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First Review of Sharp's new Linux-based PDA

Hemos posted more than 12 years ago | from the pretty-cool-thing dept.

Handhelds 80

A reader writes "In this article, just posted at LinuxDevices.com, embedded developer Jerry Epplin takes a close-up look at Sharp's new Zaurus SL-5000D Linux/Java PDA developer edition, from both a user and developer point of view. In the article, Epplin says the SL-5000D demonstrates that "Linux has reached maturity as an operating system for handheld devices", and concludes by saying "Overall, the polish and quality of integration of the environment and applications are excellent. Their documentation and support are first rate.""

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Presenting (1)

Chardish (529780) | more than 12 years ago | (#2553443)

Ladies and Gentlemen, we give you the Anti-WinCE.

-Evan

Re:Presenting (-1)

cyborg_monkey (150790) | more than 12 years ago | (#2553460)

I am not wearing pants.

Re:Presenting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2554499)

Does this mean that I'm going to have to compile, debug and rewrite source code for my PDA too!! How Great! I bet all the software will never get out of the beta versions too! There's nothing more that I like to do then spend money on code and then have to rewrite it. Keep it up the good work!

Why I don't like trolls (-1)

CmderTaco (533794) | more than 12 years ago | (#2553453)

I believe I have made it clear, through my consistant down modding and IP banning of trolls, that I do not like trolls very much. I believe that Trolls are the most offensive type of human that we have ever seen. One can only assume that thier only purpose is to upset people, get reactions from people, and to humiliate people.

Here recently, the trolls have been focusing thier attacks more specifically the moderators and editors of this web site. I must say, that I have read such horrible postings from these trolls that, quite frankly, I am offended. I mean sure, there are a lot of people here who do not like JonKatz for one reason or another (mine is that he tends to post stories that are uninformed and ignorant, but that's beside the point.), but that is no reason for us to flame him so much every time he posts some stupid story. The fact is that myself, Hemos, JonKatz, cowboyNeal, Neal, michael, timothy, Roblimo, Cliff, HeUnique, sengan, emmitt, justin++, nate, and many others are all authors for this web site and you should start showing us just a little respect. I mean, it may be fun to make up little songs like the one posted here [slashdot.org] But it still hurts our feelings to see this sort of stuff. Our jobs are tough, and stuff like this just doesn't make it any easier. To think that we all spend so much of our time maintaining this web site just for you trolls to troll it up. Comments about me and JonKatz being homosexual partners or me and Hemos. Now, I am not going to say that these things are false, but there is no way that you guys actually know that about us, and it is none of your business either. Yes, it is true that I, CmdrTaco, am a homosexual, and a big one at that. Yes it is true that some times JonKats and I will be alone for extended periods of time. Sometimes, as we work together, he will brush up against me and I can't help but want to be alone with him. And don't get me started on micheal. But that's not my point at all. Some of your trolls don't even make sense. I mean, how many times can LinuxIsForAssholes post Can you imagine a Beowulf cluster of these?? Or how do Trollaxor and Trolligula and all the others keep coming up with these true stories about my homosexuality? All you trolls use this link [goatse.cx] in many of your trolls, why? Do you like that site? Did they get my good side? It is a good picture of me, but again, that's not my point. And what about all those damn trolls asking how we can be talking about things like the AOTC trailer in the wake of Sept. 11. The fact is, Slashdot doesn't care. We don't care how many people lost thier lives. All the innocent people. The only thing we even wonder is if some of the people were checking out Slashdot at the time of the attack. Oh, the other thing that sucks is that when the buildings went down we lost some companies that had Linux installations. Does that make us bad people, maybe. Does it make our bank accounts bigger through our constant advertising for stupid worthless producs? Most definatly.

Now, you people who have a different opinion than that which is expressed by the editors, prepare to be modded down. We don't like people who do not agree with our ignorant opinions. We want to silence you. You see, if you are silenced then the discussion is only done by those who all agree. When someone with a mind of thier own disagrees and comes on our website and see's that we all have the same opinion, then they will believe that our opinion must be right. It's kinda like Hitler during WWII. If you have a different opinion, you will be killed. You see enough people killed, you change your opinion. We like to think of ourselves as Borg. We are but 1 collective, none of which has a mind of thier own. People are a lot safer that way.

All in all, you can call use as many names as you want, but when it comes down to it, we (the editor) as just as much Trolls as you are. We are trolls with a different agenda. Our agenda is global mind control, and we want to stop you from letting thses people know that original thoughts are natural. We want them to think originality is a sign of weakness and stupidity.

Re:Why I don't like trolls (0)

cheese_wallet (88279) | more than 12 years ago | (#2553579)

My friend, that was sweetness.

Re:Why I don't like trolls (-1)

Flakeloaf (321975) | more than 12 years ago | (#2554190)

I find it difficult to believe that CmdrTaco would:

- misspell his own name and "defiintely", and make flagrant grammatical errors
- forget to close his tags
- have a six-digit account number
- link to goatse.cx in a post

From news.kde.org, too (2, Informative)

makapuf (412290) | more than 12 years ago | (#2553466)

from news.kde.org [slashdot.org] :
(this PDA runs Qt/PDA)

Trolltech and Sharp have announced a really spiffy-looking Linux palmtop, named "Zaurus". The device itself features a sliding (retractable) keyboard, a color display, a CF expansion slot (for memory or peripherals), an SD expansion slot (for secure memory storage or other peripherals), an IR port, a USB connector and a headset port. On the software side, the Zaurus uses Lineo's Embedix Linux; Trolltech's Qt/Embedded, Qt/Palmtop and Qt AWT GUI technologies; Insignia Solution's Jeode PDA Edition; and Opera Software's embedded web browser. Sharp is accepting pre-orders from the developer community for the SL-5000D developer unit (register here). With the continuing additions to kdenox, this might just be a great platform for KOffice/embedded.
Read More...

