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Handhelds Hardware

New Linux PDA Announced At CES Today 161

Posted by timothy
from the the-field-gets-crowded dept.
It looks like the Royal Linux-PDA project has borne fruit. Bill Kendrick writes: "Linux Devices reports that Royal (makers of the DaVinci PDA) have announced yet another Linux-based PDA, called 'Lin@x' (how do you pronounce that!?). Unlike the DaVinci (and the Agenda VR3 -- Agenda Computing is owned by the same company as Royal), this PDA sports a 206MHz StrongARM, a color screen, and a CompactFlash slot. Planned price is about US$300." According to the PR, it will come bundled with software for Linux desktops as well as for Windows, which would be a nice touch.
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New Linux PDA Announced At CES Today

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  • This looks a lot like a Casio PDA... On another note, will this PDA support WinCE applications? Palm OS? If not, I see this going nowhere...
    • [QUOTE]On another note, will this PDA support WinCE applications? Palm OS? If not, I see this going nowhere...[/QUOTE]

      It was mentioned that there is already an X11 implementation for it, and a Unix Palm emulator already has been ported. So yes, in a manner of speaking.
  • I'm still waiting for the Yopy!
  • Why would they put a @ in the name, gotta be different.
  • by Mandelbrute (308591) on Tuesday January 08, 2002 @11:52PM (#2807770)
    According to RMS from a few years back it should probably be LiGNU@X - obviously pronounced "licks nuts."
  • Hmm... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Paradoxish (545066) <glegeza.simparadox@com> on Tuesday January 08, 2002 @11:57PM (#2807782) Homepage Journal
    The design is nice and it definetly has good hardware (for a PDA), but there's always the issue of compatibility. I love Linux. It's my preferred operating system, but while the OS can do everything (and a whole lot more) than Windows OS, it can't run as many things. That's important in the handheld market as well. PDAs are expensive and to be worth that expense they have to serve a greater purpose than as a glorified organizer.

    This is a big reason why I'm still so obsessed with PalmOS. The amount of software available for it is staggering and a good portion is free (it's also a good, fairly fast OS). Unfortunetly, the hardware it runs on generally isn't that powerful and most Palm devices aren't quite a step in the "handheld computer" direction. And since Linux doesn't seem to be making its way into the mainstream PDA market I somehow doubt that it'll ever get the amount of programs it deserves...
    • And since Linux doesn't seem to be making its way into the mainstream PDA market I somehow doubt that it'll ever get the amount of programs it deserves...

      Any Linux PDA, though, has the entire OpenSource/GPL universe to draw applications from if the device itself is capable of running them hardware-wise. While the PalmOS does have many purpous built applications for it - I woulden't want to program that thing with it's 64K barriers and non POSIX 'operating system.' As applications for PDA's mature, then Linux becomes a great choice, not for the 'address book/organiser' of tomorrow but for the database connected point of sale sytem that can only be now dreamed about.
      • Re:Hmm... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by pi_rules (123171)
        Any Linux PDA, though, has the entire OpenSource/GPL universe to draw applications from if the device itself is capable of running them hardware-wise. While the PalmOS does have many purpous built applications for it - I woulden't want to program that thing with it's 64K barriers and non POSIX 'operating system.' As applications for PDA's mature, then Linux becomes a great choice, not for the 'address book/organiser' of tomorrow but for the database connected point of sale sytem that can only be now dreamed about.

        I don't see how the majority of X11 applications would ever run on one of these things to tell you the truth. Ever tried X in 640x480 with most applications? They're built by developers for developers. Developers that run in 1280x1024 mode all day long. Even at 1024x768 on my laptop I frequently find applications spilling over the edges of my screen. As far as console applications go I wouldn't see them as -ever- being useful on such a thing. I just can't fathom a useful console application on a handheld device -- too cumbersome.

        The PalmOS limit of 64k data chunks (which can be worked around) really isn't all that bad if you ask me. I've written a bit of PalmOS code now and to tell you the truth I really like it. I'm only moderately annoyoned that things like sprintf() are renamed to StrPrintF() and such but there's a good reason for them doing this -- a standard C library is just a bit overkill for such a little device with applications that are intended to be small.

        I couldn't care less about POSIX compliance on one of these things either. The majority of things defined in POSIX would be entirely non-existent on such a device IMHO.

        I, and I would assume most developers, have very little qualms with an embedded device such as a PDA requireing you to re-learn some very basic things. All in all it takes less than an hour.

        Besides that, most applications (well, the rinky-dink ones) are only ever tested on the x86 platform. Simply switching to a new architecuture and re-compiling is quite likely going to break things as some developers aren't always aware of little-endian vs bid-ending or that 'int' might not always be the size they expected.
        • Your right - I don't think we'll ever get a decent terminal application, or a word processor for a PDA - It would suck. The types of applications that would be good for a powerful Linux PDA would be things like car license database for bicycle police, or a map of the entire USA for hikers.

