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Handhelds Hardware

New Linux PDA Available 182

Jacob writes: "I just ran across an article about a new Linux-based PDA called the Powerplay III Linux PDA. The PDA is manufactured in Taiwan but is being sold by Canadian Linux company, Empower. This PDA is Palm IIIxe compatible (dragonball processor), is shipped with Empower's Linux DA O/S, and get this: its only $89! I'll be getting one..." We mentioned this operating system a few weeks ago. They now have some sort of source download available, which seems like a step in the right direction.
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New Linux PDA Available

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  • by dgp ( 11045 )
    $89! whoho. maybe that will put palm in their place with their 1000% markup on a little lcd screen attached to a 68000 with batteries.
  • Ok, cool device - runs linux, comes with apps, cheap, very cheap! But, does the statement "Palm IIIxe compatible" mean you can flash Palm OS on it? My wife would love a PDA, but isn't exactly "bleeding edge". She has troubles with Windows, let alone X. So, is this a budget alternative? Or, is entry-level Handspring still the best bet.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The web site says 6 to 8 weeks for delivery. The product documentation is sparse. I'm not sure if I'd be willing to order from these people just yet. I love the idea of it, but the lack of documentation on the product makes me wonder if it is real or not....
    • by darkPHi3er ( 215047 ) on Saturday September 22, 2001 @02:22AM (#2333592) Homepage
      "...makes me wonder if it is real or not...."

      and here, brothers and sisters, is as succinctly as it could be said, the reason why trying to crack an existing market in technolgy products is so tough....

      i (and all my friends) usually expect our "devices" to have a major brand name on them...

      whether that name is Sony or Palm or Compaq or Casio or Nintendo or Atari

      it's up to us to take a chance, roll the dice on the $89, and if it's cool or even just usuable...

      WE HAVE TO TELL EVERYONE WE KNOW
      • well spoken...

        It would seem that the same the balk at a new device that is as cheep as this one, are the same people that bitch and complain that the only options out there are brought to us by the same corperate whores that they DO support.

        I'll order one, and if it sucks, it was still cheeper then any MS license fee...

        understand? get the picture?
        • If you're looking to waste money on a piece of junk, with your rationale being that it's "still cheaper than any MS license fee," please send me $75, and in return I will send you something fun. It may or may not be useful, but not only is it "cheaper than any MS license fee," it is also cheaper than one of these puppies! With deals like this, how could you even consider passing it up?
      • Where on that site is the technical info about the device? i.e. how much RAM, what resolution, what peripherals, and so on? It's nice it runs Linux and all, and is only $89, but I'd like to try to figure out just how many e-books it would hold. :)
        • by Kancer ( 61362 )
          Some specs are right on the site.

          Manufactured by Linux DA O/S Licensee Embedded with Linux DA O/S for PowerPlay III
          Palm IIIxe Compatible
          2 MB Flash Upgradeable
          8 MB RAM
          Motorola Dragonball CPU
          Battery Operated
          Color Available - GALAXY GREY
          15 Days Technical Support by Email
          6 Month Linux DA O/S Software Upgrade
          One Year Warranty
          Includes: Carrying Case, 2 AAA Batteries, PC Sync Cable, CD with PC Sync Program, Quick-Start
          Manual, Handwriting Guide, Warranty Card, Registration Card
        • Time to sue GNU... They distributed a dangerous circumvention device.

          tr [a-zA-Z] [n-za-mN-ZA-M]
      • I had the same wait time when I pre-ordered my Handspring Visor, it was well worth the wait.
        It was the longest 6-8 weeks of my life though!
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Rolling the dice is fine if you want to take a chance. The reason I 'wonder if it's real or not' is the lack of documentation. If these people want to be successfull, they should provide the full specs (monitor resolution, battery lifetime, dimensions, applications, software support, etc). These are all simple things to document as part of the product sales literature, unless of course this is just sales person's dream. Believe me, I want it all to be true!!!!
  • Have you seen the license agreement to download the "SDK"??

    http://www.linuxda.com/download/SDK_agree.html

    Seems like all those restrictions just maaaaaaaybe against the GPL...