Re:From news.kde.org, too (1)

makapuf (412290) | more than 12 years ago | (#2553476)

sorry, bad URL : these [kde.org] are kde news

nice toy... (2, Interesting)

TechnoVooDooDaddy (470187) | more than 12 years ago | (#2553474)

.. and I predict it will be buried in my closet in 30 days or less...

Why? It's just another novelty. A few apps will be developed for it, sure, but without community support that's where it will stop. I'm sure it runs linux and that's all well and nice, but you know how DIFFICULT it is to make a application that will run in that space and actually be usable?

If you'd like a PDA for daily use as a useful TOOL check out http://www.handhelds.org [handhelds.org] those folks have got it nailed down to an art, with nice apps being release seems like every day.

Re:nice toy... (5, Informative)

Jay Carlson (28733) | more than 12 years ago | (#2554014)

but you know how DIFFICULT it is to make a application that will run in that space and actually be usable?

Why [desertscenes.net] yes [sourceforge.net] , I [sourceforge.net] do [huv.com] .

(OK, now that I've established my credentials... :-P )

You folks should react to new products differently. New Linux products are an opportunity, not a threat.

Let's do iPaq vs Zaurus first.

The Zaurus hardware architecture is substantially similar to the iPaq. Even if the kernel sources are maintained separately, you should be able to run the same distributions on the the Sharp as on the Compaq (once we do any needed X server changes). So if you're really dedicated to the handhelds.org community, this gives you the opportunity to choose between two hardware vendors and devices to run Familiar on. Competition is good, right?

Now, what about handhelds.org/familiar vs Zaurus Linux? Well, there's still a lot of lingering questions about the efficacy of the X11 architecture for handhelds. Sharp's commitment to QTE means they've spent a lot of resources on building a nice environment on top of it. So for you, the opportunity is to let Sharp spend a lot of money finding out how well the QTE architecture really works. And if they're right, because this is Open Source you have the opportunity to take the basis of their code and use it yourself. No risk.

What about the Java angle? Jeode [insignia.com] isn't Open Source. But PocketLinux [pocketlinux.com] is. (And appears to have some very active development lately.) If Jeode is doing some things right, PocketLinux gets to pick up the best of their ideas for free. The opportunity is to explore the viability of Java and alternatives for Java application architectures for handhelds, and again, at no cost to you.

Stop thinking of yourself as a member of the handhelds.org community, or the PocketLinux community, or the Agenda VR3 community.

Start thinking of yourself as a member of the Open Source community---with particular interests: handhelds, information management tools, multimedia, task mobility....

We don't know what the right answers are to all of the hard questions that face us; we don't even know all the questions. But we can share our results, change direction, and work on parts of the problems as we ourselves see fit. When companies produce Linux products, they're another research staff and contributor to this, not a dictator. That's the value proposition of Open Source in emerging technologies.

Re:nice toy... (1)

perlow (451482) | more than 12 years ago | (#2554196)

Representatives of the Familiar distribution have already stated that it WILL be ported to the Zaurus.

Jason Perlow
Moderator,
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/sharp-linux

Re:nice toy... (4, Interesting)

k4m3 (259891) | more than 12 years ago | (#2554102)

If you'd like a PDA for daily use as a useful TOOL

My PDA is a useful tool since I don't have to think about what or why it is running. I don't want to listen to kernel or OS upgrade, I don't want to hear about graphic toolkit and so on. What I want is :

  • power on
  • a quarter of second later, do some task _quickly_
  • power off
  • a quarter of second later, my PDA is out of my view

I don't want a keyboard, I don't want a CLI, I don't want a developper toy for developpers who are only looking for adding bells and whistles to functionnal apps.

Re:nice toy... (1)

Fringe (6096) | more than 12 years ago | (#2558959)

To each their own... I still use an HP 200LX precisely for the following reasons:

1. a CLI, allowing me to easily back up and restore data and perform other apps

2. Compatibility with my primary systems; I can run my inventory and other DOS programs on it.

3. I can EASILY write or port applications for it.

4. The keyboard, which is essential when entering long notes.

You use your PDA one way, I use mine a different way. Wince is fine for you, but woefully inadequate for me. The new Sharp is my fantasy-come-true!

But does it run Windows ? (4, Insightful)

tmark (230091) | more than 12 years ago | (#2553482)

Since the rejoinder to any WinCE machine is "Does it run Linux", I'm sure curious as to whether it runs Windows. Some geeks are interested in Windows machines, too, you know.

Re:But does it run Windows ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2554364)

Some geeks are interested in Windows machines, too, you know.

Not real geeks.

Re:But does it run Windows ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2554406)

Yes, real geeks.

Grow up, for god's sake.

Re:But does it run Windows ? (1)

DGolden (17848) | more than 12 years ago | (#2554633)

Few real geeks are interested in windows or linux. Most care a lot more about eating bugs and chicken heads.

That said, few people who know much about technology HONESTLY like windows. There are plenty who SAY they do, because their job or fortune is linked to the success of MS (You know who you are. Hi Jez!).

