Comments on: Linux OS for Palm Hardware Available

Empower Technologies announced today at the LinuxWorld Expo that it has released the full version of the Linux DA operating system for the Palm IIIx, IIIxe, and Vx. They also announced licencing deals with two Taiwanese companies to ship handhelds with their OS preinstalled.

Linux DA O/S v1.0 DBE replaces the Palm OS within the handheld but still remains fully compatible with the hardware. Using the open source Linux kernel, they created the first Linux compatible OS scaled down for Palm platform. Linux DA can back up to a desktop PC and is able to utilize handwriting recognition for data input.

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I.M. Anonymous @ 8/27/2001 5:43:55 PM #
Another one for the penguin!

RE: Awesome!
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/27/2001 5:51:39 PM #
Is the kernel GPL'd or LGPL'd, are they really following the licencing? Hard to imagine this gone be any success if you have to pay 40$ for it.

Wow! 15 apps!

palmcoder @ 8/27/2001 5:58:47 PM #
They've already surpassed the number of PocketPC apps!

Kidding aside, can someone explain why I would want to flash this linux OS over the preinstalled palm OS? I fail to see the value...


RE: Wow! 15 apps!
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/27/2001 6:07:34 PM #
lol. Having just purchased a PPC, I hear that!

Seriously, given the simplicity of Palm OS, and the number of apps for it, I have to wonder the same thing - why get linux? I guess there's a large and active developer community for it, but I have to wonder if the OS is really the best thing for handhelds, and whether it's something the average consumer will want to bother with. Actually, I don't wonder at all about the last bit. If you're going to go linux, I'd say you're better off doing it on PPC hardware.

Also, I'd have to take issue with the statement that "...the PC market shifted radically when the operating system was unbundled from the hardware," It doesn't seem that is true, at least on a consumer level. Very few consumers run linux, and 99.99 percent of all consumer PCs come with Windows...

RE: Wow! 15 apps!
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/27/2001 6:14:01 PM #
People would want this so their friends can go "woooo" when they see what you've done with your palm. But I get enough "woooo"s from Silver Screen already.

RE: Wow! 15 apps!
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/27/2001 8:58:02 PM #
Agreed! Silver paired with a color Palm is 2 di fo'....

RE: Wow! 15 apps!
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/28/2001 2:34:01 AM #
There are several reasons why Linux is very suitable for handheld computing, including Palms.

Quality is not an issue here. The Palm OS is a solid one and there are many good apps for it. But Linux has more.

A Palm computer running Linux is a potentially awesome network client. Linux is a mature network OS whereas Palm is still developing that. Employing such a device in an enterprise network environment would be easy. Internet? Peanuts.

There are a lot of apps around for the Palm OS. But imagine the possibilities of having all those Linux apps available. Many of which should require little or no porting at all since they were designed to run efficiently on modest hardware anyway. The next generation of handhelds will be more powerful than an old 386. All that is required to run Linux.

And I don't think it's wrong for Palm to have some competition and for the buying public to be able to choose whatever fits their needs.

Mind you, if these guys manage to build up a developer community around this, things could go very quickly from here. Having the full power of the open source movement working for you means you can get great things at an incredible speed.
Ask Linus. Ask Bill, too.

RE: Wow! 15 apps!
tipds @ 8/28/2001 9:56:20 AM #
I disagree about the power of Linux DA. It is very difficult to tell the difference between it and the Palm OS. There is no command line, no multi tasking, etc. It has lost everything that makes Linux desirable. On top of that, Empower is unresponsive to tech. support questions. The only Linux inherited quality of Linux DA is it's lack of "across-the-board" support. I will be suprised if it goes anywhere, withouth MAJOR change.

Linux for Palm is a solution without a problem.This is dumb.

I.M. Anonymous @ 8/27/2001 6:25:38 PM #

RE: Linux for Palm is a solution without a problem.This is dumb.
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/27/2001 6:59:58 PM #
I agree!

RE: Linux for Palm is a solution without a problem.This is dumb.
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/27/2001 10:33:48 PM #
What? You mean you don't want to pay $40 so that you can do less with your Palm-powered handheld than you can right now? Where is that open source spirit? :)

RE: Linux for Palm is a solution without a problem.This is dumb.
sub_tex @ 8/28/2001 8:53:57 AM #
I agree that $40 for it is nuts, but you people are forgetting that if you were a linux developer and you had the chance to write your apps for your palm, you'd jump on that in a second.