  • I just checked the web site, and they don't have any actual PDAs for sale at the site store just yet. Oh well.
    • Where you blind ? Here's a copypaste from the store [linuxda.com]
      • PowerPlay III PDA US$99.99 US$89.99* Qty

        At this time, PowerPlay III PDA is available for shipping to US and Canadian residents ONLY.

        *Taxes not included. Prices are subject to local taxes. Shipping and handling costs will be added to the final price.


      And then there was nice little box where you could add the quantity of products you wish to buy.. Allthou they dont ship the damned product outside US and Canada. I would have ordered it right away.

      Anyone have previewed this thing allready ?
    • If you looking for alternative pda that runs linux then check agendacomputing.com [agendacomputing.com]. they have sweet little pda using strong arm processor. it runs X. porting apps is a snap, all it needs is recompile. it little more price but it offers more features.
      • It's a MIPS processor (NEC VR4181) not a StrongARM.

        Anyway, the Agenda VR3 is definitely a better hacker's pda. The 16MB of flash give you a lot of room to create your own PDA. This new pda only has 2MB of flash, so things are going to be fairly limited. Storing things in RAM is not the smartest idea in my opinion... I like the fact that my VR3 will retain all of the programs and data, even if the batteries die while it's in use.

        -Sean
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Yup, I spoke with the people who started this company in Richmond, BC - Canada.
      They are planning on not releasing all of the GPL'd software in source, and technically they are most definatly violating the GPL in many ways that people don't know yet. Hopefully someone will pick up, as I can't say myself at this point in time...
      I really hate companies like this that lie, and illegally violate the GPL.
  • Interesting Idea (Score:2, Interesting)

    by VertigoAce ( 257771 )
    A cheap Linux PDA is certainly an interesting path to go, but there are some issues based on that data sheet:

    "6 month Linux DA O/S software upgrade" - This better be a stable OS if you only get 6 months of upgrades (setting aside whatever license restrictions there are)

    8MB RAM and 2MB flash seems a bit small. Doubling the RAM wouldn't be very expensive, but you'd see a large performance increase (speaking from my work with the Agenda VR3). I'm not suggesting that Linux can't run in that space, but it might prevent much in the way of third party applications (assuming that it doesn't contain any software on a ROM chip).

    For the price, however, it would be a good choice for a regular user (read: non-hacker). Most of the people who use it probably won't care that it's Linux anyway.

    -Sean
    • For the price, however, it would be a good choice for a regular user (read: non-hacker). Most of the people who use it probably won't care that it's Linux anyway.

      I disagree. I think a lot of linux fans would love to get their hands on a linux pda, and at that price I know I won't pass it up. Anyone know when they go on sale?

      Home users would probably rather stick with a winCE device, since it looks like what they're used to. ;-)
    • 8MB RAM and 2MB flash seems a bit small. Doubling the RAM wouldn't be very expensive, but you'd see a large performance increase (speaking from my work with the Agenda VR3).

      You can't compare the two. With Palm devices the RAM is actually used to store apps and data, flash is strictly for the PalmOS (LinuxDA in this case) and the batteries keep a trickle charge going to the RAM to prevent data loss when the unit is off. No improvement in speed would be had by doubling the RAM, since most Palm apps are very small (90% under 150k, most under 75k) the 8 megs of RAM is more than sufficient.

      I'm playing with a Palm III right now which only has 2 megs of RAM, I've only got it half full with all the games I've been putting on it. :)

      -- iCEBaLM
      • Thanks, I didn't realize that this Linux variant didn't use RAM for program execution. My only PDA experience has been with LinuxVR and PocketPC, both of which use RAM for run-time program execution (PocketPC on a 32MB Jornada uses 16MB for data storage and the other 16MB for running programs).