          Palms are great - Cool small-apps on a functional device and a Linux PDA will never replace a small and efficient Palm style PDA. But they do have a nich to fill: Case in point, one of my customers would like to his workers to do Job costing in the field. Palm deceives don't have enough memory and I'm too lazy to work around the 64K barriers. WinCE devices are too flaky - they crash way too often. Symbian is cool, but you can't buy Revos anymore. Linux based Sharp looks to us to be a good development platform and were really looking forward to getting things up and running.
    • Re:Hmm... (Score:2, Interesting)

      Compatibility? You mean like trying to buy a keyboard to fit a Clie? (if you find one, please pick me up a copy).

      I would argue that PDA's do best as organizers, and that a large portion of Palm's success in the low-cost organizer market is staying focused and realizing that a personal assistant doesn't need to play Quake. Certainly, mapping software, mail updates, spreadsheet programs, and word processors are all needed on a PDA, all of which wouldn't be hard to port to the portable. But those are really above and beyond what you need a Palm for - staying organized. Likewise, any software that was critical to your business would be much easier (and cheaper) to port to an open (or mostly open) linux platform than to try and code on a closed proprietary box. All of the intriguing point-of-sale and data gathering uses for PDA's would be best served on this platform.

      I'm not convinced that most people download or buy very many applications for their handhelds. Many seem to buy it as one complete package. Does anyone have any hard data on this?
      • I'm not convinced that most people download or buy very many applications for their handhelds. Many seem to buy it as one complete package. Does anyone have any hard data on this?

        I don't have any actual hard data, but I can say from experience that I know a large number of people who do download many applications for their palm pilot. You'd be surprised by the variety of people who like to expand upon these things. It's also a very big point salesmen make when pushing them.

        "Well, sir, you know that this PDA uses the PalmOS, which has thousands of applications? As a matter of fact, you can go to [insert palm site] and download games, better organization software, and lots of other stuff."

        My father has a palm pilot and uses it as much at home and on the road as he does at the office. He uses Avantgo and mapquest to get directions, I've caught him playing games on it more than once, and he uses it for organizing his day and keeping track of some minor business expenses. These things have a huge number of uses and that is their appeal. As a college student I still prefer my good old laptop for note taking and other activities, but I have a number of friends who swear by their PDAs and can write abbreviated notes on them as fast (if not faster) as I can type.

        In high school (a measly year and a half ago for me) I knew at least ten people who were happy using their Palm pilots soley as a glorified calculator, assignment tracker, and game machine. To be totally honest, I don't think WinCE machines have quite as many uses. I constantly hear people say that WinCE devices are "almost real handheld computers!" but Palms are better because "they stay focused as organizers". And yet from my considerable experience I've found that less people use their Pocket PCs for very interesting purposes.
    • I love Linux. It's my preferred operating system, but while the OS can do everything (and a whole lot more) than Windows OS, it can't run as many things.


      Well, that issue applies to every PDA out there. Even if you have binary compatibility, you still have to deal with the hardware and peripheral limitations. The Palm machines of course were not as developed at launch as they are today. You need popularity to get apps (See chicken and egg.)

      I have an Agenda Vr3. Though to some its already dead, app-wise it is amazing. I can telnet to it, run x11 apps on it or from it, and can program on its teeny-weenie bash prompt.

      Linux is great for these things. Its not hard to put a little launcher on an x11 or framebuffer device that could start Mozilla, Balsa, Abiword, Gnome-PIM, or any other reasonable productivity app.

      Its not like people choose Palm because it can run Ms Word in a true-color 1280x1024 display...
    • I completely agree. My personal feelings twards this are that if linux PDAs are going to catch on then there needs to be a standard, simply put, they need to all use the same gui implimentation (such as Xfree), all use the same style of interface (QT for example). and some kind of common platform type (arm, etc) otherwise they loose one of the best features of the palms, the ability to beam a program from one pda to another.

      But I digress...
  • Pronounced (Score:5, Funny)

    by tunah (530328) <<moc.puyark> <ta> <mas>> on Tuesday January 08, 2002 @11:58PM (#2807785) Homepage
    It is pronounced Lin(ux) Attacks!
  • Linux: a thing that is used on a very few desktop computers.

    It is used on a lot of: servers and back-endy type things that very few consumers use.

    So here comes this Linux PDA. Okay, that's cool. Proof of concept, etc. But where do we go from here?

    Most people use their PDA with their desktops.

    If the Linux PDA bundles mostly Win software, it won't encourage puchase by Linux-desktop users (a small market).

    If the PDA bundles mostly Win software, it won't encourage purchase by Win desktop users (a huge market).

    It can do a combo, but it's a PDA. It has limited space, and if it wants to compete in the PDA market it had better have the same bells and whistles as your average Palm or Handspring with a proprietary OS on it. So, it can't have a 50/50 balance.

    It has to pick one, Linux or Windows?

    I think Linux PDA's need to be Win desktop compatible. This will introduce Linux by the back-door to many consumers, while maintaining a competitive product!

    The only worry is in the minds of Linux purists, who will feel underrepresented here. However, they are (from a marketing perspective) irrelevant.

    Anyone who actually wants to make money on Linux will be thrilled to see it in small appliances and PDAs like this one.

    • What are you talking about? As long as it syncs with windows, peopel will buy it. As long as it has OSS sync software, Linux users will buy it.