Just because YOU personally don't dig it, it doesn't negate the opportunity it allows linux enthusiasts.

I know even if I was a hobbyist Linux dev, i'd install it on my old palm.

But then again, they want you paying dough for this thing........why would i pay for linux again?

RE: Linux for Palm is a solution without a problem.This is d
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/28/2001 9:26:44 AM #
"I agree that $40 for it is nuts, but you people are forgetting that if you were a linux developer and you had the chance to write your apps for your palm, you'd jump on that in a second."

First, most Linux enthusiasts expect everything to be free, not $40-$60. It's $60 with the SDK! Second, it's already easy for people using Linux to develop apps for the Palm OS. All the tools including emulator are available under Linux, easily downloadable, and for free.

RE: Linux for Palm is a solution without a problem.This is dumb.
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/28/2001 1:54:32 PM #
I am a Linux diveloper and agree too. Linux for pal is ridiculous. The only thing beautiful about Linux for the PC is that it is powerful. The palm itself does not have the hardware power needed like for example to be used as a network server.

any way, altough i write linux software I still use Windows me because of its ease of use and software (who can live without office, Encarta and all the games ;)
I won't be paying 40 bucks to make my palm less capable and more complex to use.

RE: Linux for Palm is a solution without a problem.This is dumb.
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/28/2001 2:15:08 PM #
Although LinuxOS on Palm hardware sound ridiculous, LinuxOS as PDA OS alternative sound reasonable.

If we talk in individual consumer side, consumer may satified with what PalmOS can do. But how about corporate side??? PalmOS is far behide PPC OS (such as radio streaming, network, media capability)

while PalmOS can't do something that PPC OS can do, I'm sure that Linux PDA OS has capability to do anything that PPC OS can do. so power users have more choice.


I.M. Anonymous @ 8/27/2001 8:18:10 PM #
I can't WAIT to run Apache on my Vx!! This is the greatest idea ever! Where can I invest in this company? They should also get into the online grocery business!!

RE: Cool!
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/27/2001 9:26:57 PM #

dude, you don't need *nix for that!

you can already run an HTTP server on a palm device with a Minstrel modem.

believe it or not, but this actually works! It creates a website where you can access records held in the datebook, address book, etc.

RE: Cool!
Hed @ 8/27/2001 9:28:58 PM #
I'm planing on running my company's MySQL database on mine.

RE: Cool!
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/28/2001 2:02:36 PM #
Not so cool.

You wont be able to run apache. Standard Linux apps don't run on the palm. Apps for the palm OS version of linux have to be specially written for the palm. Trust me i already tried porting some programs I developed myself in linux and it is a pain. This Linux for palm is totally different from the regular PC linux.

RE: Cool!
Hed @ 8/28/2001 6:47:42 PM #
Yeah, and we weren't being sarcastic either.

Hint: That was sarcasm.

Who are the idiots paying these guys' bills?

I.M. Anonymous @ 8/27/2001 9:06:01 PM #
"Just as the PC market shifted radically when the operating system was unbundled from the hardware, we believe that the Palm-compatible market is going to explode with the release of our embedded Linux DA O/S,"

Hmmm ... except the hardware you're developing for is about to become obsolete.

RE: Who are the idiots paying these guys' bills?
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/27/2001 9:51:15 PM #
Tell that to Palm Inc.

RE: Who are the idiots paying these guys' bills?
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/28/2001 8:25:16 AM #
Huh? First off, this thing is going to be dog slow. Secondly, it's hardly free, so it's a sure flop with the community it's best targeted at.

Linux on Palm

I.M. Anonymous @ 8/27/2001 10:30:35 PM #
The idea of Linux running on Palms is intriguing. With the possible exception of very specialized uses, there is little motive to move to Linux. Think of all of the applications which won't run any longer. But the port raises two very interesting questions:

1. With a virtual PalmOs environment running under Linux, might this mean that we could run multiple applications concurrently? Now THAT would be incredible. Since I started using my Minstrel I am faced with having to wait until my mail is sent and received, or my AvantGo is synched before I can look up a phone number. The point is that being able to run a couple of applications in the background while I run another application in the foreground is tantalizing.

2. How about upgrading the PalmOs operating system to allow for switching between multiple concurrently-running tasks? If Linux inspires Palm to do this, that would be a great service to the Palm community.