        -Sean
    • You can't hammer on the 8mb of RAM thing. I am using a Phillips Nino which only has 4mb of RAM, and I have no problems. Oh yeah, It's running WIN CE!!!!! If win ce can run fine on 4mb, linux will run awesome on 8mb. Don't turn your nose up at it. With an $89 price tag, I would have a heartattack if it had any more than that. Also, if it takes compact flash, that short coming can be remedied rather quickly.
  • Summary of features . . .
    Palm IIIxe Compatible
    Supplied with Linux DA O/S for PowerPlay III
    Processor: Motorola Dragonball, 16 MHz clock rate
    8 MB RAM
    2 MB Flash (upgradeable)
    Serial port for connection to PC
    Expansion slot(s): none
    Battery: non-rechargeable AAA cells
    Color Available: "Galaxy Grey"
    15 Days technical support by email
    6 month Linux DA O/S software upgrade
    One year warranty
    Includes: Carrying Case, 2 AAA Batteries, PC Sync Cable, CD with PC, Sync Program, Quick-Start Manual, Handwriting Guide, Warranty Card, Registration Card


    See??, it includes a "CD with PC"!
  • The OS is not under that license.
  • by laymil ( 14940 )
    personally, i don't feel that linux is the best OS for this application. however, to each his own. the $89 price tag makes this quite an appealing purchase. However, the anemic amount of RAM seems to be an important downside. Oh how i long for a PDA that can take the place of my laptop. Or at least one with a respectable amount of storage. bah.
    • what it comes down to for me is if it can get online.
    • However, the anemic amount of RAM seems to be an important downside.

      If this thing works at all like the Palm Vx works, 8M is more than plenty for over 90% of its intended audience.

      My Vx has all manner of applications loaded, games, time/expense tracking, email, development, etc. and I've still got 3 or 4 megs free.

      • you'd be surprised. thats how things work with a ti-89...those are wonderful little machines. with about 1.5M of ram+flash, the hold a lot of info and apps and games. So, i've always got that. as you say 8M is plenty for over 90% of its intended audience. i suppose i'm in that 10% then. oh well. such is life.
        • So, i've always got that. as you say 8M is plenty for over 90% of its intended audience. i suppose i'm in that 10% then. oh well. such is life.

          Actually I consider myself in that 10% as well; I have had under 100k of memory left but after working with the palm for a while I realized I didn't need all that shit in memory and tossed a good portion of it. I think the vast majority of people would be happy with 4M; the 8M versions are for people who have enormous addressbooks or very (very!) busy schedules.

          8M doesn't sound like a lot but think about it: Reading books on it sucks and GIS information is best viewed in colour. It hasn't got the processor power to crunch huge databases and it's designed to be an extension to a computer, not a standalone computer itself. I haven't been able to find a really heavy appication to that works well on it. Hell even with the folding keyboard PocketC still blows. :-)

  • ...over and over again! I just don't get it.

    What I am crying for actually is a larger display. I know it is supposed to be palm compatible with its 160x160 square screen.

    But what keeps them away from enlarging the display into the "graffiti" write zone? This gives roughly 1/3 more display area, for easier data display and email reading and and and...

    Admitted, it would confuse the normal Palm user, but how hard is it to program a "softkeyboard" which just displays the graffiti zone at users will? And how hard is it to grab written graffiti from all over the screen? The answer to both: "not very".

    The softkeyboard ist just a matter of display in the lower display area and the all-screen graffiti zone is something seen on a lot of palm today that run ScreenWrite (shareware hack).

    So?
    • The "character recognizer" on my HP Jornada 540 keeps a little icon in the bottom right corner to turn it on and off. It also has a sweet color screen. I even downloaded a program that translates cursive writing! It is quite pricy, though.

      They already make what you're looking for, its just really expensive...but I guess that the typical nerd's tale of computers. The coolest hardware is always too expensive. :-)
    • What I am crying for actually is a larger display.

      ...

      But what keeps them away from enlarging the display into the "graffiti" write zone? This gives roughly 1/3 more display area, for easier data display and email reading and and and...

      You might be interested in this review [pdabuzz.com] of a HandEra [handera.com] (formerly TRG) 330. Its got exactly what you're looking for.
    • Admitted, it would confuse the normal Palm user, but how hard is it to program a "softkeyboard" which just displays the graffiti zone at users will? And how hard is it to grab written graffiti from all over the screen? The answer to both: "not very".

