Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed


Forgot your password?
Handhelds Hardware Agenda Preview 59

Augustus writes " has just posted a preview of one of the new Linux handhelds on the market, the Agenda VR3. Although the product reviewed is only a developer release its a good intro to things to come. If you are a developer the Agenda VR3 is a steal at $179 (plus applicable tax and shipping)." I'm hoping to get my hands on one of these soon as well - looks pretty cool.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted. Agenda Preview

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward
    It's not. It's a seperate daemon that one can check out of AC's CVS repos. hth.
  • Their specs say the Quicksync only works with Windows and Outlook but no mention of anything that will work with Linux!

    What gives?

  • Is that fact you can run X apps on this baby. All in all I think this will be a winner when it comes out. Next week's pay check might go to getting one of the preleases hey why not.
  • A 13-yr-old 1337 h4x0r dropped his wang long enough to post a vicious and scathing remark on today.

    "Linux is for faggots," quoth he. But he didn't stop there. No, he went straight for the jugular. "shut the fuck up you cocksucking zealots," he continued.

    "I'm heartbroken," an anonymous coward told us, "I mean I really didn't know that Linux was for homosexuals. I guess that means I'm denying my true self. I am going to seek counseling and I recommend that other Linux users under the illusion that they are straight do the same."

    The community seems to be in shambles after the devastating revelation. One vendor however, who wishes to remain anonymous for now, is planning on cashing in on this tragedy. "We are marketing a new line of swishy stuffed penguins complete with leather-boy caps, aviator sunglasses, vests and assless pants," their marketing director told us, "We feel that coming out of the closet and going public with this is the best thing the Linux community can do. And if someone can make a few bucks off an otherwise unfortunate situation, well, more power to them. It might as well be us."

  • I dunno... seems like a killer geek device, of course, but it's going to take a *lot* of work to convince me that this is worth it. One of the nice things about (especially) the Palm family is that it avoids the complexity of the desktop entirely, and I'm just not sure it should be put back. Really, why do you Linux on a PDA at all? Software compatibility w/ the desktop, maybe... I could see that. But for the most part PDA's and desktops serve entirely different needs and I think the software should reflect that. (There will always be exceptions to this...)

    I've been wrong before 'tho. Guess I'll wait and see, but for me it's a moot point anyway, as I can't come up with a single justifiable reason to replace my PalmIIIxe right now. It does everything I need it to, and I'd rather hack on my desktop anyway.
  • Where can I find more, please?

  • by domc ( 11897 )
    But can she cook?

  • I've already begun writing and porting some games to the Agenda. So far, Aliens [].

    It's just Xlib, so it'll run on a plain old Linux/Unix box, too.. you'll just need to tilt your head 90 degrees. ;)

  • What does your Agenda do that a PalmOS or WinCE can not do?

    Can I hook my GPS unit to it via serial and plot courses & such?

    if so, i might, if it doeesn't support expansions such as that, then why waste money on something that has been done better already?
  • Remember, the investors were throwing money at any company that could do anything 'linux'.

    the bubble bursted, now you have some palm clone running linux.

    I see the benefits of Palm / WinCE.

    the slogan for this product should be,
    "Why linux? Becasue we can"
    or some such other garbage.

    This was clearly the case of 'use linux because we have to pay for the others'

    It offers NO benefits other beyond the more tested and proven PDA OSes.
  • I thought a requirement for any real-world based linux product was a 4 year trip into 'vapor world', so they would be released into a state of planned obsolecense.
  • And tonight I'll be hacking in some more efficient HWR, that is if someone else doesn't get there first!

    I've had an agenda for weeks and I can't remember the last time I had so much fun with a geeky gadget.

    The thrill is you can build your own distribution from source. You can get in there and contribute. Can't imagine building SuSE or RedHat from scratch now can you? :)
  • The Agenda runs on two AAA's and seems to work
    fine with NiCd, NiMH and rechargable Alkaline
    batteries as well as regular disposable batteries.