RE: Linux on Palm
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/28/2001 3:14:35 AM #
Consider it done.
Palm bought Be...

When's the IPO?

I.M. Anonymous @ 8/27/2001 11:15:11 PM #
...and no shell tool? What's the point if you can't talk to the kernel?!

This company also had another press release stating that they were porting OpenGL over to Palm hardware, but it will only support the Palm III and M100.

RE: When's the IPO?
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/28/2001 4:09:53 PM #
I would presume that it might be possible to get busybox to help with shell tools. If the open source part of their
release is better then uClinux, that group may just start building on that.

I don't see how they can do M100 given that it doesn't flash.

What a combo!

I.M. Anonymous @ 8/27/2001 11:30:08 PM #
Imagine - the raw power of a Motorola Dragonball CPU and a high resolution 160x160 screen combined with the intuitive and user friendly Linux operating system. Where do I sign up?

Brad Benson

RE: What a combo!
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/28/2001 7:00:00 PM #
Don't forget the vast 8MB of storage.

I think

I.M. Anonymous @ 8/28/2001 12:35:06 AM #
I think this has little to offer for folks that are already using Palm PDAs - except for some hard-core linux geeks that want Linux everywhere.

The folks that will really be interested in this are PDA manufacturers that don't want a closed-source, licensed OS, or who need something that Palm can't provide.

I can't think of a specific example, but that doesn't mean there isn't someone out there for whom this is the perfect answer.

What confuses me is the high price. $40? Sheesh! I'll grab µLinux and do it myself...

RE: I think
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/28/2001 3:47:00 PM #

I am still struggling with uClinux since I have linux 2.4 kernel, the old kernel standard with uClinux does not compile. Also, I don't know of GUI with uClinux. The site is not well maintained. The mailing lists and combination of other sites have to be used to find out how to do 2.4 kernel and I'm still not sure.

I have tried Linux DA demo and it does have a GUI and sample apps. The problem is they will have propietary GUI which may mean porting problems. I may be possible to come up with FLTK lib based on their gui and port Agenda apps, but it's just a theory. Since palm VIIx is so cheap (I paid more for my IIIxe last year) I installed Linux DA and will live without the wireless capabilities.

The biggest problem with Linux DA is that the way they are releasing it it has no community now, and I don't know what they mean by licensing an allegedy open source OS unless it's like Cygwin.

RE: I think
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/30/2002 10:55:40 PM #
I tried on VIIx (eventhough it says it's not supposed to work on it).
It looked OK, until I tried to sync it on windows. The tech support
said that it's not supposed to work with VIIx. If you know a way
to get it to work, let me know

Clever Empower

I.M. Anonymous @ 8/28/2001 1:13:03 AM #
While you fools are debating the usability of Linux on a Palm handheld, Empower is laughing all the way to the bank by selling thousands of licenses to the many hardware OEMs in Taiwan, Hong Kong and China whom Palm has high-handedly spurned.

Within twelve months expect to see first Asia Pacific and then later the world flooded with cheap sub $100 handhelds which will effectively pull the rug under such low end Palm models like the m100 etc.

This will force Asian Palm licensees like Sony, Acer and Samsung to concentrate on the mid to high end of the market and effectively clobber Palm.

As I look at it, if Palm don't wake up the idea soon, they'll go the way of the Apple II.

RE: Clever Empower
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/28/2001 6:19:17 AM #
There is a bright thought. LOL Like your "vision"...idiot.

RE: Clever Empower
ganoe @ 8/28/2001 8:28:32 AM #
"While you fools are debating the usability of Linux on a Palm handheld, Empower is laughing all the way to the bank by selling thousands of licenses to the many hardware OEMs in Taiwan, Hong Kong and China whom Palm has high-handedly spurned."

At $40 a pop they're not. I seriously doubt they can do any better, most likely worse, than Palm's licensing fees. Plus they're going to have a hard time getting anyone to develop apps for it at that price.

RE: Clever Empower
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/28/2001 9:16:23 AM #
we know that palm is charging something like $9-$10 per seat for the OS to OEMs, so how is a $40 a pop Linux OS going to undercut palm? the hardware is the same so those costs don't change.

RE: Clever Empower
Ed @ 8/28/2001 9:38:31 AM #
I'm sure Empower is charging their licensees much less than they charge their regular customers.