      That is the way Graffiti is implemented on the Newton. Why one would bother with Graffiti on a Newton is beyond me- the actual HWR (not character-recog) is a lot faster and far more natural. But if one chooses to use Palm Computing's Graffiti, the window can be moved around whever the user chooses.

  • for $99 including shipping, i bought one. I always said palms were cool but I couldn't justify spending so much money on them. Now i can't justify not having one.
    • You can afford $99 on a product that very well may be a piece of crap and has only the built-in apps, but not $149 on something that has a proven record of being a pretty nice PDA with tons of users and apps behind it? I mean christ, at least wait until a review comes out, so you can hear if they even ship you one after they take your cash! But then again, it runs Linux, so it must be good, eh?
      • Catch 22

        No one buys one, for everyone waits for the review. Now tell me, who is going to review it unbiased, when no one is buying the thing?

        Gr.

        Hertog
        • No one buys one, for everyone waits for the review. Now tell me, who is going to review it unbiased, when no one is buying the thing?


          I doubt a review made by a person who bought something purely on the basis of it running Linux or the fact that it was dirt cheap would be unbiased. A lot of the times, it's a web site or a magazine which reviews these things first. And why not? That's what review articles are for. Often enough, they get a free demo unit to keep or borrow, where individuals do not. But I suppose it's good for some irrational boobs or a magazine/website to waste her money than me.

      • But then again, it runs Linux, so it must be good, eh?

        You might want to look at the other comments. I don't think anyone has called it "good". In fact, it looks like a piece of crap from what people have been saying about it.

    • Personally, I'd spend the extra $30 & get a proven PDA. That seems a lot easier to justify than $100 on some unknown with what sounds like a clunky interface.
  • The Dragonball CPU used in here doesn't have an MMU, which means that you don't get all kinds of things like memory protection, demand paging, fixed address executables etc. Oh, no fork() either. No glibc, so porting gets harder too.

    Don't get me wrong; ucLinux is still very cool, but it's not in the same league as the Agenda VR3, VTech Helio, or mono iPaq. Of course, they're all at least double the price....
  • That better be $89 Canadian.... I could go for a linux machine.

    How do you enter text, etc? Graffiti style? OSD keyboard?
  • I use a Palm sporadically, and it does what it's supposed to. I don't do much with its TCP stack, but I would expect a Linux PDA to be able to make a PPP connection for ftp, ssh (telnet?), and maybe even to hook up to a remote file system (palmfs, anyone?).

    What does a Linux PDA buy me? I haven't seen lists of apps for it, is there a reasonably up-to-date ssh implementation? Can it run Palm apps (my timesheet probably isn't available as a Linux app)? Does it run any popular interpreters (Python, Perl, how about awk)?

    If it doesn't have more than buzzwords, it probably won't have a positive impact on my productivity...

    But for $89, I can always flash it back to PalmOS if it doesn't work out for me, right?
    • I think 2MB Flash is nor enough to have really good (additional) applications. But for the Agenda there is already a huge list of free applications available. So this should be better to increase the productivity:
      http://supermegamulti.com/agenda
  • i'm guessing being a 3x clone, it'll have the standard 2 1/2" screen, instead of the rather small screen of my m100....25% at that size is a huge difference. I'm curious though, i have a copy of a palm OS rom, 4.5.....would I be able to flash the linux rom with a true palm OS (for testing purposes only, of course ; )

    a linux palm sold mainstream is neat, but this is hardware compatible only . you still aren't getting the huge benifit of the palm os, which is the infinite supply of quick, useful and more importantly, FREE programs out there.

    now you might say 'but this is nothing more than a simple organizer, it's not made to emulate game boy games and various other things, it is simply an electronic address book and datebook', it is, that's what my palm is used for for 90% of the time also, but i also enjoy the versatility of the (shudder) mainstream os, and it's ablity to download play with a new gam at will. avantgo is handy also. i think palm os program compatiblity would be a huge step up.

    i'll probably get one anyways, the concept of programming and modifying the kernel of a device like that is too apetizing for me not to : )
    • ...but i also enjoy the versatility of the (shudder) mainstream os, and it's ablity to download play with a new gam at will. avantgo is handy also.

      Allah forbid you use something that is popular! What would all the other kids at school think?!?