    With the latest kernels, I'm seeing about 20 hours
    of actual continuous *use* - or about a month of
    just sitting there in 'hibernate' mode. I'm
    using NiMH's - I don't think it goes as long
    on NiCd's.

    When you wake the beast up from hibernate mode,
    it starts up instantly with all your applications
    still running exactly as they were when you
    turned it putting it into hibernation
    when you don't need it (even for a few minutes)
    will greatly increase the battery life.

    Syncing with your PC drains the batteries pretty
    fast though - something to do with the way the
    serial port is powered. There is currently a
    bug (we think) that causes the batteries to drain
    quickly if you leave it in the 'cradle' - even
    in 'hibernate'...there is hope that this will
    be fixed "Real Soon Now".

    I use rechargable NiMH batteries - so the *cost*
    of batteries isn't really a significant issue.

    One downside is that there is no AC adaptor,
    no 12 volt car adaptor and no battery charger
  • '81 was the year for investors to flood the market with Game consoles. (everyone remember the Colecovision, right?) '84 the year for Semiconductors (Commodore Business Machines stock did so well). '95, the year of the Web Browser. (Mosaic still is cool) '99 the year of the Internet.(, yay!) '02 the year of the All-in-one-home-console. (Goodbye Indrema, I liked you, I really did) '03 is shaping up to be the year of the PDA.
  • When I played with it at CeBIT I noticed two things.

    First of it was a bit too plastic, It felt soggy in my hands. This could of course be because it is a developer release...

    Secondly it really was dog-slow... It toke ages to start a simple application. Anyone knows if this has some likelyhood of improving?

  • OK, I'm a geek. I admit it. My first palm-top was the Atari Portfolio [] (still have it, still works). I've got a Palm, and for times when it's not in my pocket, an OnHandPC [] watch. They all are great for storing all kinds of handy dandy data, like appointments and phone numbers and PINs and such. And they all have the same problem: data entry. On the PoFo I type with my thumbs, on the OnHand it's a little joystick pointer that takes forever, and on Palm it's Graffiti.

    Show me a PIM that lets me enter notes quickly and I'll beat a path to your door. Until then, it doesn't matter whether the PIM is running PalmOS, DIPOS, or VMS - it's just another geek toy, suitable for impressing fellow geeks and inducing glazed eyes in everyone else.

    The remarkable thing about a dancing bear is not how well it dances, but that it dances at all.

  • I don't see this thing as being much more usefull than a palm. But if it had enough RF bandwidth that I could run X clients on another machine and pop the window up in the handheld, not that would be usefull.
  • I have one too. Compared to any Palm device the apps are poor and the speed is TERRIBLE.

    Frankly, I found it painful to use.

    So I took it apart. I'm thinking of nailing it to a wall and using it to run some sort of dedicated app. Maybe recipes in the kitchen or an mp3-control panel.

    I would recommend saving your money.

  • click on it and loose your lunch

    Having seen the goatsex picture, I think it would be quite easy to lose the whole lunchbox in there.


  • This looks quite nice if the mentioned issues can be sorted out (i.e. handwriting recognition, slowness), and if the price will stay the same. Does anyone know about battery life though?
  • On the web site it says in numerous places that the Agenda uses two AAA batteries, but I couldn't find out how long it lasts with those two batteries. I don't imagine more than a few hours or a day at most?

    Maybe someone who owns one of these things could satisfy my curiosity?



    "That explains the milk in the coconuts."
  • Agreed. I can input 25 words a minute with Grafitti. I can't come close to that with any of the other HWR systems I've seen.
  • The biggest problem with the Agenda is the handwriting recognition. It is completely unusable as is.

    Some developers are toying with different HWR systems. Unfortunately, the existing HWR is hard-wired into the X server, and the source for the X server is not available, so no one can hack on it.

    So, if you're willing to telnet to your PDA to get real work done, then it's great. But if you actually want a portable device that can take text input, they've got a ways to go.