      BTW, I have an Agenda, and it does everything a Palm does. I barely hook it up to my desktop. Not because it is difficult to do, but because there is a lack of need. Every couple weeks I back it up and rsync it. I worte a quickie script that will backup everything, and I only need to type in one command (which has since been bound to a keystroke in Sawfish).
    • You make a valid point, but there's a reason Linux is loved by (most) people who use it. It's a fast, stable operating system with generally low requirements. That makes it perfect for the PDA market. Remember: Linux purists are going to love seeing it on a PDA, but the average consumer won't what it runs as long as it meets his needs. This is a lot different from the desktop computer market, where Joe consumer expects to see a Windows-like environment.

      PDA's and other devices really are a great use for Linux. As long as the lack-of-software hurdle can be overcome I think that this is a great way for Linux to break into the mainstream.
    • It can do a combo, but it's a PDA. It has limited space, and if it wants to compete in the PDA market it had better have the same bells and whistles as your average Palm or Handspring with a proprietary OS on it. So, it can't have a 50/50 balance.

      It has to pick one, Linux or Windows?

      You're right - its a PDA. Not a desktop. It has very little to do with Linux or Windows software. It has a LOT more to do with the ability to sync data and use various data types. A PDA is an extension. It allows you to access data away from the desktop.

      To access this data, it must be able to sync (wireless access, etc. are nice bonus features). Windows users need a good desktop application. They'll need conduits for, as an example, Outlook (which seems to be provided). Linux folk might appreciate "Hey guys - here's some desktop software and some conduits for KPilot ang GnomePilot." But they'll much more appreciate "Hey guys - here's how our PDA talks and these are the internal application's data structures."

      Not enough space to cram all that in? Hardly. A single CDROM is plenty large for all this. And then there's the net.

      The PDA itself may need the bells and whistles. But then its all about the PDA itself and what its going to do with the data once its managed to get a hold of it. And at that point, where the data came from (Windows, Linux, MacOS, biological entity, etc) is a moot point.

      • You're right - its a PDA. Not a desktop. It has very little to do with Linux or Windows software. It has a LOT more to do with the ability to sync data and use various data types. A PDA is an extension. It allows you to access data away from the desktop.

        I've had a WinCE 2.11 device and a Palm OS 4.0 device (I don't even remember what drawer I stashed my Casio in once I got my M115). I rarely synced either of them with my computer.

        Frankly, computer PIMs suck, it was always easier to get the data on my handheld. Of course, I'm not a business user, so I don't have tons of shared schedules in Outlook that I need to carry with me.

        Between Best Buy, Franklin-Covey, and Circuit City, all the people at the handheld counters have told me the backup card for the new Palms has sold the best. Why would you need a backup card on a device that backs up when it syncs? Like I said, a lot of people never even hook their Palm to their computers.

        The only compelling reason I ever had to sync was AvantGo.



        • Frankly, computer PIMs suck, it was always easier to get the data on my handheld. Of course, I'm not a business user, so I don't have tons of shared schedules in Outlook that I need to carry with me.


          When I first got my PalmPro, and was forced to use an Exchange client, syncing with Outlook was a great feature (even if I had to pay extra for it). For example, I would get an email announcing a meeting (dunno why it was never an invitation). I could drag that email to my calender and generate an appointment. The note had the text of the email. A quick sync and I had it on my palm. Having that text available proved usefull a number of times (when if I had done it by hand, I certainly wouldn't have included full text).


          Having said that, these days I mostly sync to the desktop simply to back up my device. I can see why a backup cartridge would be popular (considerably more portable than even the lightest laptop).

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Cost-factor? It doesn't cost the developer anything to put a Linux os on the PDA, whereas you need to buy a license if you go with Windows. On the end-user side, most people don't care what OS is on it, so long as they can sync it with their data on Win9x.
      • It doesn't cost the developer anything to put a Linux OS on a PDA. (Basically) true, but can anyone who is in the know give a rough idea of the cost factor? I'm just curious how much Palm and M$ charge to license their OS's. If a Linux based PDA is a solely financial decision, the savings will have to be pretty substantial.

        They have to offset other higher costs of marketing/advertising a new brand to fight two or three really well entrenched competitors. Smaller mfrs also pay more for components and assembly.

        Is the Linux PDA mostly a financial choice, or a quality choice for the various companies? In Sharp's case, it seems to be tech/quality; they already own a very successful PDA OS and brand.

        Whatever the reason, I still want one. And I'd kill for one in a half VGA clam-shell with a good keyboard like my Hitachi! (Damn WinCe)
    • Why have a Linux PDA? Because there are lots of Linux and X11 libraries out there that lets you write great handheld apps and connect well to all those corporate servers, because the development tools on Linux are great, and because Linux is a powerful operating system that runs well even on "limited" hardware like a 200MHz ARM with 32M of RAM. And, as a company or user, you don't have to worry about whether some MS strategist decides to take your OS in a direction you don't like: you have the sources and you decide how your product evolves.
  • Oh, wait, I still don't need a PDA, and neither does 75% of the planet... But with that out of the way, it looks cool, seems like a nice PDA, and will show the ordinary user Linux IS just as good, if not better. I wish there were a few distro's that were that easy to use for the novice, and no Mandrake is still not there. When Shit Just Works, and theres no fussing about for sound (mostly done) printing(also mostly done), and just plain accounting for the average StupidUser. I know this has all been said before, and often. Theres a reason for that. But now thanks to more and more cool little embedded devices like this one, maybe I can get some fsckn' Linux coverage on TechTV...
    • You must be high. Quote "When Shit Just Works, and theres no fussing about for sound (mostly done) printing(also mostly done), and just plain accounting for the average StupidUser"