Re:But does it run Windows ? (0)

NGTV13 (240114) | more than 12 years ago | (#2556177)

Yeah, if someone likes windows, then let them have windows. It doesn't make them any less of a geek (and yes, I understand that we're arguing the symentacs of being a geek, which is in and of itself geeky). But, I for one run a windows machine and a linux machine, both with equal usage (Slackware 8.0 as a server, and winXP as a client). Adn, i'm not any expert of PDA's by any means, but, I would assume that on a tiny handheld, the OS wouldn't matter as much as on a large desktop, but I could be wrong.... (which I usually am)

Re:But does it run Windows ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2557914)

Mmmmm, chicken heads

--Remember where the huskies go--

Oh yes! (-1)

cyborg_monkey (150790) | more than 12 years ago | (#2553492)

Yes, I will spend $500 on a prototype (yes prototype, that is essentially what this is).

No supporting software, or accessories.

Only a complete moron (read: Linux zealot) would buy this device. It does not stand a chance against the existing application/peripheral base that you get with a Palm or PocketPC.

Re:Oh yes! (-1)

j0nkatz (315168) | more than 12 years ago | (#2554308)

Hello my fine primate friend!

My prediction...
Since there will be no software support for this device and since the hardware is identical to that which runs PocketPC. Sharp will realize they need to stay competitive and will release a PocketPC update for the device. A simple ROM Flash update should do the trick just fine. Even open sores zealot Alan Cox thinks this device running Lunix sucks! [slashdot.org]

real vs virtual keyboard (1)

spiny (87740) | more than 12 years ago | (#2553523)

>The keyboard itself is
similar to those found on the Blackberry email devices; you need some practice to get to
the point of pressing only one key at a time.

is there really any advantage having a 'real' keyboard thats so small - i've been using my palm pilot for a couple of years now and i'm quite happy with the onscreen keyboard.
in my opinion, the best bet would be to combine the two, have a touch sensitive keyboard layout separate from the screen.

phil.

Re:real vs virtual keyboard (1)

DaveHowe (51510) | more than 12 years ago | (#2554068)

You aren't forced to use the built-in keyboard - there is a handwriting recognition mode, a onscreen keyboard (pc layout) or a character picker (letter groups similar to mobile phone, but a little easier to use)

the built in keyboard takes quite a bit of getting used to, but you can get up to quite a respectiable typing speed with it, holding the device in both hands and "thumb typing".

Re:real vs virtual keyboard (0)

pa-guy (457151) | more than 12 years ago | (#2555380)

i've been using my palm pilot for a couple of years now and i'm quite happy with the onscreen keyboard.
Good god man, graffiti is so easy to learn, why would you be using the onscreen keyboard? Once in awhile I use the onscreen, but not often.

Re:real vs virtual keyboard (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2560082)

If you've ever composed a 5 page email on a RIM, the answer would be obvious. My hand cramps at the thought of doing the same thing with Graffitti.

See what QT handheld environment looks like, free (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2553528)

I took a look at QTs web site a few months ago, and was quite impressed with what they'd come up with for a handheld environment. And if you're curious, go take a look. Trolltech offers a demo disk to try it out on an x86 (self-bootable floppy). Here's the link.

http://www.trolltech.com/developer/download/qpe- di sks.html

Autonomy ??? (2, Interesting)

mirko (198274) | more than 12 years ago | (#2553535)

A friend of mine recently bought a Lisa/iPaq [www.lisa.de] which appears to have the following issues:
  • It is not that quick
  • It has around 2 hours of autonomy which (IMHO) is unacceptable regarding the mobile position it is supposed to fulfill.

I read the article but couldn't actually get an idea of the Zaurus' autonomy.

Could somebody answer me.

Doesn't matter what it runs (3, Insightful)

fireboy1919 (257783) | more than 12 years ago | (#2553539)

Its a PDA! I want it to do that!

Palm really has it figured out: apps that take very little memory or power, and a good handwriting recognition system.

WinCE and Pocket Windows just try to embed Windows, including the lack of speed and horrible handwriting recognition.

Now we give Linux a go. So far, it hasn't really been much of a PDA, just a port. If you have a full sized keyboard (not a little dinky one that's hard to use like this one), and a way to hook up a mouse, then you're fine. Barring that, the user interface is a pain.

What's my point? Use whatever codebase you want! Just give me an easy way to access and input my data - that's exactly what a personal digital assistant is for - NOT for general purpose computing, like a desktop.

Re:Doesn't matter what it runs (1)

trix_e (202696) | more than 12 years ago | (#2553983)

I agree with the point that it doesn't matter, but your point on WinCE is dated...

A year ago I would have agreed with you, however I've converted to the new Jornada 568, and while it's still on the slightly expensive side, it's freaking brilliant. It can recognize Graffiti so it was a simple tranisition for me, and the apps are great.

Yes, it's a resource hog, but the equipment is getting powerful enough that it runs without a hitch. PocketPC 2002 is a very nice OS, and the integration with my day to day organizer/email program Outlook is seamless. yes, it's all Windows-centric, but sometimes that's OK. Considering my office environment is Windows-centric whether I like it or not, this fits in perfectly. I've got a Wi-Fi CF card in it so I can roam around the office with email and a web browser at my fingertips at all times... and the browser *works*... in fact it works well to render "normal" sites, it does a great job of on the fly adjusting without requiring a stupid WAP gateway. I had Omnisky on my Palm Vx and frankly the anywhere connectivity was nice, it pretty much was too klunky to use effectivly, plus my mail app crashed constantly. I also had a blackberry for a while and the email integration was dead-on, it was a one trick pony... the net access on my Jornada has come in handy more times than I can count.

