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Handhelds HP Software Hardware Linux

Familiar Distribution for iPAQ Handhelds 94

Russ Nelson writes "The Handhelds.org project has released Familiar 0.7.2, a Linux-based firmware replacement for HP iPAQ handhelds. New to this release is support for the h5400 and h5500, which have built-in wlan interfaces. Both GPE (gtk/X) and Opie (Qt) are at or past version 1.0, and we now have a Python-gtk distribution called 'pypaq'. Why waste that commute time playing Tetris when you could be hacking on Python code?"
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Familiar Distribution for iPAQ Handhelds

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  • Lost Functionality (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dirkdidit ( 550955 ) on Saturday November 15, 2003 @02:11PM (#7481867) Homepage
    I have the iPaq 5450 and that model comes with a biometric fingerprint scanner. I've noticed that this distro doesn't explicitly say it has support for the scanner. Does anybody know if it does indeed support it?

    I use a fingerprint as one of my passwords and I'd like to try this distro out but if it means losing the scanner capability,then I'm hesitant.
  • Leo [sourceforge.net] on this? That would be a killer app.
    But do you really need to run Linux for that, or can you just install Python on a stock iPaq?
  • Zodiac? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Cpt_Kirks ( 37296 ) on Saturday November 15, 2003 @02:20PM (#7481912)
    How about a port to the new Zodiac?

    Similar hardware, better controls, better video, sound and screen.

  • Why? (Score:3, Informative)

    by DaFrog ( 703113 ) on Saturday November 15, 2003 @02:21PM (#7481924)
    The majority of folks who buy an iPaq (me included) do it in order to have a portable version of their main PIM database (i.e., Outlook) - I do not see the advantage... I truly believe that we should stick with pretty-GUI stuff for the desk/palmtop (i.e., Windows) and use the stable stuff (i.e., *nix) in the back end. Just my views...
    • I truly believe that we should stick with pretty-GUI stuff for the desk/palmtop (i.e., Windows) and use the stable stuff (i.e., *nix) in the back end.

      I'll repeat your subject line, and ask, why? Why shouldn't I have my cake and eat it too?
      • Re:Why? (Score:3, Informative)

        Why shouldn't I have my cake and eat it too?

        A common misquote. It should read: "...eat my cake and have it too." Anyone can have their cake and eat it. But it's wishful thinking to be able to eat it and yet still have it. What you have written is meaningless. The word ordering is essential.

    • Re:Why? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by unixbob ( 523657 )
      The answer is: because.

      You are correct that most people who purchase a PDA "do it in order to have a portable version of their main PIM database (i.e., Outlook) ". Although I now have a Dell Axim, I used to have an iPaq 3600. The only reason I bought the iPaq was because of the familiar project (I upgraded from a Palm Pilot Professional purely for the reason of running Linux on a PDA). The only frustration with it was that I couldn't sync meetings + tasks + email with Outlook, which is why I kept reins
      • It's fun to hack it in a way that's not really possible with Pocket PC. Completely pointless as it kippers the personal organiser functionality of the unit - but good geek fun nonetheless

        Did you look at the Opie or GPE screenshots?

        I ran Familiar 0.6 on my old iPaq and it was perfectly fine for organizing. All graphical, had calendar apps and contacts and everything that PocketPC has. Comes with a better drawing app, has an apt-workalike with some nifty apps and games. Konqueror browses much better tha
        • Yeah, I used both. Konqueror on the iPaq is massive. When I've only got 32M of RAM to use, which includes the RAM disk for all the OS binaries and Konqueror comes in @ ~ 6M then it's huge. Although I would concur that Konqueror for Qtopia is a much better browser than the horribly crippled PocketIE. Even dillo (the familiar browser) is more compatible. At the time Opie / Qtopia was the more mature environment, but my problem wasn't the quality of the email / contacts / calendar apps but their inability
        • amen to that.
          Since I installed familiar/OPIE in my Ipaq I never looked back to PocketPC. I know, syncing is a bitch, but guess what, It never worked for me anyway since I run linux on all my computers and they would not sync to PocketPC eiter. OPIE is pretty nifty, has a theme that looks aqua-ish (liquid), and in my IPAQ all the hardware works perfectly (38xx series). But the biggest advantage linux has over pocketpc is the way they manage the storage. PocketPC stores all data and extra programs in RAM, so
      • Re:Why? (Score:3, Informative)

        by EvilAlien ( 133134 )
        You can sync all your PIM apps with Evolution thanks to Multisync [sourceforge.net]. It works fairly well, and I was quite happy with my H3600, Familiar and Opie.. until today when I tried to upgrade to 0.7.2. Now my iPaq is dead and will probably need to be reflashed. Joy.
    • "I truly believe that we should stick with pretty-GUI stuff for the desk/palmtop..."

      Linux has pretty-GUI PDA stuff. You didn't follow the links? For my needs the Kompany-modified Sharp ROM for the SL-5500 syncs to work's Exchange servers just fine thanks, and still retains the Linux underpinnings to match my home network. This is no longer an either/or proposition.

