Comments on: Switch Your Palm to Linux

Empower Technologies Inc. has announced that it will soon be releasing Linux DA O/S DB v1.0, which replaces the Palm OS in some models but still remains fully compatible with Palm's hardware. Using the open source Linux kernel, Empower Technologies has created the first Linux compatible OS scaled down for the Motorola Dragonball CPU.

A demo version of Linux DA O/S for Palm IIIx and IIIxe, along with a user manual, will be available for free download at noon PST. The full versions can be preordered. The consumer version will be $40 and the professional one, which adds an SDK and tech support, will be $60.

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I.M. Anonymous @ 7/18/2001 10:41:38 AM #
interesting . . .

(me like)

Why not the III?

I.M. Anonymous @ 7/18/2001 10:36:12 AM #
Just curious -- it's got flash RAM too...

Or is it because the code is written for the EZ?

K. Tran

RE: Why not the III?
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/18/2001 11:27:15 AM #
The units that they are supporting all are from Palm, are monochrome, and most important of all, have the Dragonball EZ processor. The Palm III uses the originall DragonBall.


ganoe @ 7/18/2001 10:55:39 AM #
At the prices they're selling this for ($40/$60), it's going to go over like a lead balloon. It'll need to look and work a lot better than Palm OS (which I doubt) to have any chance at those prices.

Since this is supposedly Linux, shouldn't at least some of this be freely available?? Something doesn't seem quite right here.

RE: prices!?
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/18/2001 11:03:17 AM #
In order for this to be a success, it will need strong developer support. Charging for the SDK doesn't seem to be the best means to achieve this.

-Dr. Bob

RE: prices!?
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/19/2001 5:38:36 PM #
This is not a mass-market product anyway. It's pretty limited to propeller-heads, who will pay for the toy.

RE: prices!?
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/19/2001 11:52:55 PM #
Actually, it's not freeware, its open source. Which means that the 'free' part does not necessarily mean free from cost or price. Its 'free' comes from the 'freedoms' involved in its source code being 'free' to every one to update and change. Just a little clarification for those not familiar with Linux, the GPL and the Open Source movement.


Also available for Palm Vx

I.M. Anonymous @ 7/18/2001 11:01:03 AM #

Check out the store link on their website. It's not just for the III series!

RE: Also available for Palm Vx
Ed @ 7/18/2001 11:08:38 AM #
Thanks. I edited the article a bit to reflect this.

News Editor
Palm Infocenter


I.M. Anonymous @ 7/18/2001 11:35:42 AM #
My Palms biggest strength is the software I can load on to it.

If I put Linux on my Palm, my main reason for using the Palm (the software) goes away.

Interesting science experiment, though.

RE: Why?
geekd @ 7/18/2001 1:11:03 PM #
I'm a Linux developer (server & desktop apps) and usually the reason why people do this is "Because they can".

It's fun. People enoy doing it.

Now, why they think they can sell it and base a business off of it, I don't know. I wish them luck, but if you really want a Linux PDA, there are several. The Agenda is pretty cool, and porting a desktop linux app to it is trivial. Unless this new linux OS for the Palm runs X and useses standard gcc libs, porting is gonna be a pain.

my 2 cents american.

-dave blood

RE: Why?
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/18/2001 1:48:03 PM #
I agree... Here I am no longer a Palm user, but when I was that was the biggest factor which drew me to the Palm was the over-whelming software base availible to it. In fact when I left the Palm platform all together that was still my biggest struggle, was knowing I would loose most of that software base...and as it was mentioned ther are already a few good linux based PDA's already on the market... I can't see what other apps will be availible that will work well with this... But than again... I guess sometimes the "Geek" factor may just drive this OS enough to be profitable and even usuable with eventually apps for this ver of OS for the Palm...from having people d/l it and installing it...just because they can.

Just another parody

I.M. Anonymous @ 7/18/2001 11:55:26 AM #
Probably the best prank since the 505 contrast hack!
You had me going there for a while.


I.M. Anonymous @ 7/18/2001 11:59:14 AM #
Must be a bitch to use graffiti on the command line!

RE: Damn
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/19/2001 12:18:01 AM #
Ha! Ha! Ha! Good one!

Just say "Why"

I.M. Anonymous @ 7/18/2001 12:02:44 PM #
Isn't it a shame that nobody ever stops what they are doing to ask "why" anymore? I can't even think of a single reason someone would want to run Linux on their Palm. To save the $10 cost of a Palm OS license?

RE: Just say
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/18/2001 12:24:30 PM #
I thought the only reason why Linux was around was just so that the pocket protector crowd could thumb thier noses at microsoft.

Palm aint' microsoft.

You miss the point
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/18/2001 1:19:33 PM #
Everyone here saying "Why" and "They can't compete with the free and better PalmOS" miss the point.