So... as soon as Ricochet is revived, I'm golden, until then, I think MSoft has got it right finally...

Re:Doesn't matter what it runs (-1)

j0nkatz (315168) | more than 12 years ago | (#2554351)

I love my 568 too!!!
Dont forget it has speech recognition too.

It just doesn't hit the mark (1)

seanfuller (265807) | more than 12 years ago | (#2553540)

A PDA Like this looks like it could be a real hoot to play with, but I still don't think it compares with the Palm Pilot. And it doesn't seem powerful enough to be the kind of [palm.com] Linux [linux.org] toy that I really want. And these things are never going to reach the price/performance ratio of something like a Gameboy [nintendo.com] . That is what I would really like is something around the price of a gameboy that runs linux and lets me write fairly simple games for. Or how about something about the size of a tomigachi that you could write games for and easily download them over a serial cable. And maybe access that serial cable from the games so you could interconnect them. Is there something like that available?

Interesting option (1)

cheese_wallet (88279) | more than 12 years ago | (#2553550)

I was originally going to post something negative here, but as I read the article, I came across this article [linuxdevices.com] on what Century Software [centurysoftware.com] has done [microwindows.org] working with the distro from handhelds.org. And other open software, like FLTK. [fltk.org] FLTK is a neat tool kit that uses OpenGL as its window renderer, and pretty much works on any os that has OpenGL libraries.

I was impressed enough to revise my original opinion of Linux on a PDA. Which was the thought that it is neat to run Linux on a PDA, but why bother? I use a PDA to sync my calendar and emails. Everytime msoft changes express or whatever, the linux equivelants are broken, so why fight it?

But in reading what Century has done, well, it hasn't changed that opinion, but their package is cool enough that it makes me want to install it on my Ipaq anyway.

plane crash in new york (-1)

count_sporkula (446625) | more than 12 years ago | (#2553552)

hopefully an accident, any news on how many were onboard? if there were any survivors?

Re:plane crash in new york (-1)

cyborg_monkey (150790) | more than 12 years ago | (#2553561)

of course CNN and MSNBC are overloaded.

Re:plane crash in new york (-1)

count_sporkula (446625) | more than 12 years ago | (#2553596)

yeah, bbc is busy too
i see the DOW has dropped 200 points already
isn't this what the terrorists set out to achieve? mass panic at the slightest thing?

ah well.

Math/Engineering APPS (2, Insightful)

Kronik Gamer (518652) | more than 12 years ago | (#2553557)

Sure, this device may not seem that useful now, but in the future (if developers find that it is a viable open source platform)it may be useful for students and scientists in the future. If someone wanted to write a special program to say, calculate the materials required to hold a certain mass on a bridge, they could just port it to the PDA and not worry about lugging around a laptop or waiting to use their PC back at the office if they needed this kind of information in the field. This is just one example, but I am sure that many of you already have apps that you would like to port to a PDA.

Gathering data (1)

Tenebrious1 (530949) | more than 12 years ago | (#2554545)

No one is going to calcualte the materials needed for a bridge while standing there overlooking a river. Maybe 1000 years ago when they were deciding exactly how many logs needed to support three columns of heavy cavalry, but not today. Surveyors go out and take measurements. Engineers go out and take core samples of the ground. They do traffic surveys. Once the data is gathered, then they design the bridge. They don't design it in bits and pieces in the field.

PDAs have found limited use in the field, but mostly to gather data and take notes. That data is fed later into a full sized 'puter that does the number crunching and spits out results.

For example, in many places around the world forest and park rangers use PDAs to track animal sightings. Sure, with a powerful PDA they could crunch those numbers, but what would it mean? Nothing. Not until all the data from all the rangers is collected, then you have useful data about animal numbers, migration patterns, etc. Data from one unit is pretty useless by itself.

Still, assuming with wireless, you communicate with other wireless units and manage to do some collective computing to get the results. Now what does the ranger do with the data while in the field? The data will be useful in the larger picture, but for the individual ranger? Maybe he can tell hikers which parts of his range the bears are gathering.

Which comes to the point, it will probably find a niche. But I doubt it will make any significant impact.

Re:Gathering data (1)

civilizedINTENSITY (45686) | more than 12 years ago | (#2556164)

If it could run Mathematica then most Math, Physics, and Chemistry students would glady replace their calculators. Give it an HP-48 layout, with popup mathematica palettes. Sweet. Data collection? Boring... Wrapping up that late night hairly integral, then polishing off a few PDEs? Priceless.

amazing priorities (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2553573)

A plane crashes in queens, NY, and you want to talk about a linux-based PDA? No wonder VA Redink is approaching bankruptcy faster than CowboyNeal scarfs a dozen donuts.

No Windows tax, but a Java tax? (2)

Florian Weimer (88405) | more than 12 years ago | (#2553575)

It seems that this is quite close to a Free Software PDA. Of course, there is that huge junk of proprietary Java stuff on it, but perhaps it's usable even without it. The hardware specs are not too overwhelming, though, it seems Sharp is a bit behind Compaq in this area.

(There's also the Trolltech announcement [trolltech.com] , if you are interested in some pictures.)