  • its based on the uCLinux [uclinux.org] project - its got 2MB flash, 8MB RAM, and its a Motorola Dragonball, all the same as the uC project.

    So when is linux gonna run on PIC's and Atmel AVR's? :) It runs on D-balls, StrongArms, MIPS, I'm sure soon stable ports will exist for the PSX and the PS/2....the only thing really missing on teh embedded front at this point are development tools...that said, the GPASM and Atmel tools for Linux are quite nice.
    • he only thing really missing on teh embedded front at this point are development tools...that said, the GPASM and Atmel tools for Linux are quite nice.

      I've been pestering both Microchip and Advanced Transdata for the specs on their ICE-2000 and Rice17 respectively. Nothing to date. However I believe that I can muck with the VMWare parallel port module and have it timestamp and dump all communications in both directions. After that, I'd like to try my shot at using KDevelop and create a debugger/IDE without the inconsistencies that both MPLAB and Rice17 has.

      If anyone has any more information on the protocol that either of these ICEs use, I'd love to hear from you.

  • Are you sure you'd better buy Linux-based PDA just because it's linux-based and cheap? It will be your toy for a few weeks, and then you'll be desperately trying to sell it to somebody. OS and (to some extent) price don't matter here. These little things should be USABLE first of all. And if you need something usable NOW (not a couple of years later) - you'd buy either palm or pocketpc. Don't make a mistake. Define your priorities first.
  • by mj6798 ( 514047 ) on Saturday September 22, 2001 @04:16AM (#2333718)
    I downloaded the Linux source from their site. It seems to be some kind of derivative of uClinux [uclinux.org]. Whether they have made any useful modifications is hard to tell. In any case, they certainly don't seem to be interested in a high quality release or community input: there is no documentation, not even a README. To top it all off, the kernel tarball has a 7.6M core dump from "netscape-commun" in it.

    Altogether, I'd stay away. If you want a nice, functional Linux PDA, take a look at the Agenda [agendacomputing.com]. HP also will be coming out with a real Linux PDA.

    • To top it all off, the kernel tarball has a 7.6M core dump from "netscape-commun" in it.

      Give them a break. In today's tech climate, even the big, rich guys are having difficulties with funding. God knows how difficult it must be to be a tiny little, previously unheard-of startup trying to get into a fiercely competitive market (and yes, the PDA market is really very cut-throat these days).

      As for the core dump in the tarball... heck, even Linus and Alan have made that or similar mistakes in the past. In fact, as recently as 2.4.9-ac10 there were a couple of weird extraneous files in Alan's kernel. At least they are actually releasing the source as they should be...

      • Give them a break. In today's tech climate, even the big, rich guys are having difficulties with funding.

        There's underfunding, and then there's underfunding. If the operation just has a few flaky aspects here and there, well, OK, maybe they're just concentrating their money where it can do the most good.

        But if they're leaving huge garbage files in their source tree -- and distributing same -- they obviously have problems in their R&D, QA, and Integration departments.

        In fact, if a company has a slick exterior, but makes a lot of bad engineering mistakes, I'd be very wary of them. Especially if they claim to be able to sell Linux-based, Palm-Compatible PDAs for a hundred bucks! These are all symptoms of a company that is making all kinds of absurd plans in the hope that it will attract funding.

        • I think it is bad to try to make such a judgement from such a mistake. Nobody's perfect. Maybe they're underfunded. Maybe not. Maybe they are having problems, maybe not. But a technical mistake like this is not a good indicator of such.

          A long pattern of such mistakes, might be.

          Heck, this mistake might just be because of an attitude that "we need to get source online quickly, but don't spend much time (i.e. money) doing it. If people complain because it's too big, that's their problem. We are meeting our obligations."

          There is no GPL obligation that the presentation of source downloads must be nice, well organized, or efficient.
      • Give them a break. In today's tech climate, even the big, rich guys are having difficulties with funding.

        The company released binaries to a GPL'ed program months before releasing the sources (in fact, they probably have lost all their rights to distribute the kernel because of their GPL violation). There is no documentation, no README, nothing in the source tree, no instructions for building it, no change log, no notes to their own engineers. It is clear that they don't give a damn about people being able to rebuild the software or participating. In fact, I strongly doubt that the sources they ship correspond to the binaries they ship. The huge "core" file is only the last straw.