  • I don't suppose we could increase the efficiency of the handheld by switching from the miniaturized X to a pure CLI?
  • It dose seem odd that with a OS that has had this much development in embeded devices and mini distros built to run on something as small as a system with 8 mg of ram and a 386 that it takes years to put together a peice of hardware that can take advantage of it.

    but instead they make proto types of devices that cost as much/more as a 33->133mhz lapptop on ebay but dont have half the usfullness.

  • I have seen reports of about 5 Linux handhelds in the last year.

    I have as of yet to see one of these in real life.

    Until I can walk into the local electronics or office supply store and pick one up it's as good as vaporware.

    When is this one or Yopi or the others going to announce a distribution contract with Office Depot, Staples, Future Tronics, hell even RadioShack, I will pay closer attention to what it can do. Because until they can produce them in that kind of bulk I wont be able to afford them.
  • then this is not a good choice? The software is still buggy and the filesystem is not frozen.

    I think I'll wait until there's a Debian version.

    Cav Pilot's Reference Page []
  • So what's the point? Just because it's "designed for Linux"?

    Isnt the point good enough?

  • If you own a Dreamcast, and have used the browser or any online game, then you know how annoying keyboard apps can be. They just suck. Period.

    Without handwriting recognition, you may as well just carry around paper. Anything beyond one or two sentences would just take too long.
  • Who would buy a Palm when you could get one of these?

    Maybe someone who wants handwriting recognition that isn't, and I quote from the article, "nearly useless" at this point.

    also from the article:

    Character recognition is also exceedingly raw, and tapping away at the little on screen keyboard is tedious at best and irritating at worst. Performance is pretty bad...

    Granted, they're working on all those things, but it sounds like at this point that, despite all the Slashdot hype, the unit basically sucks at doing *anything* quickly, reliably, or easily.

  • I have had the chance to try one, but it's still far from an iPAC.

    The software is SLOOOOW, but that can bi fixed. What bothers me more is the design. The plastic looks a bit childish to me, but that is the matter of taste.

    What is more important is, that there are buttons all around the device which are very soft and it's very easy to accidentially push one.

    While the software will definetely get much better (i reckon that the thing is still below v0.2), the current state of the hardware is still preety bad if you ask me. So saying "i'll buy it and update when it's stable" probably isn't a very good idea.

    But what do I care? I already ordered an iPAC :)

  • Vaporware? I think not. Anyone can sign up as a developer. Anyone can purchase the developer edition ($197 after S&H, if memory serves). Just click on the link that says "Devlopers". The hardware is out there. I know, I have one. It hasn't replaced my Palm yet, but I'm still using it. The apps are rough. The UI is rough. The HWI is (as was already said) close to unuseable. What was also said, is that there's a LOT of development still going on - and will continue to go on for quite some time, I'm sure. I ordered mine, and had it less than 3 weeks later, hasn't left my side since. (Any PDA that I can use to troubleshoot a server is too good to let go).
  • now I need to work on my stupid shell tricks to start my work on converting Palm users to soldiers of the revolution.
    really though, given some kind of connectivity, Having Linux on the run just OPENS up a whole world of potential.

    my personal prediction is that we will own the PDA's by the end of this year, by the end of 2002, the desktop is also going to be ours.

    all your platforms are belong to us!!!!

  • Don't think so. Remember, this thing is way ahead of it's time! It's what the modern-day PDA is made of! Wish I knew the name of the manufacturer and where they are today. I wouldn't be surprised if some of their execs are now sitting on the boards of some of these PDA companies.
  • Sorry, I meant 15$
  • Much cooler than Palm or Visor. -ted
  • "Good news for unemployed programmers"

    Im sorry, but I beg to differ. The current "slowdown" in the American economy is taking it's toll on certain areas, but that segment is mostly rich investors that make money on stock speculation. Why the fuss? The reason is the wealthy are the ones with the closest access to the media. Notice people are only alarmed when the wealthy are inconvenienced, not when the janitors, farm workers, and others that are in segments that fluctuate based on the economy are in jeapordy. Programmers are in an employment class that generally doesn't fluctuate based on the current state of the economic continuum. The demand for math/technically oriented individuals, like most programmers, likely will never be satisfied. Those with technical skills usually gravitate to the most prosperous nations. For example, the exodus of highly-skilled Russian scientists to the United States. Unemployed programmers? I doubt it, but look at the media and you would never think otherwise.
  • If you could increase the efficiency of a handheld's input by about a hundredfold, then maybe you'd be on to something with a CLI. Until then we're stuck primarily with pen taps--not particularly effective in your average shell.