Re:No Windows tax, but a Java tax? (1)

Taurine (15678) | more than 12 years ago | (#2554098)

The Java environment is what attracts me to this device more than anything. The practicality of Linux and the development bliss of Java are a killer combination. I have been putting off the purchase of a Palm that can run Java for some time due to the lack of developer docs for it. Now Sharp deliver Java, Linux and solid documentation!

GUI woes (3, Insightful)

mj6798 (514047) | more than 12 years ago | (#2553696)

I checked with Sharp. The device does not run X11 and, according to Sharp, there are no plans of offering it. That means that any application you write for the SL-5000 has to be either in Java or it has to be written for Qt/Embedded. Forget about easily porting existing applications you may have unless they happen to be written in Qt already. I suspect that this will prove to be a fatal limitation, but time will tell.

I'll stick with my Palm as an organizer, and with the iPaq using the Familiar distribution [handhelds.org] for developing special purpose handheld software. You can pooh-pooh X11 all you want, it works well, it uses no more resources than QTE, it's free, and it manages to run Gtk+, FLTK, wxWindows, and Qt, all on the same screen.

Re:GUI woes (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2554303)

Its a REAL shame that they are not going to include PyQt on it..

Re:GUI woes - woe, no X11 by heavens! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2556202)

Apparently few seem to agree with you (and some others) that X11 works "well" on this current crop of handhelds. "Well" is obviously a relative term but the performance bar are other existing embedded systems as QT Palmtop Environment and Microsoft CE. The design of these devices don't appear to be so amenable to an competitive X11 implementation.

At least the Sharp has a USB port (unlike the unreliable Agenda) so you can network these quickly obsolete handhelds and create a Beowulf cluster ... a supercomputer in your pocket(s) (with an X11 interface!).

I hope one day Linux will stop using X windows too (0)

ihxo (16767) | more than 12 years ago | (#2556986)

I hope one day Linux will stop using X windows too actually ..

Re:GUI woes - woe, no X11 by heavens! (2)

mj6798 (514047) | more than 12 years ago | (#2557704)

Apparently few seem to agree with you (and some others) that X11 works "well" on this current crop of handhelds. "Well" is obviously a relative term but the performance bar are other existing embedded systems as QT Palmtop Environment and Microsoft CE.

Well, on the iPaq, you can actually compare this on the same hardware: I find X11 runs better than WinCE (in addition to being more robust and easier to program).

I haven't been able to do a side-by-side comparison with Qt/Embedded, but according to Troll Tech's own specs, it seems to require more resources than X11.

At least the Sharp has a USB port

The Sharp hardware is nice. Let's hope they'll see the light and support a completely standard Linux environment.

Re:GUI woes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2557042)

It's open source, port X11 to it if you like.

Use the source Luke! (2)

Mandelbrute (308591) | more than 12 years ago | (#2557045)

The device does not run X11
You have the kernel source.

You have the X source.

You have the hardware docs.

You have the right to modify the source.

I seem to recall seeing on ./ that there is a serious effort going on to produce a very lightweight X again.

Just because sharp haven't done everything for you doesn't mean it is useless - it looks like it could be the toy that the Newton promised to be but never was (even the calculator app used undocumented features).

Forget about easily porting existing applications
Try, but it still should be easier than porting to a palm.

Re:Use the source Luke! (2)

mj6798 (514047) | more than 12 years ago | (#2557699)

Just because sharp haven't done everything for you doesn't mean it is useless

Well, if you use X11 on it, you effectively lose all the built-in apps, which want to write directly to the screen buffer. That, or you have to do a lot of really hard work on X11 to make it integrate with Qt/Embedded. I think getting a different Linux PDA is a whole lot easier.

Quick and nasty hack - console switching? (2)

Mandelbrute (308591) | more than 12 years ago | (#2561064)

Well, if you use X11 on it, you effectively lose all the built-in apps, which want to write directly to the screen buffer.
How about letting user input switch between the two display systems by poking an icon with a stylus or something? Also, your other idea (X in a window on the display which is owned by another display system) has some merit - XFree86 on win* works that way. The ideal would be to recompile the existing apps for X on that platform when X is working on that platform.

LIES (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2553870)

"Overall, the polish and quality of integration of the environment and applications are excellent. Their documentation and support are first rate."

...yeah, you only have to dig through six thousand HOWTOS before you find out your FeebleVetzer 3401 isn't supported because no potato-chip eating slacker decided to write a driver for it in a fit of pique one day. And when you get angry about this, the answer is: "So write one yourself!"

Linux: OS of Assholes.

Re:LIES (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2554440)

Hoo, hoo, hoo! Ohh... my... sides...

Stop! You're killing me. God, that's too funny.

Focus on Strengths (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2553917)

Clearly, this is a battle that Linux can win. One of the big strengths of Linux is its scalability. The other is the ability to compile on multiple platforms. These strengths MUST be exploited for Linux to be a strong commercial success.

If there are 2 fronts where Linux can win, it is in the handheld arena and the server arena. It's my opinion that (for now, at least) the desktop war is futile. It will take a great deal of time before Linux can gain substantial ground in the desktop market. BUT, the handheld market can easily be dominated by Linux within the next few years. The only problem is that of an interface.