  • Well, I don't know about anyone else but for me my PDA is very much a utilitarian tool - I do my playing on a regular computer. So I looked at Linuxda.com [linuxda.com] (noticed it wasn't open source, but neither is PalmOS), and then found the screen shots [linuxda.com]. First reaction is that the screens are a bit on the ugly side (although not terminally so), and that it passes some kind of sanity test of functionality. Hard to really know, but I can always hope that this will fulfill my dream of an appliance which Just Works (like I say, I futz around enough with my regular computer, and I don't regret that time, but I don't necessarily want that times 2).

  • I work for an online newspaper here in Norway, and I wanted the paper to test the first Linux PDA, Agenda. So I wrote to Agenda Computing asking for a press kit and a demo model. This was half a year ago. They haven't shown us a model yet, only e-mails assuring that it will be sent "next month". So, is Agenda dead?
  • I've been using my Palm Vx for over a year now. I've been using Palm Pilots for about four years. I like them but I think I've bought my last Palm.

    Next, I get to thinking about the Linux alternative. I like Linux, I've been using it for years, so I want to give it the benefit of the doubt. However, it has non-rechargable batteries, and they actually advertise "paint" and "CPU Speed" on their list of applications. For me, buying this would be purely an act of Linux patriotism. Perhaps a worthy idea but I don't have the extra cash for that.

    Now I'm far from a Micro$oft lover but look at what they are doing. [zdnet.co.uk]

    • 802.11b
    • VPN access
    • video playback
    • audio playback
    • e-book reader
    These are exactly the sort of things that I would love to add to a PDA. I can surf the web and read word docs from anywhere in my house, yard, or office. I guess asking for it to be small, have a rechargable battery that lasts a week, and to include a cell phone would be too much. Still, it seem like MS is going to own this market whether I like it or not. The good news is that the seem to be doing it by building the best products (according to me).
  • I've been thinking about getting into PDA development for a while. I was wondering, with a machine like this, what skills would it be good to know in order to develop for it? Languages, toolkits, etc.
  • My goodness. It is sure nice that they invented this. I would hate to think that they simply downloaded the kernel and sources from cvs.uclinux.org [uclinux.org] and from here [uclinux.org] and then claimed that they wrote it all... That wouldn't be ethical, now would it?

    If I was Jeff Dionne, the guy who actually ported Linux to run on Motorolla dragonball processors, I think I would be very pissed off to see these people claiming they are "The first Linux compatible O/S scaled down for the Motorola Dragonball CPU platform."

  • Well, at first look the price does seem very impressive. However, for a brand new unit, I find the omission of an expansion slot somewhat glaring. I know I would definitely have paid extra for it.
  • I went to download the the demo for Palm Vx, and it's in .exe format. Argh.

    I sent them a missive of complaint. You should too.
  • They claim to be a company based in Redmond Washington, but it appears to be a front for a company that is actually based in Richmond, BC, just north of the border (Canada is north of the US just about everywhere in case you were wondering, and for those geographically challenged Yanks out there.) Check out 'whois linuxda.com' for details on their actual base of operations.

    I'm not sure if I need these guys/girls and their product. Not because they're Canadian, rather because I don't want to use a Palm clone running under linux. Me, I'd like to see a console window or X display above the CR field, not all those ugly Palm style buttons.

    We hates Palms. Overpriced crap, really.

  • I tried to order one of these things and got an error generated by their page. I wouldn't think too much of this normallly except this is spuuposed to be a "linux" site and this is part of the error message:

    The error occurred while processing an element with a general identifier of (CFIF), occupying document position (276:4) to (276:104) in the template file D:\wwwroot\stargate\htdocs\cfm\linuxda\shipping.cf m

    The specific sequence of files included or processed is:
    D:\WWWROOT\STARGATE\HTDOCS\CFM\LINUXDA\SHIPPING. CF M


    Why is a "linux" site running on a windoze server?
  • Cheap, but... (Score:3, Informative)

    by kdgarris ( 91435 ) on Saturday September 22, 2001 @07:41AM (#2333871) Journal

    ..if you want a real Linux PDA, the Agenda VR3 [agendacomputing.com] is the way to go. It's designed from the ground up for Linux, and 100% open-source.