      Windows still can't do this for 100% of users. Actually your statement sums up windows to a T.
      • You're right. Not every single user of windows xp has shit just working. But the number is far far less than the number of linux users. No, I'm not saying linux sux, I'm just saying it's not quite to the point where you can actually get away with switching windows and linux on the common consumers machine. Notice I compare only against XP, the 9x series had only slightly better hardware support than the red hat's and mandrake's of today. Of course these are all only my opinions. All in all, I'm just saying that getting linux and open source stuff in general out to the public in a form they can understand, can only be a good thing. Or not, it's not like I actually know what I'm talking about.
  • LINATX? (Score:3, Redundant)

    by Dr. Awktagon (233360) on Wednesday January 09, 2002 @12:03AM (#2807796) Homepage
    Sometimes you think, marketing departments are useless, then you see something like that...........
    • What we need now is some wave files to be sent around the net:

      "Hello my name is Linus Torvalds, and I pronounce lin@x, lin@x"

      That should settle any pronounciation disputes.

    • by PD (9577)
      I heard that we narrowly missed TWA being turned into TW@. Huh huh. He said TW@.
    • LINATX? (Score:4, Redundant)

      No, if you want redundant, there was a program on here in NZ called backch@t.

  • by josh crawley (537561) on Wednesday January 09, 2002 @12:15AM (#2807833)
    I've seen enough about this Linux PDA tripe. Big deal they are running a modified version of Linux. I'd rather see propertiary tight code on a upgradable eeprom than a larger OS designed FOR desktop/tower/laptop computers.
    All I would ask is for OPEN STANDARDS to connect the computer to the pda, wether that be mac or pc. USB would probably be the way to go, since it's on the hardware architecure of both platforms.
    I wouldnt mind PAYING for a devel kit for this pda if was at a decent price. They gotta make money somehow, and the devel kit isnt a bad idea, but just as long as they don't go the MS way of Wince.. I mean WinCE :-) No Microsoft, we aren't going to pay a 1000$ for your "WinCE"ing devel kit.

    Josh Crawley
    • Point missed (Score:2, Insightful)

      by CodingFiend (236675)
      MS WinCE dev kit is free.

      http://www.microsoft.com/mobile/downloads/emvt30 .a sp

      You may be talking about the platform builder, which lets you custom design a version of CE for your specific hardware.
      • Re:Point missed (Score:2, Interesting)

        by josh crawley (537561)
        Thanks for the link, but Boo's to MS because the data sheet is non-existant and the download isn't there (after registering bogus passport crap). Don't know if it's me. I just get thier bloated 404 file not found.

        Josh Crawley

        btw: I had to get MS out of Hosts cause of the link :-P Back in it goes....
    • Actually, dude, Linux was designed originally for hardware which was much LESS powerful than the current crop of handheld processors. Remember the 386?
      • First off, I'm not a Dude. Second, Yes I do remember the 80386, 80286, 8086, and even older computers quite well.

        If my memory serves me right, the Linux Kernel was created at about '92, and the 80386 was created at about '85 with mHz speeds rating 12.5 and 15, ranging up to 33. The 486 was released in '89, the major difference is that the 486 has the FPU. Torvalds wanted to run his kernel/OS on older CPU's. Hence why we still use 386 basic kernels (so we don't bump into non-implemented instructions like sse or 3d now).

        Next, gui processing takes a toll of cpu. Hopefully, they implemented a gfx chip that does hardware windowing.

        Well, have you ever used a TI-86? That's what I've used as a pda/handheld cpu. It's a Z80 (very supported) with rom calls to simplify programming. I've made math apps and downloaded Full Elemental Chart programs with electron shell energy levels. I played Mario and like games with sound on it. And all the programs are free. It may have 80KB but that's plenty for me.

        Josh Crawley
    • I'd rather see propertiary tight code on a upgradable eeprom than a larger OS designed FOR desktop/tower/laptop computers.

      Tight code is not an inherent property of proprietary code, and being proprietary, how can you tell if it's well written? An OS is more than just the kernel. Linux, the kernel, was originally written for the 386 (as another poster mentioned). IIRC the 386 that I had ran at 12MHz, much slower than this 206 MHz StrongARM.

      I'm sure that the kernel runs like a champ on the processor. It's the bundled apps that may slow things down, it doesn't matter if you write for WinCE, Linux, BeOS, or Palm, if you can't write good embedded code, you can't write good embedded code.

      • "Tight code is not an inherent property of proprietary code, and being proprietary, how can you tell if it's well written?"