    • Re:Why? (Score:2, Informative)

      by djradon ( 105400 )
      Actually, it is easy to sync Opie with Outlook, see the OpieSyncing wiki [handhelds.org] for details, but basically you just need Sharp's Intellisync [zaurus.com], which works great for me.

      And to answer "Why?" -- I can use unison to synch a mobile subset of my files with my handheld. I can run Samba on my ipaq to browse through its real filesystem. PocketPC's filesystem is essentially inaccessible without going through ActiveSync, which is horrible.
    • Tell that to Microsoft and they'll say they want the server too. A pretty desktop is the easy part, it's doing on a secure and reliable platform that's the real "catch". So why not have your cake and eat it too by having a robust OS on the handheld?

      BTW, just what do you think is running behind the scenes of your MS LookOut client? Most likely it's a Microsoft Exchange SERVER and it's NOT running on "stable stuff". But that's how MS wants it. They want it all. You do realize that if the PocketPC/WinCE busin
  • Spending commute time playing tetris would be a waste for sure. But I prefer reading to "hacking". Programming is what I do when I get to work. I don't need to to it on my way to it and from it.
    • Well, that's great for you, but there are some people (myself included) who code at work, and then choose to work on personal projects in their spare time. These would, of course, be the same people who develop most of the open source software you've come to know and love. Personally, I wouldn't mind being able to hack on the occasional Python project while I commute... after all, it's difficult enough trying to find the free time to work on my own stuff...
  • Question (Score:3, Interesting)

    by justsomebody ( 525308 ) on Saturday November 15, 2003 @02:32PM (#7481998) Journal
    Does anybody know or has experience with iPAQ and Linux, I'm thinking about buying one, but I don't know one thing.

    Does iPAQ with Linux supports GSM phone card (read as accesory drivers), so I could be able to access my servers trough ssh from anywhere?
    If yes, then which model and which accesory.

    Yes, I know that Windows do support that on iPAQ, but I really hate Windows too much, it's not an option, I'm not in suicidal mode.
    • Re:Question (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Yes, I know that Windows do support that on iPAQ, but I really hate Windows too much, it's not an option, I'm not in suicidal mode

      Interesting - while I don't really like desktop Windows, I find they've done a better job with PocketPCs. A lot of the issues with Windows tended to be with its underlying x86 DOS legacy stuff. That's not there with PocketPC, it just looks a bit like Windows and has the Windows brand, but it certainly isn't Windows under the bonnet. To be honest, it doesn't handle much like Win
      • I already given up on one, mostly because WIndows were slow as hell and mainly unusable for my needs. So far my notebook serves me just OK.

        If I would really need that badly I would probably buy my self palm or visor, both have decent support for what I asked, but I fancy Linux and Linux it will be.

        Reason: Thing that I would need beside decent ssh terminal access would be some monitoring deamons of mine which could be easily ported on any Linux environment, so I guess this takes PocketLinux in account too.
    • If you want a *working* linux PDA get a 3870 off ebay, must be pretty cheap these days. All the hardware works out of the box (on the ipaq, dunno about PCMCIA/CF jacket stuff).
      I use GSM/GPRS over IrDA to ssh to my servers on emergencies, but, to be frank, I'd rather use the notebook to do that. Typing on the on-screen keyboard is much slower than a real keyboard.

  • Five years ago, I decided that I wont'ever pay for a m$ product. No ipaq for me as hp ships them with m$ operating system. I'll stick with sony clie.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Why waste that commute time playing Tetris when you could be hacking on Python code?

    Because I'm not a nerd.
  • Did anyone else think this story was going to say something like "the distribution of iPAQ handhelds follows Zipf's law" or something?

    I wonder what it would prove if the distribution did follow Zipf's law.

  • Why waste that commute time playing Tetris when you could be hacking on Python code?"

    Actually I'm doing that as I type...

    goddamnit! fucking car tried to cut me off!! ...so anyway, I'm playing around with this thing, trying to.....shiiiiiiiiit!!!!


    Man, and I thought cell phones were dangerous to use while driving.
  • by DrSkwid ( 118965 ) on Saturday November 15, 2003 @03:10PM (#7482178) Homepage Journal
    The linux loader also supports plan9 [bell-labs.com] and Inferno [vitanuova.com]

    So why watse your life with Linux when you can use professional software.

    oh, and inferno comes with tetris too

    • What does one do with Plan 9 on an iPaq?
      • read your email
        vnc to a web browser :)
        edit files

        same as plan9 on a terminal

        mouse chording is tricky with the stylus

        • *cough*

          I mean, what's the point of using Plan 9 on a device that's disconnected most of the time so you don't get any of the advantages of Plan 9's distributed architecture?