    I just recieved mine a few days ago because I thought it would be a cool toy, not expecting it to to useful as a PDA. Fortunately it is useful for both, however. If you've read negative reviews of the VR3 indicating otherwise, keep in mind that the system has improved greatly since the initial release.

    A few good and bad points to keep in mind if you're thinking of getting one:

    The good:

    • Small form-factor and lightweight (About the size and weight of a Palm V series PDA)
    • All software is open-source and upgradable (kernel, base system, included apps, etc)
    • Regular free updates from Agenda Computing
    • Active development community
    • Easy to use (knowledge of Linux not required)

    The bad:

    • Short battery life (uses 2 AAA's that last about 2 weeks under normal use)
    • Only 3.5 Megs of read-write user space (the 10 MB system rootdisk can be customized, however)
    • Sync software for Windows users not very mature (just released recently)

    -Karl

    • Yeah, their web site gives me real confidence. See http://www.agendacomputing.com/sw_browser.html for example. Anyone can make mistakes, but that's just sloppy.
      • Maybe it is sloppy. Maybe it's a PHB decision to just provide source code quick and sloppy. Providing source code as a struggling startup is not a revenue generating activity. They're at least clueful enough to give out source. Maybe it will improve over time. I'm not trying to defend them here, but I think it is premature to make rash conclusions based on mistakes, that others in our community have also made. Time will tell if there are deeper problems. And probably sooner than later. In the meantime, why don't we give them the benefit of any doubt?
    • > Sync software for Windows users not very mature (just released recently)

      Sure, after all, it's a Linux PDA. They first finished the sync software for Linux. At least on their german page [agendacomputing.de] the windows software is marked as "not completely finished".

      Jo

  • Where exactly does this website give a drop of information on the PDA? All I see is "Linux PDA" on the front page and the PDA itself in their online store.
  • Look at that thing. It's truely a disgrace. It looks exactly like a palm but it has 2 more buttons in the graffiti area. It's really just copying palm, which has been attempted before. I also remember reading a news article about linux for the Palm, though they hadn't made a version compatible with the IIIc is why I didn't get it. I have since sold my 3c and have gone with the ipaq h3650. It's a solid handheld other than the windows part of it. It's somewhat light, it does enough color for what I need, it has a fairly good speaker, earphone plug, and IS compatible with linux. Did I forget to mention the sweet 206 mhz processor and 32 mb ram? Oh, and while we are on the topic of processors, I seem to remember a palm having that same processor. What did they do, take a palm and put a different cover on it and call it their own model? Come on everyone, lets get atleast SOME originality. The Linux DA os even LOOKS like palm, and I haven't really been happy with the small screens and software of palm. They aren't even multitasking. Also, from what I hear, the Agenda has many good qualities too.
  • So are these things overstocked/extra palm devices with a new case and software? For the price, I'd bet that's what they are.

    Has anyone actually touched one of these things? How similar is it to a Palm III?
  • For 89 bucks, and it's the equal of a palm IIIx? Hell, my visor doesn't even have flash memory.

    If the hardware's palm-compatible, one could, I imagine, grab the rom out of a real IIIx and jam it in there. rock.
  • I'm one of the "good software can make up for cheap hardware" camp. Flame on, whatever.

    I'd probably buy one of these. If the introductory price is $89, that means it could fall, too.

    I speculated that something like this might occur when PCChips [pcchips.com.tw], a motherboard manufacturing company that creates a lot of cheap, sexy form factor all-in-one boards, released their EPD30 [203.161.230.38] model PDA. I purchase PCChips motherboards exclusively for use in my machines, and if this PDA is one made by them, I'll definitely purchase it, to support my favorite cheap-ass hardware manufacturing company. It certainly looks similar, from the one tiny picture I've found of it.