        Very true, but you fail to see the last 2 VERY important words that I included: "upgradable eeprom". I would expect to use standard modules in dips or the like. If you wanted, you could dump the eeprom with the os and dissassemble it, as ARM instruction set is open. I would expect nothing less than tight asm code coming from a pda os. A casual user wouldn't do this, but we probably would. Swap a chip, change the OS

        If you ever do asm programming, you can feel if code was generated or actually written. Of course, you can always look at the internal make stamp :-) Reverse engineering of software apps readily shows this time and time again. VB isn't even worth the effort, as even the "compiled" code is nothing but slightly compressed OBJ and FRM code with 1 asm code to JMP to the VB dll. MASM does weird stuff if you use the instructions they provide, as it cannot seem to assemble JMP and JMP-like instructions correctly (it assumes that you always want a JMP or a JMP "boolean type". I usually use NASM and TASM.
    • larger OS designed FOR desktop/tower/laptop computers.

      These PDAs are a lot more powerful than the "desktop/tower/laptop" computers that Linux was originally designed for. KDE and Gnome may eat up oodles of memory, but Linux and X11 don't if you configure them right.

      I'd rather see propertiary tight code on a upgradable eeprom

      You mean like the PalmOS mess? It's tight alright, but it doesn't conform to any standards, and it's very limited. Or as "tight" as PocketPC, which manages to be slower than Linux even though it is less functional?

      And along with proprietary operating systems come proprietary corporate strategies. Just look at what happened to the developers who foolishly bet on BeOS or NeXTStep-on-Intel. Even when a company is successful, like Microsoft, their changing product plans and strategies keep causing problems for developers.

  • by Bo Vandenberg (247590) on Wednesday January 09, 2002 @12:22AM (#2807848)
    I have desktop machines at work that are less useful than my palm. A better link between PDA and Desktop could make an average PDA great.

    PDA friendly desktop apps, with a linux standard could be a really good thing :).

    bo
  • by Nathdot (465087) on Wednesday January 09, 2002 @12:25AM (#2807857)
    This new naming convention so@nds like q@ite a breakthr@

    :)

    N@thdot
  • What's the point? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Burgundy Advocate (313960) on Wednesday January 09, 2002 @12:31AM (#2807882) Homepage
    Sure, linux is great. We all love linux. Rah.

    But honestly -- both Palm and PocketPC are so far ahead of linux in the palmtop area it's not even funny! I mean, they actually have applications! Ones that work... and well!

    So my question is why design and build something that only a few geeks will want... and even then, just because of the "hey, it runs linux" factor?

    I guess it's the same reason that GNOME and KDE don't use each other's code -- they don't want to admit that the other might be better in some areas.
    • >>So my question is why design and build something that only a few geeks will want... and even then, just because of the "hey, it runs linux" factor?

      how about because a company wants to save money by not paying palm or microsoft for licensing.
    • That I have a choice of HOW, not just what, I want to run. I was thinking like you until I bought me an ipaq. After putting Linux on it, I have falling in love with it. I have made it my way. The ease of being about to take the knowledge of your desktop and apply it to your PDA is one of the best things in the world. I can't express how useful it is to be able to ssh into your PDA.

      Please don't get me wrong I use to have a plam and I have used the cluster fuck they call CE (you're one letter off billy). They both suck.
    • Nice troll. But if you ever go to the trouble to actually compile Gnome or KDE you will be astounded by how many libraries they have in common. And *DUH* once you get to the widget level and above they have no decent commonalities. Qt and gtk+ are different. And they are written in different languages.

      And you have to be kidding. If the device runs Linux, there are a *ton* of applications that run on that platform. People have been writing Unix apps for about 30 years-- many of which compile on Linux. Not to mention that it would allow us to run scripting languages like Perl on our PDAs, or to program in C for the platform without having to learn new OS calls and get proprietary SDKs. That amounts to an infinite number of potential applications-- all without further licensing or expense constraints.

      So my question is, why design and build the Lamborghini, when you will only be able to sell it to a few rich folks? Could it be because the revenues generated are expected to exceed the costs to produce? And isn't that, by definition, a measure of success for business?
  • by veggiespam (5283) on Wednesday January 09, 2002 @12:35AM (#2807894)
    there is a serious problem with royal and customer support not to mention their inability to write software. anyone who has purchased a davinci can attest to this. royal's sync program barely worked on windows 95/98 and failed to work on windows nt only giving uses duplicate records on the pda and the sync'd desktop with every docking. and now, they're telling us that this linux pda will work with linux and windows? they couldn't get their own custom pda to work with their custom sync software. and to think there was actually a small cut following.

    i'm still waiting for the promised nt support on my davinci. any day now.
  • linux in pda's (Score:3, Redundant)

    by GoatPigSheep (525460) on Wednesday January 09, 2002 @12:36AM (#2807895) Homepage Journal
    As much as I like linux, I am curious what advantages does it have being used in a pda besides the 'moral' ones of being open-source and such. I mean wince and palmOS have been around a while, and at least palmOS seems to do the job right. I know linux on a pda would make porting easier but do people really want straight ports of desktop applications to a pda? Running on a 240 x 320 res screen? Although ports of software such as quake to linux pda's are cool there isn't much point aside from the 'coolness' factor.
    • Firstly, I agree that Linux on a handheld seems like a rather dubious project for a business to jump into. I'm all for the community playing around with this stuff for fun, but high-profile business failures of this nature are no good for Linux. And considering the past Linux PDAs, I don't have much faith in the future of this one.