Linux is huge in embedded systems. This is an OS to power industrial electronic devices like communication routers, barcode scanners, any kind of smart electronic device. Having a version in Palm OS just means a company developing a tool/product can piggyback on top of the huge libraries of free Linux code as well as leverage the cost effectiveness and availability of off the shelf Palm hardware.

This OS is set to compete with WinCE. WinCE was designed to power your refridgerator, your car stereo, your electric toothbrush, your toaster, ...

Palm have already said they were willing to let "MS corner the OS market for toasters"

RE: Just say
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/18/2001 6:47:36 PM #
I've developed for embedded systems, and Linux is NOT the holy grail, (t least not yet, or any time soon).

Many embedded systems don't need a RTOS (Realtime Operating System), and there are lots of them already around. QNX is one of the best and has been doing embeddeds for longer then Linux with a much smaller footprint and low cost.

Linux might be nice for Internet Appliances, but there are plenty of TCP/IP stacks aleady available.

If people are REALLY SERIOUS about realtime/industrial/controller software development would be wise to use Forth (like Quartus Forth), or simple stick to good'ole C. (C++ is way to "heavy" and unrealiable for embedded software development).

Just my two cents as a computer architect and engineer...

-Brette Blatchley

web address

I.M. Anonymous @ 7/18/2001 12:50:46 PM #
what's the url for empower?
RE: web address
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/19/2001 12:27:59 AM #

post screenshots

I.M. Anonymous @ 7/18/2001 3:38:41 PM #
..if you've installed it. This awesome company has little info about it on their page, let alone screenshots


RE: post screenshots
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/18/2001 5:14:27 PM #
Im certainly not going to risk my Palm on an OS for Desktops (PPC anyone?). This company has no screenshots, whitepapers, etc. Looks like an amateur made the website, short on content.

On the other hand, I like to see alternatives in case Palm tanks, or someone buys them, throws out PalmOS and bloats it.

RE: post screenshots
Admin @ 7/19/2001 10:30:40 AM #
This German site has an English mini-review and a few screenshots.

Editor in Chief

...and I would want to do this....why?

I.M. Anonymous @ 7/18/2001 4:02:28 PM #
What's the point?

RE: ...and I would want to do this....why?
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/23/2001 5:46:40 AM #
fun i guess. however, it made me think linux on your palm could make the os more robust IF
palm eventually makes the palm os linux based. this would get palm more sales from linux users
(all 12 of us j/k) and also support from the linux community. The more the "foes" of ms work
together, the better chance they have to survive. This linux da at least shows Palm moving to a
linux based OS is feasible, but I don't know if this would work out for their plan to make money off
their licensees. On the other hand, perhaps palm could successfully go software only if they
became (or bought) a succesful linux disributor. If they could make linux user friendly enough for a
palm, then it should be posibble to make desktop release just as simple.

What for?

I.M. Anonymous @ 7/18/2001 4:01:06 PM #
Unless there is good reason for this why would I bother. My Palm does everything I need already so why bother with an experiement that will most likely cause many of the programs I have not to run. I'm sure they developed this for a Linux based PDA and figured why not also make it Palm compatible to see if they can generate additional revenue of the large Palm base.
I don't mind experiementing on a 2nd home PC but I'm not going experiment on my only PDA, especially for $60.

It is available now...

I.M. Anonymous @ 7/18/2001 4:31:31 PM #
Linux DA O/S for Palm IIIx, IIIxe at

Linux DA O/S for Palm Vx
Coming Soon!


RE: It is available now...
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/18/2001 4:47:14 PM #
Just tried installing in on NT 4.0 and got this error:

1152: Error extracting
C:\TEMP\_is1B6\LinuxDA.msi to the temporary


Bummer! Bug ridden!

RE: It is available now...
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/18/2001 5:19:31 PM #
You probably right, but just in case..

Ive seen that error when you disk is full or you dont have write privleges in that directory. Some companies lock down NTWKS pretty tight and wont let you install stuff.

Do some sceenshots if you get it running..good luck.

Experiences with package...

I.M. Anonymous @ 7/18/2001 6:44:23 PM #
This package includes the manual and the ROM file, which you are supposed to use the Palm tools to install.

The manual is more complete than expected (especially given the complete lack of information available on their web site). It seems that the ROM package includes most of what the base Palm ROM includes (scheduler, contacts, etc). They haven't included a Hotsync utility, nor do they support handwriting recognition as of yet, but they are both planned for the general release. It not only has a GUI (according to the documentation), but the GUI is very close to the look and feel of PalmOS. In fact, it is almost disappointing that someone looking at the screen would probably not notice that it is Linux and not PalmOS at first glance

Now, having said this, I have not tried to install this, because I have not had success trying this ROM in my Palm OS Emulator software. I really suggest to them to get this little "bug" worked out if they want to attract developers.

Finally, to my surprise, (and against common expectations expressed in this comment list) there is no "shell" program, which you would really expect from a Linux-based system.