The Qt Palmtop Environment (QPE) is nice, but not nice enough. The interface borrows too much from WinCE to stand out. Another issue is that of Qt's licensing. Look at the PalmOS software sites. There are hundreds of programs available, many of them free. There are also programs which cost less than $20. This is a big motivating factor for many developers. Because of Qt's licensing, a developer would have to shell out $2400 in order to sell a simple $15 program he/she wrote. I think that this is cost prohibitive for many people. And, as we have all seen in the past, a platform is only as good as the applications available for it.

These issues can be overcome by Qt (or another organization) releasing a library that has a reasonable (or free) cost, and can be used for commercial handheld development. Not all developers want to create free software. Many would like to be able to make $5 or $10 from their prodcuts. The second thing that needs to happen is an innovative interface. One such project is the Onyx PDA project. Work has been developing on this for a while, and it's quite impressive. It will be GPL, and is based on Qt 3.x. Look for a SourceForge project site for it really soon. I met with the guy developing it and he gave me a little demo, and it was looking good. The game plan he has laid out for it sounds like it could be very good for users, as well as a lot of fun for developers.

tiny QWERTY only helps "hunt and peck"ist (1)

GodWasAnAlien (206300) | more than 12 years ago | (#2554099)

If you know how to type and do not have baby hands, this tiny keyboard will not help you.

If you know how to type, it is likely that your hands know where the keys are, but you eyes do not.

Re:tiny QWERTY only helps "hunt and peck"ist (2, Interesting)

Mactire_Dearg (211446) | more than 12 years ago | (#2554678)

I do know how to type, and my ring finger is size 15 so I definitely dont have "baby hands", and I love my blackberry based pager keyboard. I can do well over 40 words/minute with it using my thumbs. I have been praying for someone to get a clue and add one of these on to a PDA. All I can say is THANK YOU SHARP and GET THIS THING ON THE MARKET ASAP!!!

Re:tiny QWERTY only helps "hunt and peck"ist (1)

matp (42758) | more than 12 years ago | (#2557808)

FYI, the psion range of PDAs (arguably the first PDA) have had built in keyboards for a number of years. See http://www.psion.com

Forget Linux based, this is Linux Friendly (1, Redundant)

JabberWokky (19442) | more than 12 years ago | (#2554152)

The nice things about this are more subtle than just the fact that it *runs* Linux. First off, the sync software provided by Sharp is for Linux (and Windows). I believe the very first case of a PDA being shipped with a Linux based sync package.

Second, Sharp is setting up a totally Free developer site for the unit. Free as in Speech as well. After the disappointing "They just don't get it" with the Yopi, this is the first real, corporate sponsored open source development site for a device that I've seen. Most companies just "tolerate" open dev sites (like those for the Palm or Tivo).

Third, a keyboard (and I've no experience with this format, but have seen people get quite fast with the blackberry in a week) makes shell commands easy. And this puppy has a shell! We'll see if it's there on the consumer unit, but here's hoping it will be. Ironic that the minimalistic commands created for teletype (ls, rm, mv, cp, etc) make this the perfect environment for a minikeyboard. "cp Myf[tab]~[enter]" is 10 keypresses.

--
Evan

Forget Linux based, this is Linux Friendly (3, Insightful)

JabberWokky (19442) | more than 12 years ago | (#2554166)

The nice things about this are more subtle than just the fact that it *runs* Linux. First off, the sync software provided by Sharp is for Linux (and Windows). I believe the very first case of a PDA being shipped with a Linux based sync package.

Second, Sharp is setting up a totally Free developer site for the unit. Free as in Speech as well. After the disappointing "They just don't get it" with the Yopi, this is the first real, corporate sponsored open source development site for a device that I've seen. Most companies just "tolerate" open dev sites (like those for the Palm or Tivo).

Third, a keyboard (and I've no experience with this format, but have seen people get quite fast with the blackberry in a week) makes shell commands easy. And this puppy has a shell! We'll see if it's there on the consumer unit, but here's hoping it will be. Ironic that the minimalistic commands created for teletype (ls, rm, mv, cp, etc) make this the perfect environment for a minikeyboard. "cp Myf[tab]~[enter]" is 10 keypresses.

--
Evan

sounds cool, I like free (1)

Erris (531066) | more than 12 years ago | (#2554573)

The developer site, however, does not look as promissing as it could be. They seem to have their own little development environment and make no mention of source codes and compilers outside of JAVA. From their develpor's site:

Download development documentation and tools.

Any Java applications that run in this environment will also run on the models that will be introduced for international markets, starting with the US market. There is an added business benefit for developers in that Java applications developed in this fashion will extend your business opportunities in the Japanese market.

While this is nice, and the PDA itself is stellar looking, it's not exactly free. If I can't download and compile newer versions of BASH, for example, Sharp is taking less than full advantage of freedom's blessings. The same thing can be said of all the software that runs the platform itself. I'd like someone to tell me that I've overlooked something. If not, Sharp has failed to grasp how free software works.

Re:sounds cool, I like free (1)

jhecking (27888) | more than 12 years ago | (#2555111)

Have a look at http://more.sbc.co.jp/slj/linux.asp [sbc.co.jp] . It says right there

>>*Embedix on Sharp SL-5000D Source Code:(COMING SOON)
Source code of Embedix implemented on Sharp SL-5000D
*Kernel Upgrading Guide for Sharp SL-5000D :(COMING SOON)
Document how to obtain the kernel source code, how to modify and build the kernel on your desktop, and how to upgrade the Kernel of your Sharp SL-5000D. << (emphasis mine)

Sounds like everything you need to rebuild the whole software environment will be available soon (whenever that is...<g>).

