My palmtops story

All started years ago — I was living in Wrocław then. Each Thursday groups of friends met in pub. About half of them used PalmOS powered palmtops. Due to them I started thinking about buying palmtop for myself.

Palm M105

About year later I bought my first PDA: Palm M105. It had monochrome screen (16 shades of grey), PalmOS 3.5 and 8MB of RAM (which is also used as storage). Standard AA(A) batteries were able to power it for quite long time. I moved my calendar, address book into it, used it as e-book reader (with Plucker), public transportation timetable (Przewodas and Fahrplan) and many others things.

Sony CLIE SJ30

One day I decided that 160×160 screen is too small and colour would be nice thing to have. So I bought Sony CLIE SJ30. It was powered by PalmOS 4.1 and had great 320×320 screen. Took me a bit of time to collect apps which were able to make use of that resolution (as PalmOS treats all devices as 160×160 ones — only fonts looks better). I also started hacking some applications to make use of HiRes screen and fonts.

It was nice device and my first one with memory card slot — I used 128MB MemoryStick with it.

But hacking applications was frustrating — system did not made any use of HiRes screen, GUI sizes were mostly hard coded so even replacing fonts with smaller ones did not give more informations on screen. I decided to change platform.

Sharp Zaurus SL-5500

At that time (end of 2003 year) I had two other choices: PocketPC or Linux. I decided to not go into PalmOS 5 as it was not better then older versions. So after checking market I decided to go Linux way (which was even easier as I used Linux on Desktop for quite long time then).

And that’s how I bought Zaurus SL-5500. I found someone who fetched it from USA for me (I even got 3 months warranty from Sharp as it was refurbished device). It was costly device — I had to sell CLIE, its memory card to be able to get “collie” into my hands.

13 February 2004 Zaurus arrived with SharpROM 2.38 installed. It was nice change from PalmOS world but it lacked “hackability” so I decided to switch into open alternative: OpenZaurus. It was 3.2 version (last one with binary compatibility with SharpROM).

Change was great — finally system which I can hack as much as I want to. After some time I switched to “3.3-pre1″ version which was totally experimental but it had newer OPIE. But also it lacked software due to not being compatible any more with SharpROM…

OpenEmbedded

I started searching for tools to build some applications. First it was “buildroot” used by OpenZaurus but some guys told me that I should forget about it and start to use something called OpenEmbedded.

Gods… this was hard tool. I had to buy extra RAM to my desktop machine just to use it. But after about week (or two) of asking stupid questions to Kergoth and Mickeyl I finally got ideas how to use it and started to build extra applications for collie (which still was using OZ 3.3-pre1).

My Zaurus started to have less and less packages from OpenZaurus 3.3 and most of installed software was built with OpenEmbedded. So one day I decided to build whole image with OE. It took me week. After that I got write permissions and joined OE core team ;)

We worked hard on our build system and in September 2003 OpenZaurus 3.5.1 was released. It lacked some software present in previous releases but also gave many others. Community started to use it, then some developers joined us so next releases had more software, more machines supported, more environments (not only OPIE but also GPE).

Zaurus c760

Time passed… I was spending lot of time on user support and one day people from #oe and #openzaurus channels started to congratulate me on getting new toy. I was surprised as I had no idea what are they talk about. Someone pointed me to OESF forums thread where Richard Jackson wrote that he donates his c760 for me. It was great day.

Zaurus arrived few days later and I flashed it with OpenZaurus on same day (played few minutes with SharpROM). I did lot of VGA related hacking on it (mostly OPIE). It was my favourite PDA for long time.

Zaurus SL-6000L

In May 2006 one OpenZaurus user contacted Mickeyl and me. He wanted to donate two Zaurus palmtops for OpenEmbedded project: SL-5600 (poodle) and SL-6000L (tosa). Both devices arrived at my place month later.

Tosa is very interesting device — very bright screen (best in whole Zaurus line), internal WiFi (Prism2 on USB bus) and usable USB host. But it is also very huge — too big to be usable ;(

Zaurus SL-5600

Crap screen (same as in collie) and only 32MB RAM. Looks like Sharp wanted to produce newer collie but lacked RAM chips. If it would get 64MB of memory it would be nice replacement.

I did not played with it too much — it moved to Mickeyl during OEDEM 2006.

Zaurus SL-C3000

Another device from OpenEmbedded project. I took it from Mickeyl during OEDEM 2006, played a bit, resolved some problems and during FOSDEM 2007 gave it for Rolf ‘Laibsch’ Leggewie.

I did not like it — too thick and heavy.

PalmPilot 5000

One day I had occasion to buy PalmPilot 5000 so I bought it. It was funny to see that PalmOS5 Datebook is nearly same as the one in PalmOS 2.0 — only ~8 years of time difference…

Nokia 770

During FOSDEM 2007 I got Nokia 770 from MDK. For long time I did not found good use for it. For PDA usage I had cellphone (Sony Eriksson k750i), for web browsing I used my desktop… Finally it became used as games platform — Mahjongg, Sudoku, Battleweled and few others. Plus sometimes some web browsing.

Finally during last trip to London I found use for it (based on experience from GUADEC). After installation of Maemo Mapper it turns into nice city map.

FIC Neo1973 GTA01

Some time before FOSDEM I got email that I am one of 50 developers selected for OpenMoko phase0 program. In March I got GTA01Bv3 and two months later GTA01Bv4 came as upgrade.

I have to admit that I have mixed feelings about this device. Compared to iPhone or recent HTC phones it is bulky and feature crippled. But Neo1973 GTA02 has to fix at least features part :)

There were two versions of UI for them: OM 2007.1 and then OM 2007.2 version which we (OpenedHand) prepared for GUADEC. I remember that time when recipes for components were changing many times during one day until poky-image-phone was ready and working. I still have this image (but with upgraded packages) on my GTA01Bv3 phone. It was interesting to see when OH guys were comparing behaviour of applications on 200MHz device with same apps on 266MHz one.

Nokia N810

My recent buy. Hard to tell more about it now.

Current situation

Now I use my cellphone for PIM tasks (calendar, address book, tasks, notes). It is not perfect but I have it always nearby. My SL-5500 is on a way to new home where it will be used for developing Linux 2.6 drivers. Nokia 770 is game platform like it was. Tosa waits for someone who wants to work on improving its situation (it can be drivers work, images polishing etc). PalmOS devices are packaged in a box with many other not needed computer/electronics stuff.

For now I think that mainly Nokia N810 will be used (for fun and work). Zaurus c760 will be booted from time to time to test some things and so will Neo1973 GTA01Bv4 phone (this one is all time USB connected).

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