TT @ 7/18/2001 7:21:56 PM #
Looking at the majority of the package, I am extremely disappointed. The reasons will follow:
1. The look'n'feel is exactly PalmOSish ... right down to the little lock icons for copy protected databases in "beam"
2. The ROM is non-standard, and cannot be emulated
3. The price (this is LINUX, WHAT THE HECK?) is ridiculous
Conclusion: I am really wondering if this is not just PalmOS with a few additions/subtractions and the GUI changed ever so slightly. Even the "Prefs" app has similar tabs and forms. Whoever would purchase this is a fool. The biggest shock is there is no shell. If there was a shell I would cast aside doubt, but I truly do think this is PalmOS, modified.

RE: Worth?
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/18/2001 9:20:27 PM #
I don't believe that this is just "repackaged" PalmOS (it would be better quality if it were). I would believe that some sort of handwriting recognition would be there, if it were. Although many of the screens in the documentation look like their Palm counterparts, they are still a lot less pollished than Palm. I doubt that they would make changes to deliberately make it look less pollished.

In Summary

I.M. Anonymous @ 7/18/2001 10:36:01 PM #
1. This is pure drivel
2. Linux for $40/60 bucks!?!
3. Graffiti'ing the command line???

If it was OpenSource... then we'd talk. If you want the support, buy the retail product. Otherwise, don't charge for it or no one will write for it!

Nothing good from it ...

I.M. Anonymous @ 7/19/2001 6:42:55 AM #
I suppose nothing good will ever come from this.
This guys have no clue as to what is Linux, the GPL or who are the linux users.
They seem like a bunch of freeloaders with no real product to me.


I.M. Anonymous @ 7/19/2001 9:57:03 AM #
I use Linux for it's pure speed, modularity, and CONNECTIVITY. What good is Linux on a very limited solo device?


I.M. Anonymous @ 7/19/2001 9:58:58 AM #
Just had another thought. LinuxDA... DA... is that all it is?!? Nothing more than a new 'desk accessory'?

So tempting but ...

SK @ 7/19/2001 9:29:03 PM #
How can I dump my $125 investment by purchasing some
registered softwares for $60 Linux systems that should be free? Backwards compatibility w/
typical PalmOS is a MUST! or make it FREE

Paying $60 for Linux

EsKa @ 7/19/2001 9:29:03 PM #
NO WAY! Make it free and open sources . People should not pay for distribution but Empower can charge for support both end users and developers ...if the price drop for $10-$15 I'll buy it ...

You can't win :-)

Atul Chitnis @ 7/20/2001 2:23:45 AM #
Most of the time, I see people cribbing about Linux being a "command line" OS (which is a lot bull merde - the GUIs for Linux make legacy OSs look neandertal), but this is a switch - people complaining about no CLI or shell!

you just can't win! :-)

why pay for free linux?

I.M. Anonymous @ 7/20/2001 6:08:23 AM #
If this was an amateur project "wouldn't it be cool to port linux to Palm?" then I could understand. But these guys are actually trying to make money from this? I guess they figure Palm marketshare is so large that there must be a few diehard linux users who would love to switch. has posted screenshots of LinuxDA

I.M. Anonymous @ 7/20/2001 11:46:25 AM #

What a Joke!

I.M. Anonymous @ 7/21/2001 6:50:24 PM #
This Linux for Palm thing will never catch on. Linux should remain where it belongs - on desktop computers, where you have speed and connectivity.

This has to be a joke

I.M. Anonymous @ 7/22/2001 2:31:39 AM #
I just submitted a garbled order form... no SSL encryption anywhere. At least they could have set that up to somewhat convice me, but even cheap little websites have SSL for order forms.


buddy @ 7/22/2001 1:31:26 PM #
will this get rid of the palm OS software on your handheld?

web site

RE: replacement?
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/29/2001 1:30:27 AM #
I think it would......but i could be wrong.

Open Source?

I.M. Anonymous @ 7/23/2001 5:43:51 PM #
If it's open source, where can I get the source? I figure that even someone with a loose handle on C++ should be able to modify it to their liking and compile it, thereby making it MY Linux OS.

Whats $40?

rob_proc @ 12/3/2003 1:52:35 AM #
I know that the beauty of open source is that its free, and the software is free an its all good cos everything ever connected to it is free...but for an Os what is $40? i mean really? its not even a night out on the tiles! you could get drunk for that...but not into many i dont really see the problem, jus stay in for one night an you got yourself a new OS that can potentially rival Palm.

Obviously there is work that is required, but it aint like it will stop here, updates etc will improve and as more people take it on developers will start to churn out the apps (especially if China is cracked!). This does mean that Empower is makin a nice buck or two...getting a free kernal an tweakin it to fit a Palm, but hey thats capitalism for ya :oD

i say bite the bullet, get the OS for the hell of it, then sit tight...the wheels are rolling and the apps WILL arrive.



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