Re:Forget Linux based, this is Linux Friendly (1)

10am-bedtime (11106) | more than 12 years ago | (#2557410)

egad, emacs does it in 3 (including the invoking RET).

Re:Forget Linux based, this is Linux Friendly (2)

JabberWokky (19442) | more than 12 years ago | (#2558074)

Dosen't matter -- the farking thread is "redundant", according to the brilliant moderators.

--
Evan

I'm sure it would, but... (1)

Sukashi (528772) | more than 12 years ago | (#2554179)

we'd have to get a huge group of people together to put in hundreds of hours to create a windows-like OS that has none of the original source code. After that, we could license it in a way that anyone can change the original source, but they have to let others change and improve their source in turn. After that, I bet we could even port into a PC architecture!

lp (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2554214)

last post. mourn the dead from the AA story, dont post inane babble about Linux.

Battery Life Too Short (3, Insightful)

Salamander (33735) | more than 12 years ago | (#2554585)

According to the LinuxDevices link, the battery life is from 2 hours (backlight on) to eight hours (backlight off). Am I missing something? What good is a PDA that can't even go a full workday without suckling from the electrical teat? I'd gladly accept a smaller monochrome screen, a slower processor, and less memory if that meant a battery life that was at least a couple of days. As a point of reference, my Visor (which meets the above description) goes for several weeks on a pair of rechargeable NiMH AAA batteries. No matter how cool the technology in the Zaurus might be, it doesn't seem all that useful with such a short battery life.

Anyone who's thinking of buying something like this should stop to consider whether it's worth spending $400 for a few days of "gee whiz" before the new toy ends up in the bottom of the junk drawer with all of the other "seemed like a good idea at the time" gadgets. There are much more cost-effective forms of entertainment.

Re:Battery Life Too Short (1)

addaon (41825) | more than 12 years ago | (#2555286)

One of the issues here is the definition of 'battery life.' I tend to agree with you, in general, that these fancy new PDA's have too short life. But I challenge you to do an experiment, the same thing I did with my (palm compatable) TRGPro a few weeks ago. The battery life listed (2-8 hours) is valid under continuous usage. Turn your Visor on, and use it (on fresh batteries) until the batteries die. Don't let the screen go off. Don't let the processor go fully idle for hours at a time. You'll find that the 'weeks' of battery life you're accustomed to (and my palm has lasted over five weeks between charges, under more-or-less normal usage) corresponds to many fewer hours than you expect; with mine, it finally croaked after 12 hours, with no backlight on. That is, it's only 50% more life than this has. (On the other hand, the palms run on AAA's...)

Re:Battery Life Too Short (2)

Salamander (33735) | more than 12 years ago | (#2555565)

One of the issues here is the definition of 'battery life.

It would be nice if they'd give a "standby" time number like they do for celphones. Eight hours of continuous use might be adequate, but I wonder how well it compares to Palm devices in non-continuous use? How thoroughly does it sleep? Palm stuff is very carefully designed - both hardware and software - so that battery use is reduced by 99% when the device is not actually in use, which is why a single set of batteries can give you weeks of occasional use. How deeply does the StrongArm sleep in the Zaurus? How about all that RAM? How well does Linux take to being comatose like that? Even if the batteries are good enough for eight hours continuously, it's a pain if I'm losing significant capacity even when it's in my pocket so that I have to plug it in every day to keep it at that capacity.

Re:Battery Life Too Short (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2555364)

I believe most people would have it plugged in the cradle in the office to connect to their PC (and recharging).

They would then take take it to a meeting and afterwards put it back in the cradle.

I can't think of a lot of cases where it would be used for 8 hours solid - can anyone else ?

Re:Battery Life Too Short (2)

Salamander (33735) | more than 12 years ago | (#2555512)

I believe most people would have it plugged in the cradle in the office to connect to their PC (and recharging).
They would then take take it to a meeting and afterwards put it back in the cradle.

I already have a device that I can leave plugged in at my desk and then take to meetings. It's called a laptop, and it's a hell of a lot better suited to that role than a PDA is. The whole point of a PDA is to go beyond where you'd take a laptop, which very often means into situations where you don't have an electrical outlet handy.

I can't think of a lot of cases where it would be used for 8 hours solid - can anyone else ?

That's an easy one. I'd like to take my PDA with me on a two- or three-day business trip, without having to pack my cradle as well. I have a Visor backup module for exactly that reason. While I'm on planes (six hours each way, across the country or across the Atlantic) I might very well use it more than two thirds of the time for a combination of jotting down notes and playing games to kill time. I'll certainly be using it when I'm at my destination to store directions and new contact information, take notes, etc. Some of that time I'll be using the backlight. Altogether I'd say 15-20 hours of continuous use between visits to the cradle is not out of the question.

That's 8 hours of *active* use. (2)

Russ Nelson (33911) | more than 12 years ago | (#2557089)

I've left mine off-cradle all day, and it's done everything I've asked of it.
-russ

I hate to say it, but this just isn't interesting (5, Interesting)

tgd (2822) | more than 12 years ago | (#2554606)

Flame suit on, but whats the point of this? I bought an iPaq last week with the intention of putting one of the various Linux distributions on it, but haven't.

Why? Simple. I decide that I, like the vast majority of people who buy PDA's, want to use it for something more than a gimmicky toy.