      I use a PalmOS handheld, and I love it. Granted, I really hate shareware, but there's some great software out there, and I have no qualms about paying for it if it's good. Unlike with my PC, I don't have the motivation to dink with source for my handheld. I don't have the interest or the time. I just want to store my appointments, surf my web cache in between classes, and not worry about it.

      However! As I said above, experimenting by the user community is a Good Thing(tm). You say there "isn't much point aside from the 'coolness' factor." Well, that is the point. I think it's pretty damn cool to run Quake on a handheld. I'm all for it when people port software to new/interesting platforms. PsiLinux anyone? QNX on an iPaq? Generally not particularly useful, but they are cool projects, and that's the source of their value (such as it is, depending on your point of view).

    • Umm... let's see..

      I'd love to:

      openssh
      shell script
      perl script
      any number of linux utils (awk, find, less, etc.)
      emacs
      vi!
      gcc!!
      nmap
      netcat
      etc.
      etc.

      from my PDA... I don't think I'll ever be able to do any of those things with winCE or PalmOS.

      Screw the GUI apps.. I'd run a linux PDA for the same reason as I run my servers/development environment... I don't run linux as a desktop and I wouldn't expect my linux PDA to be a desktop. The GUI apps are nice but I wouldn't rely on it.
      • I don't expect PDAs to be desktops. But they aren't servers or development machines either. Can you explain what you would use gcc on a handheld for? (since that one has the most exclamation points, I'm assuming that's your most-wanted app.) And IMHO, vi is really designed for a full size keyboard, not a PDA keyboard. If you can't be productive and quick on the keyboard in vi, what's the point?
        • Actually since vi does not rely on control or ALT keys it would probably be pretty productive on a palm.
          • Re:linux in pda's (Score:2, Informative)

            by hawkfan (11267)
            I use my Palm V regularly as a serial terminal for routers and headless machines. I've found, of all things, ed, to be the most usable editor in this environment.

            I'm quite serious, try it sometime.
            • hawkfan, you wrote: "I use my Palm V regularly as a serial terminal for routers and headless machines. I've found, of all things, ed, to be the most usable editor in this environment."

              This is a serious question :)

              What do you use to input text?!

              I know people use their Palms as serial terminals, which is neat just by itself. But ... I hope you have one of the available keyboards or something. I can't imagine entering much text via Graffiti, at least for sysadmin work. I like Graffiti pretty well even, but it does have a lot of built-in tedium from backspacing due to misrecognized characters, at least for me.

              If you're using Graffiti, how many characters at a time are you using it for?! I hope you're not writing long scripts that way :)

              timothy

              • I'm a sysadmin, and actually worked an entire day once dialed up from my cell phone with my Palm. I was using Mutt at the time, as well as another IMAP based Palm client (name escapes me). The IMAP was too slow at downloading the headers on my huge mailbox at 19.2, so I switched to mutt on the sun box via telnet. I was able to do everything I would normally do as a sysadmin (even using a VNC client to access X apps on my desktop linux box at work!), however it was all soooooo slow using only graffiti. Vi DOES suck with Graffiti, no doubt about it.
                While a pen based system and cell phone is great to have when oncall and you're out and don't want to carry much, I won't buy another PDA until I get one with a keyboard (maybe the Sharp?). BTW, I looked at the Palm keyboards around that time, but they were basically useless to me as they used the serial port, so you couldn't be online and use thekeyboard at the same time.
              • I'm using the stylus and Graffiti for input. Granted they're not complicated scripts, just small edits to config files so I can get them back online and get in via a real terminal.

                5-10 line changes are a breeze, if you know ed. Longer than that It's probably worth lugging a 20lb term in there or stringing more cat5 along. For a quick look however, the minimalist ed means fewer strokes and no screen updates. It's saved me hours in the shit and strokes on my soon to be out of warranty Palm.
        • I don't expect PDAs to be desktops. But they aren't servers or development machines either

          Why not? I'd like to have the ability to keep my code, apache, etc. on my PDA and keep it with me between work/home. I could ssh into it from my desktop over a wireless network connection and do my business.

          I think the main problem here is peoples limited imagination.
        • Can you explain what you would use gcc on a handheld for?

          http://freshmeat.net
          • A gcc cross compiler, like the one that is used by Palm, would work equally well. I am still not convinced of the value of this.
            • A gcc cross compiler, like the one that is used by Palm, would work equally well. I am still not convinced of the value of this.

              Only because you're trying so hard not to be. Bottom line, a PDA running Linux is almost infinitly more flexible than a PDA running an alternative OS. If you can't see that, then... well.. run and be happy with your wince or palm OS.
    • The big thing of course is that it's cheaper. WinCE and palmOS cost something like $10-$15 per unit. This adds up if you sell very many thousands of units.

      Face it, most users don't even know what an OS is could care less what OS runs their PDA so long as it does what they want. This PDA is especially nice because it comes with windows apps for your desktop so the PDA and desktop can communicate.