  • A PDA, I forgot to say, is a portable digital assistant.
  • This looks pretty neat. I can't wait to get one. I'd say the makers of other PDAs with closed source operating systems are in big, big trouble. Who would buy a Palm when you could get one of these?
  • Now an affordable way to update your skills for what's left of the current job market. Unemployed programmers who had trouble keeping their budget below 100,000 lines of code seem to be the intention of this even if it's not stated.
  • Probably not- that's pretty largish.
  • Clumsy, if you think about it. Only something like a Psion or a WinCE HPC would be really usable in CLI (No keyboard available except that gui alternative on these devices...)
  • The Helio DOES support PocketLinux and so does the iPaq (though that means putting some money into MS' pockets as well in that reagrd). The Helio is $169 at CompUSA right now (Though the info on the PocketLinux site is very sparse, there seems to be some info on the VTech site discussing Linux versions on the Helio.) I'm kind of intrigued by the four options now- do I spend $500 or so on an iPaq, $169 on a Helio, $179 on a developer edition VR3 (Which I've seen- it's got it's upsides and downsides), or approximately $800 on a developer edition Yopy. The Yopy's a hard sell as is the iPaq (As for only 2-3 times that cost, I could get me a laptop that's infinitely more useful than most PDAs for what I need for a computer) but the others, well...
  • I don't have time to hack around so I am forced to sell the developers Agenda model that I have.

    It's the original development version, flashed to the latest kernel and agenda distro.
    In perfect condition, hardly used. Complete with original packaging, cradle, serial cable, headphones and carrying case.
    I will also throw in 10pairs of AAA batteries.
    I'm asking $150US or $225CDN. Buyer to pay shipping from Toronto, Ontario.

    Contact me at if you are interested.
  • I've got an agenda, and here are my thougnts:
    The first thing I thought of on seeing it was the original Star Trek Communicator.
    It is almost as small as a Palm V, and the same weight.
    The PDA applications are better than those that come with the Palms.
    The speed somewhat slow now, and the Handwriting recognition is a bit weak, but Agenda Computing is working on a new ABI toolkit that gives a 2-3 times speed boost.
    It includes a Commercial Infrared Transmitter, so you can use it as a remote control.
    The LED is a tricolor, and is application controllable.
    With the newest Kernel/Romdisk, you can set it up so that it unsuspends when you take out the stylus, and suspends when you put it back.
    It uses AAA batteries - NiMH or regular alkalines last about 6-10 hours of active use, and 2-3 weeks of normal use. I use Duracell Ultra batteries and get about 1.5 times as long.
    This is still a developer's unit - and the software is undergoing heavy development, but I am using it as a useful PDA.
    In addition to the XFree86 that Agenda Computing is using, QT embedded, GTK Embedded, Pocket Linux, TinyX, and Microwindows are being ported to this PDA.
  • This is the reason Unix was invented! Back when the main user interface was a teletype, restricting commands to two or three characters, no matter how cryptic (ls, mv, vi, cat, etc) seemed like a good idea.

    Now we've come full circle - bad handwriting recognition on a tiny input screen has once again given the arcane *nix command set a new lease on life.

    Ain't progress grand!!

  • The difference here is that the Agenda is a real Linux PDA with PDA-type applications under Linux, not just a handheld with a login: prompt. You know, memo pad, calendar with alarm, to do list, things that make the device useful as well as cool to those among your fellow geeks who are potheads.


  • The Agenda is not vaporware. I have one in my
    hands right now - no vapor in sight. You can't
    buy them in stores yet - but if you go to their
    web site you can buy one *today*.