I hate Microsoft products as much as the next guy -- I've been running Linux since 1992, almost exclusively. I have precisely one PC running a Microsoft OS (a Toshiba Libretto that I use for running diagnostic and performance data logging software for my car, which only runs on Windows). But the iPaq will be staying Pocket PC until there are applications available for it on Linux. (But of course, will they be QT applications or X applications?)

Examples:
Media Player 7.1 rocks on the iPaq. Nice big compact flash card and I can carry a movie or at least a TV show to watch on the train.
Vindigo: no problem finding restaurants or bars in Boston. Always know what movies are available.

Avantgo: I have 4 meg of news cached on it, very handy over the weekend when the girlfriend was off shopping, or I was waiting for the T.

Pocket Streets: Well, anyone who's ever driven in Boston would immediately see the usefulness of this.

Mame: Well, duh. I hope this is at least avaiable on Linux for the iPaq.

Dashboard: Excellent replacement UI for Pocket PC.

It pains me (a lot) to say it, but Microsoft has a superior product. Source code for the OS is of no fundamental use to me -- this isn't a desktop box. License fees are clearly negligible. The iPaq was $299 for a 64 meg model, essentially with the same hardware specs as this one running Linux, only $100 cheaper.

So where's the benefit other than the sheer geekiness of it? Being able to say I CAN run Linux on it covers that need in my soul, plus if anyone rips on me I can point out I hacked Linux onto three Virgin WebPlayers, an Audrey (sort of), and an iOpener at home, and my Tivo has ethernet. Installing Linux on foreign hardware just isn't that cool any more.

So basically, this Linux-on-a-PDA craze is interesting from an intellectual standpoint, but its a LONG ways away from being commercially useful, and this product will probably bomb as quickly as every other non-compatible PDA out there. Especially at $400+!

Re:I hate to say it, but this just isn't interesti (1)

joshwa (24288) | more than 12 years ago | (#2554997)

Where did you get a 37xx for $299? I've been looking, and even the 36xx series go for $350-400...

thanks...

Re:I hate to say it, but this just isn't interesti (2)

tgd (2822) | more than 12 years ago | (#2555652)

CompUSA, last week they had a $399 sale with a $100 rebate. I think the rebate is still going on, but I think the sale ended, so its probably more like $350 after rebate now.

Re:I hate to say it, but this just isn't interesti (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2555319)

Arg, you just mentioned you have a girlfriend. They all hate you now.

I've played with one (2, Informative)

tvf (63451) | more than 12 years ago | (#2555013)

It's a very nice handheld. The SD and CF support is very nice (like Handera). I like the screen a lot, it's very crisp and readable, and it has good performance. You can program it in Java (Personal Java 1.2 compliant, which means a JDK 1.1.8 level, but still pretty good, and with some Java2 extensions) or Linux (you can download the cross-compilation tools from Sharp's develop site at http://developer.sharpsec.com). The Qt Palmtop is a good start, but my complaint is too much emphasis on flash (3D icons) and not enough on some nice features (like categories in the address book). I also wish it had a single-button beam feature for a business card (like the Palm's all do). It beats the crap out of an Agenda VR-3 or an iPaq running PocketLinux. If you look at it as their first entry in the market, then it's a great first step.

Re:I've played with one (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2555415)

Yes, but the big difference is that you can change it (pretty easily) to make it do anything you like !

The changes you mentioned do sound usefull and someone may implement them - or if you really want them - you can.

That is the idea behind OpenSource.

BTW there is nothing wrong with 'flash' - It's what the punters want (plus the Zaurus is plenty fast enough to support it).

Zaurus is quite amazing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2555347)

The Zaurus series has been around for ages, and the PDA have been more advanced (until recent) than most in the US. Last time I've checked out a Zaurus, about two years ago, in Japan, Zaurus as car navigation helpers plus internet access were big.

Curiously, like the electronics with magneto-optical technology (MO and MD), Zaurus hasn't been as big in the States as it was in Japan.

A thought... (2)

FWMiller (9925) | more than 12 years ago | (#2555404)

The only reason I use a PDA is to keep my contacts and schedule, maybe a note here and there. I recently got a Palm-powered cell phone and pitched my PDA. Anybody else wondering if PDA enabled cell phones will kill the standalone PDA market?



FM

I've played with one (1)

mtm (10808) | more than 12 years ago | (#2556341)

And I have to say that it is the first PDA that I like better than my aging Pilot (original U.S Robotics Palm, upgraded to a 3). I use linux on my laptop and my home machine and I am a professional java developer. This thing is exactly what I have been looking for. Now I can easily write custom software for my PDA. I could never get into the whole palm development mess. Just to mac-ish for my tastes.

Also, this thing uses the same Li-ion batteries as my Canon S100 camera, so I can carry around a spare and use it in either (the Canon really, really likes batteries...).

Maybe I'm out of touch, but this thing is fast. I mean, there is this 3d java applet that was packed on it and it just flew. The guy who owned it told me that there is supposed to be a 802.11b option coming out for it. Must... control... urge... to spend... money...

(p.s. The keyboard rocks. Noodling around in the terminal was great)

Perl on Sharp Linux PDA? (1)

reedw (536167) | more than 12 years ago | (#2557128)

I am hoping that a Linux PDA will offer
Linux features (not available on WinCE),
like perl! And, would love to have my perl
Linux/Win-compatible PIM on a palmtop device.

However, I understand the Sharp Linux PDA
does not come with perl, and I do not know
how difficult it would be to load perl.

Any thoughts on this?
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