  • All I really need is OpenSSH or another SSH2 client and a wireless internet connection (either directly or through my cell phone). Does this do that easily? Is there another PDA or PDA-like device that does it better?

    The Nokia Communicator looks like my ideal device but I don't know that there is an SSH2 client for it and they can't sell it in the USA anyway.
    • There is currently one compact flash based 802.11b nic out there, and it's made by Symbol Technologies. As far as I know it's the only way to keep your PDA compact and have LAN connectivity.

      [palmos/pocketpc rant]At first these things only worked on PocketPC but Handera technologies has just released a driver for PalmOS, though unfortunately the Handera 330 is the only PalmOS device with a compact flash slot. Palm really needs to do something about this and their tardiness in getting faster hardware to market. Their secure digital connector doesn't seem to be going anywhere and the current 200Mhz PocketPCs will be using 300-400Mhz Intel made StrongARM processors next year while Motorla won't have it's 200Mhz StrongARM processors ready till q3 2002. I know Palm likes Motorola but they have to ditch them if they can't keep up, the Intel processors are also PalmOS 5 compatible.[/rant]

      Anywho, Symbol has been very nice in that they have a developer kit for OEM manufacturers to develop drivers for their hardware and it's available here. [symbol.com] This Linux PDA company should invest what is relatively a couple bucks in the kit and develop drivers, Symbol has done a good part of the work already and being wirless capable would increase geek appeal, which seems to be a considerable part of the market for this thing. Imagine walking around the house and using your PDA as a remote for everything, especially for queueing up mp3s, obsessively checking email, controlling x10 devices via a server, starting your car, etc.. A wireless PDA adds a lot of potential to the geek dream of building a truly networked, automated household.
  • by clump (60191) on Wednesday January 09, 2002 @12:49AM (#2807930)
    Bill Kendrik, the submitter, is quite amazing all by himself. If you have an Agenda Vr3 Linux handheld, you are quite familiar with his Aliens [newbreedsoftware.com] game, among others.

    He kept on top of the Agenda like glue, and develops amazing apps and games for free. I know I am just pontificating, but its guys like this that make Linux so cool.
  • The interface reminds me of my favorite PalmOS "Applications" button (the little home symbol) replacement, Launch 'Em [synsolutions.com]. It is a really nice setup actually. Also, my vote is for "lin-ax" as the pronunciation. :)
  • by isaac (2852) on Wednesday January 09, 2002 @12:54AM (#2807945)
    If I was Linus Torvalds, I'd be really interested in finding out whether this device sucks or not - because if it does, I wouldn't want a name so similar to Linux(TM) on it.

    90% of PDA platforms suck, just like 90% of anything else, so there's a pretty good chance this thing is just going to be another high-profile PDA flop. At least G.Mate (Yopy), VTech (Helio), and Agenda had the decency not to try and use the Linux name to brand their products. If I were Linus, I might encourage Royal to do the same. And I'd royally smack up those LinuxDA fools.

    -Isaac
  • Compared to the Zaurus, this PDA looks like it wins in the user interface department. Nice icons, simple graphics, and no attempt at fake buttony looking widgets. The screen space on a PDA is so tiny, why waste it by drawing drop shadows and raised lines around buttons, as if on a desktop?

    The Zaurus seems to win overall based on its features, but this one seems to have made some good decisions, too. Is that a jog dial on the left side?
  • I hope it's better than the Davinci DV-3 I have. It can't keep correct time(which renders so many features useless), the to-do list only will show tasks checked as done, and the cursive handwriting system is an absolute joke.
  • by jerryasher (151512) on Wednesday January 09, 2002 @01:38AM (#2808052)
    lin-at-x => linatix => lunatics!
  • wow (Score:3, Funny)

    by Iamthefallen (523816) <Gmail name: Iamthefallen> on Wednesday January 09, 2002 @01:42AM (#2808059) Homepage Journal

    Nice, but I'm holding out for the 1337 h4x0r 1i|\|@>< model.

    It's a sad day when marketing droids are trying to be fashionably 1337.

  • Since this pda is based on linux arent they supposed to share the source code to it? If so is the source code to this pda available anywhere?
  • by colmore (56499) on Wednesday January 09, 2002 @02:11AM (#2808110) Journal
    something noone has commented on just yet: did you get a look at that keyboard? Judging from the picture (and probably a sentence that i'm not seeing on my second read-through) there is a built in *physical* qwerty keyboard that you can access by expanding the PDA Transformers-style. Can anyone else say bad-ass? This feature single handedly makes this the best PDA hardware on the market.