    The software isn't *finished* but what Linux
    software ever is?

    It does most basic stuff reasonably well, I
    think the handwriting recognition has a way
    to go yet...but heck it runs X and you can
    port most reasonably small applications to
    it without problems.

    There is a great developer community too.
  • But if you actually want a portable device that can take text input, they've got a ways to go.
    Well, you can use the little keyboard app.

    Tom Swiss | the infamous tms |

  • If you think this trend is taking off now, just wait until the day when Dragon []ball [] Linux exists...

  • Palm's Graffiti is so underrated! Just because the Palms don't support full fledge handwriting recognition, people piss and moan. Graffiti has been optimized to simplify each character of the alphabet. Every character from the Roman Alphabet can be written with one simple stroke. Sure you have to learn something new, but its not difficult. I have gotten to the point where I can take notes during a college lecture, with my TRGPro (Palm Pilot Clone with CF interface).

    Its fun watching the students with laptops, doing everything they can to conserve battery life... while I do all of the same digital note taking on a fraction of 2 AAA batteries ;-) NiMH AAAs none-the-less.
  • Syncing with your PC drains the batteries pretty fast though - something to do with the way the serial port is powered. There is currently a bug (we think) that causes the batteries to drain quickly if you leave it in the 'cradle' - even in 'hibernate'...there is hope that this will be fixed "Real Soon Now".
    Yeah, seeing as most of the Palms and clones have that same problem, I don't see it ever getting fixed.
  • The difference here is that the Agenda is a real Linux PDA with PDA-type applications under Linux, not just a handheld with a login: prompt.So having cool Linux software makes a PDA a "Linux PDA"? But if it's all about software, why are we seeing a new hardware platform?


  • the retail units will be priced at $249,

    You have second sight? Oh, I see, you're quoting the Advantage press release. I hope you'll forgive me if I view press release "facts" sceptically.


  • This seems to be PDA designed around Linux VR []. Which was created for systems based on NEC's VR series chip. Which are mostly PDAs. Which there are a lot of.

    So what advantage does this PDA have over all the other VR PDAs? I don't see anything about the hardware that's more "Linuxy" than a PDA designed for CE. OK, they're really cheap now, but unless Advantage has a secret way to manufacture PDAs cheaper than anybody else, that won't last past the attract-the-developers phase.

    So what's the point? Just because it's "designed for Linux"?


  • Really folks, I never see anyone doing anything with a PDA that I can't do on my credit card sized "Data Bank" (Made in China). And my data bank was free! A gift in some christmas gift exchange where we couldn't spen over $151(cdn)Here is a list of features:
    Clock Mode: Tells the time!
    Telephone Mode: Stores telephone numbers!
    Data Searching/Editing/Deleting: Find phone numbers, change phone numbers, and delete phone numbers!
    Memo mode: Up to 36 characters!
    Secret Function: Set and amend password!
    Calculator Mode: Calculator!
    Seems useful, but I havn't touched it since the day I got it. I read all this stuff off the operation manual( 2"X12" foled-up piece of paper) that came with it. Wish I had pics!
  • Of course not, and that's one of the biggest problems with handheld web browsing. For years webmasters have based their sites on the fact that any web-browsing platform will have at least 600 pixels of horizontal real estate. The site you listed has two 200 pixel images next to a 200 pixel navigation bar. Since horizontal scrolling is a horrible pain, something has to give. Folks need to realize that handhelds can be blazing fast with stunning displays, but with a playing-card sized screen you just can't expect to browse slashdot or pretty much any other traditionally designed website.



  • Yes, you can sync with Linux. You set up a PPP connection, then you can use Samba's rsync, or NFS, or whatever.

    I just got one of these puppies last week. It's fun. A way to go before it's ready for your mom to use (unless she's a hacker too), but it's fun and has definite potential.

    Tom Swiss | the infamous tms |

"Never face facts; if you do, you'll never get up in the morning." -- Marlo Thomas