    One reason I'm fond of PCChips is that they tend to use hardware that is standardized and usually has had its documentation published by the manufacturer. (SiS advertises themselves as "supporting linux".) Which means it's only a matter of time and code before it can work with an open-source operating system, and you don't get locked into using bastardized proprietary shit that you have to kowtow with an open wallet at some big industry CEO to get at. And if you have the skills, you can improve the way your system works just by writing and installing software.

    Looks like it comes with a hotsync cable, not a cradle. Cool! I'm all for cheaper products through less extraneous plastic.

    Does anybody have a more thourough review or better pictures of the hardware?

    -Mike

    Yes, I'm a masochistic software developer with a cheap hardware fetish. You probably wouldn't understand.

  • A lot of people on here are say that there are no apps, and why would you buy one of these. I haven't been a big proponent of linux PDAs for home users. However, businessed have a needs that involve to rolling out PDAs to their employees, and in these cases, linux PDAs are the best fit. Since there is little licensing involved in the OS, they can typically beat a Palm or CE device by $50. When you have to roll out to a couple hundres people, that can make a difference, especially with todays budgets. Since the software typically has to be custom built anyways, the number of native applications doesn't matter. In fact, sometime less apps is better, since people are then using their PDAs for their work.
  • by javabandit ( 464204 ) on Saturday September 22, 2001 @04:31PM (#2335188)
    I just installed the LinuxDA demo on my Palm IIIxe. Here are some observations.

    First off, The demo is very annoying. About every 15-20 seconds, a message that takes up the entire screen pops up and says, "LinuxDa... a demo copy for limited use... blah blah". I seriously don't think this stuff is GPL. Their license is on their site here [linuxda.com].

    Second, the UI sucks. I'm not sure why Linux UI implementations have to be so cumbersome. But this one is no different. The drop-down menus are hard-to-control. Often times, selecting a drop-down menu item requires several taps. The UI is 'Palm-like', but it fails horribly in a few key areas of navigability.

    Third, I have sent an email off to LinuxDA asking them if they have a shell interface to the RAM filesystem. The demo doesn't have one. Their 'full' version doesn't appear to have one, either. I also asked about whether or not LinuxDA has a TCP/IP stack, or ethernet support. Again, I saw nothing like that in the demo or in the specs of their full version.

    So far, my conclusion is thumbs down. I don't like it. Yeah, its Linux, but it sucks right now.

    If they give me a shell. If they give me a TCP/IP stack, and ethernet support... then I'm on board. I'm not sure what good Linux on a handheld is without those three things.
    • My thoughts as well. Also what good is it without something like grafitti ? Who the heck wants to pull up a keyboard everytime you need to input some text or numbers.

      not nearly ready for prime time....

      The worst thing is it took me 2 hours to get my damn IIIxe back to a useful state.
  • Why does the OS matter if you only get apps? Or do you get a command line? I didn't find mention of that in the article or their website.

  • This is not the first Linux PDA we're promised.
    I remember Yopy, which made me drrol just with the bare specs. But what has happened to the Yopy in the meantime? Does anyone know? I'd still love to get one (but a production version, not the developer kit !)
  • Is this truly 240x320? Screenshots look like 160x160. The review may contain false info.
  • Color Available: "Galaxy Grey". Heh. I love the name of that processor [imdb.com] too... ka..me..ha..me...ha... [planetnamek.com] ;)

    Despite what /.'ers have been saying about this particular model, a Linux PDA at this price actually sounds pretty interesting. 320*240 screen res, Motorola processor, non-Windows operating system... it's like Amiga [amiga.com] all over again ;)

    I still think that PDAs are primarily marketed for business use, though, when there's a huge nerd market waiting to be tapped.

    I mean, just looking at the picture of the PDA, it's so obviously a business device - apps shown in the screenshot include Memo, Schedule, and what appears to be a minesweeper clone. When would you ever use something like those on a PDA? I wanna see a USENET reader, a mailer, Telnet, Lynx, perhaps even a text editor and FTP combo so I can write my weblog [btinternet.co.uk] on the move...

    At $89, it's competing with the GBA [btinternet.co.uk] for my hard-earned cash and Pokémon [btinternet.co.uk] vs Minesweeper really is no contest...

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