-com (i KNOW you've seen our ads - they're everywhere) and there's like a trillion new employees who need a computer every week. this is largely what has caused us to switch to Mandrake for our entire sales staff.

    all orders are placed through a web browser, orders are accessed through a web browser, and KDE is enough for the point-n-click sales staff. they don't really care what desktop they're using, as long as they can do their job.

    and this is what might make linux continue to win - the sales staff, otherwise known as Joe Consumer, using linux at work. just like so many other joe consumer's using Windows at work, finding that they are comfortable with it, and saying "Geez, i'd sure like to do the same stuff at home as i do at work." the linux boxes at work are all configured, stable, and installed - there's a handy admin to come around and fix it IF something goes wrong, or doesn't work. but the response from our sales floor has been remarkable. they like it. so how long until they're looking at linux as "just another tool, i want one at home too"? i think as long as linux is free from most of the MS hassles, we'll see business use continue to grow. as business use grows, joe consumer in his/her office job will see the value, because they have to, and decide that it isn't such a bad thing. it won't dominate the world, but it isn't dead on the desktop. the sales staff just taught me that.
  • Actually, I think you could increase the range on the HP48 just by removing an attenuating resistor across the IR terminals (and your warantee ;-). Unfortunately, I don't have a link to a schematic handy. I bet you could do the same to a Palm...
  • Anyone know of a Palm OS emulator for Linux?Because if you can port one to the Agenda, then you have the instant bonus of being able to run all the Palm OS apps out there. Same goes for WinCE. The best feature is the Consumer IR, which would let you programme your TV/VCR/DVD/CD/etc into one and it's cheaper than the Marantz dedicated programmable remote (or other similar ones.) Here's the interesting use: I have a HP48GX which has an IR port that communicates with other HP's; the early models had a powerful IR akin to the "Consumer IR Port" in the Agenda, and the University Professor's soon found out that their exam sessions turned into an IR chat session! So HP added a resistor in the circuit to decrease the power of the IR so that you had to place them a few inches apart to communicate (but that was easily fixed with an appropriate short circuit.) So: the "Consumer IR" can turn into a "Student IR" in the hands of creative Engineering students! :)

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