    Now as to software concerns: this is a first-gen product. I know it will be competing with third and fourth gen products from Microsoft and Palm, but we should also remember that immediately after release, the software will undergo *rapid* improvement.

    it looks like the standard PDA apps will be working out of the box, and how many part time hackers will be jumping to work on ports? I can't wait for portable nethack. (and yes i know it already exists)

    there are potential problems: it sounds like it takes a few seconds to power-up and boot. that's a big no-no, unless there's a very good standby mode. The name is also a mistake. "Linux" is a scary thing to most consumers, and any reference to it in the name is a marketing mistake. The interface should hide the nerdier aspects of the system completely, it worried me to see a terminal window in the review. Not that the technical side of things should be inaccessible, it just shouldn't be required for anything outside of development or hard-core tweaking.

    all in all, i want one, and at $300, it will be the cheapest 200mhz, 64mbit PDA out there. Sounds like a winner.
    • never mind, i'm an idiot. in my sleepless fog, i posted in the wrong open window. one of the hazards of late-night multitasking, i suppose. don't waste your mod points.
    • Transformers-style keyboard?
      I can't see it but it's a nice idea, the single most irritating thing about the Zaurus seems to be that the keyboard forces you to use the screen in portrait mode which makes the linux console pretty hard to use (see www.infosync.no). Command-line tools are very portable, but not portable enough to fit in less than 40 characters.
      The obviuos solution to this would be to hide the keyboard underneath and drag it out on one side, like the "Lin@x" suggests. Though I'd rather have the keyboard as an add-on with a simple way to attach it underneath the PDA if you wanted it.
  • Not only are these Linux handhelds competiting with the Palms and Pocket PC's, but they're competiting with each other. What are you going to do when you want applications? Is anybody going to support each of these platforms? Don't get me wrong, I like the options available. But I kinda hope in the 2nd generation (or 3rd if you count the Agenda as 1st gen) there are some standards (QTopia vs. X Window System vs. microWindows).
  • by drodver (410899)
    I don't know if it is technically sound but it does look damn sexy!
  • Linux is certainly a great OS and the idea of a Linux PDA is quite appealing. But it would be far more appealing if only I could finally find one in the shops in Austria, where I live.
    So far I've heard many annoucements, but what really counts for me is, when will I finally be able to buy one?
  • Oh, God, another non-standard window system. What good is it if all these PDAs run Linux when you can't run the same GUI apps on them? Why do people keep doing this? A 200MHz ARM is 10x as fast as the high-end workstations X11 was developed for, and it runs fine on PDAs.
    • Oh, God, another non-standard window system.


      I wondered about that too. The base article says that this device and the Agenda are owned by the same company. But, the link to the linuxdevices article [linuxdevices.com] says the Royal Lin@x includes software derived from Century Embedded Software's PIXIL PDA environment. Meanwhile I am pretty sure the Agenda uses X Windows.

  • In the past time time I've read the PR for at least a dozen Linux PDA's and none of them had ever made the way to the stores (at least in Germany). I stopped waiting for the Yopy already, and I'm waiting for the Zaurus (available in Europe & available as a Consumer Product) now.

    This isn't leading to anything. In the first place, they're using similar hardware (I bet ARM has a reference PDA design for download). On the other hand everyone is brewing their own mix of a more of less current linux kernel, with custom adaptions to the target platform and a GUI layer that is sufficient to run demos.

    Given that half of these designs are eventually be sold one day, I bet that writing software for a Linux PDA will mean port this software to at least 6 different {GUI-API, libc-version, FHS}.

    The problem is: A Linux PDA may have great hack-value, but commercial success will hang on the fact, that 3rd-party apps are "ready to run" for the standard guys & gals, i.e. you install a binary & it runs. It don't see this with a situation where everyone's making up their own PDA.

    My suggestion:

    The companies who wish to sell Linux PDA's should develop a common standard, a common distribution (or simply they could d'accord on Midori) and common hardware requirements (Flashable-ROM for example). This "standard PDA-GNU-Linux-Gestalt" has not to be the optimum (unless you hack it), it has to be usable and deterministic.

  • Am I the only geek left who thinks that a PDA requires a keyboard? One of the greatest strengths of Linux vs. Windoze is that it allows for the use of text commands.

    I'm an embedded systems programmer, and one of the things I'd really like my PDA to do is to be able to carry my code with me when going to meetings, etc. I can sort of do that now with my HP 200LX, but it's honestly too slow to be able to access the entire 500K of source code my current project entails.

    What I really want is a PDA that's the same size, consumes the same power, has at least the features mine has, and is just plain faster. I'd like a better OS, but I do have access to tons of shareware progs with DOS as an OS. A color screen, touchscreen, and a backlight would all be nifty, but I do just fine without any of those today.

    I really just want a PDA that I can use as if it were a smaller version of my actual computer, and to be able to use it that way, I think it needs a keyboard.

    I'm probably just going to have to buy a used Libretto.



  • Look real close at the blow-up version of the photo. The lettering and icons have no perspective. They're photoshopped onto the image.

    If they're planning to go to market with a device in less than 6 months, don't you think they'de have a REAL photo of it? Mmmhmmm.

    Ahhh, I love the smell vaporware in the morning...

  • Run a Palm emulator under Linux on one of these boxes and get the best of both worlds! I would imagine that since it's ported to the IPAQ it shouldn't be that difficult to get on these damn non-X boxes..

    Here's a link to an older one, hopefully there is something more recent available now.
    http://www.netcologne.de/~nc-metzlema2/arm.html
  • I'm sorry to be bitter but after a hundred "new linux pda" articles, we have yet to see the "this linux pda is the shiznit!" type article from popular media press which details exacty how cool it is and why it is better than palm or wince.

    Bleah. :P
  • does it use Gnome or KDE? :)

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