          I mean, I can read my email, vnc to a web browser, and edit files on just about any OS. What's Plan 9 get me that's particularly addtractive in this form factor?
          • oic, nothing, pretty useless in fact

            that's why I use a 802.11b pcmcia card with it

          • > What's Plan 9 get me that's particularly
            > addtractive in this form factor?

            the ability to share _exactly_the_same_ environment you have at home, at work and wherever else you may think of.

            it's what grid computing dreams of, and Plan 9 delivers :) I've seen people use IPAQs to stream mp3's from a centralized Plan 9 server all over the university campus and even in town.
            • So basically if you're already using Plan 9 extensively, it's an extension of that environment. Fair enough.

              How about Inferno? What can I do with Inferno that I can't do with WinCE or Linux? Wouldn't it make as much sense to run Inferno as a hosted OS under one or the other, to maximise your flexibility?
              • Hosted Inferno is great for rapid prototyping of distributed cross-platform applications and the creation of grid-like environments on demand.

                This sounds like too much buzzwordism, I know, but take a look at http://www.vitanuova.com/grid/ [vitanuova.com] and, if you have IE, play around with their grid demos. From your web browser!

                Now imagine doing the same thing to a cluster of thousands of Inferno CPU machines clustered together, effectively serving as an addition to your environment. And you don't even need to change
  • Java on iPAQ (Score:2, Interesting)

    We are doing a project in Java and the target is the iPAQ with Windoze. We found a commercial JVM that supports javacomm and Swing, though we are experiencing flaky behaviour.

    I am not sure if it is the O/S or the JVM, but our code seems to work fine on Win2K.

    Has anyone out there had good results getting the full JVM (1.4) working under Linux on this device? Should we switch?
  • Not covered in the FAQ (that I saw...)

    I thought to get OS upgrades to the IPAQ you needed to have it flashed by a dealer (funny flashing comments to follow no doubt) - it's not just a simple "run a program" arrangement. So how do you update to Familiar? Or am I talking rubbish here and it is simply a software update?
    • Re:Update (Score:2, Informative)

      by robjs ( 724390 )
      Updating to Familiar is a fairly simple process, if you visit the Faniliar Install Guide page at handhelds.org [handhelds.org] you can see that it's all very well documentated.

      The installation takes the form of installing a bootstrap program from WinCE, this is documented as something really scary, but it isn't. You just need to read the instructions and follow them carefully. It's true that it could break your handheld, but there are a lot of safety nets built in. As for getting the actual distro on there, you place
    • I thought to get OS upgrades to the IPAQ you needed to have it flashed by a dealer [...] Or am I talking rubbish here and it is simply a software update?

      You don't need a dealer even for Windows ROM updates [hp.com], since iPAQ ROM is flashable. It's like when you flash a new ROM version to your motherboard.

      Instalation of diferent flavors of Familiar Linux is well covered in detailed instructions [handhelds.org] in many HowTo's and FAQs.

    • I downloaded and installed the 0.7.2 release of GPE this morning. So far, so good.

      I have a Compaq iPaq 3650 upgraded to 64MB RAM and a PCMCIA sleeve with a Linksys wireless NIC and an IBM 340MB microdrive used for file storage and flashing the updates. You simply copy the zip file to the microdrive (I also have an Ipaq 3970 still with WinCE 2002 on it) and then using the bootloader installed using hyperterminal (as mentioned before) you execute a flash loader that reads right from the microdrive (or CF mem
  • Python has been available in Familiar, and before that in the Compaq Linux for the iPAQ since I packaged it up nearly 3 years ago.

    Mailing List Archive Link [handhelds.org]

  • This is great news for the linux front, but sad since most Ipaq's go for around $300-$600-the price of a decent Linux box. I don't think many /.'ers can/will offord one. Besides I see this more of a "geek" project. Sure it is a working PDA with linux but it it takes a bit of know how and tweakin along with dedication to get it to work. Bravo guys on increasing the Linux foot print and you have my $$$ to help along the way.
  • by Cloud K ( 125581 ) on Saturday November 15, 2003 @07:47PM (#7483508)
    Last time I checked, it basically wasn't possible due to the closed design of them. But love Linux as much as I do, I still pick the most suitable hardware for my needs. An iPAQ answered that, with Windows CE.

    I tried Familiar (heart beating FAST as it messed around with areas that can easily turn the iPAQ into a brick) and one of the main things that put me off was a lack of support for the MMC slot. Sure, I could bloat the size of it even further with a CF jacket, but... meh :( My camera (which I like!) is MMC.

    The other thing that bugged me was Bluetooth. If you think it's behind the times in Windows, IMHO it's 5x worse in Linux. I've faffed with it for a week on a desktop machine, don't fancy the same on a handheld TYVM :)

    Not being a troll, just submitting my perspective on things as an honest fan of Linux.
  • How about a port? In my opinion, the Axim would be a great PPC to port Linux to. It's loaded with features, it's dirt cheap, and I'm sick of WM2003. :)

    Seriously though, does anyone know the status of a port to the Axim?

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