I agree with the original "Clever Empower" comment; these companies plan to hit the Chinese market with low-cost handhelds. They probably plan to under-cut Palm's prices by not doing much advertising, customer support or R&D, allowing them to sell the handhelds at just above cost and still make a profit.

I'm not saying this is a guaranteed success. I don't know enough about the Chinese market to make that judgement, but it at least seems to have a decent chance. I've read reports that handheld use is taking off in China while Palm has mostly ignored the whole country.

News Editor

RE: Clever Empower
Lucky @ 8/28/2001 11:18:46 AM #
What I don't understand is how they expect to SELL Linux when it's GPL. Isn't that illegal?

RE: Clever Empower
ganoe @ 8/28/2001 11:29:45 AM #
Just speculating from the download area of their website, it looks like they're going to release the source for their Linux kernel, which is probably enough to cover them under GPL. Their PDA desktop and apps probably won't be free then, which I'm sue most will frown on. What's really bad is $60 for the SDK. That'll kill any chance of most serious Linux people developing apps for it.

RE: Clever Empower
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/28/2001 2:10:31 PM #
I china no one uses Linux.

Trust me we Chinese people want simplycity and standrad abaliability of programs. The linux user base for Pc in here is about nonexistent while Windows has almost 100% of the market. I think Pocket PC and palm OS has much more chance for these people using Windows.

Linen Wong

RE: Clever Empower
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/28/2001 3:59:08 PM #

The Chinese gov wants to go in Linux direction because of security issues with having another company control your OS.
While the gov has considerable weight, this is not getting into the commercial area very well. Some think that the renewed
efforts on enforcement of software piracy will force Third World countries to use more Linux. If the courts were to
break up MS and force it to make Linux version of MS Office, that would do it. Then, Linux on more desktops would
help make case for Linux on handhelds.

I seem to remember paying around $200 for Palm version of Code Warrior, so I don't think that $60 will deter developers.
If it catches on, a GCC type of env may be developed. (So, I confess, I'm a propeller head).

RE: Clever Empower
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/28/2001 4:41:56 PM #
Considering that a gcc-based environment already exists for Palm OS (and is freely available), I think the $60 price tag for the development kit is silly.

The bottom line is that I want to write an app for this thing, it's going to cost me $100 more than if I were to do so on Palm OS. That's $100 to write apps for a market that doesn't exist.

RE: Clever Empower
Hed @ 8/28/2001 6:52:03 PM #
Acutally wouldn't China like the idea of having Linux? I think that the open-source thing goes well with the communist/socialist mantra of the people owning everything.

RE: Clever Empower
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/29/2001 3:50:55 AM #
GPL doesn't mean you can't sell your work and make a profit. You can.

GPL means freedom for the user to use the product any way they see fit. And you're allowed to rewrite/adjust it to your needs. GPL encourages you to publish your work. Clearly a scientific background and it makes sense to me.
Free as in free speech, not free beer. Remember?

Looks like Empower is trying to become the Red Hat of the handheld computers by pretending to sell a Linux distro for handheld computers. But that is exactly what it should be then, a distro precompiled for popular handhelds with the choice of thousands of Linux apps that will run either straight from the desktop version or with minimal porting effort. I don't see that happening here.

The real danger for Palm comes from the possibility of a tidal wave of cheapo asian handhelds that will take over the lower end of the market, forcing Palm into a fight with high-end competitors like Sony and with the ppc platform. That is the current weak spot.

Where's the vision people?

jayhawk88 @ 8/28/2001 10:10:44 AM #
I can imagine similar "What's the point of this?" comments flying around Usenet 10 years ago when Linus first sent out word of his own personal kernel. Unix at that time had 15 years of history, and was well accepted as a major server OS of the day. What would be the point of this off-shoot Linux, right?

Many good things in the computer world start off like this: small, inefficient, and perhaps even slightly impracticle. The point, however, is what might this OS become. Just because you may not have a use for it now doesn't mean that won't be the case down the road.

RE: Where's the vision people?
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/28/2001 11:39:29 AM #
But it should offer some kind of compelling reason to use it. That reason doesn't exist :

Apps? Nope, none to speak of.
Cost? Nope, not at forty bucks.
Ease of Use? Nope, doesn't appear to be.
Speed? No reports of this yet, but based on other implementations (Yopy, etc.) I'd have to guess it would be slower.

So what's the reason for going with this, other than to hop on the Linux bandwagon? Linux is great for some applications (and I have two linux boxen working away right now), but it's the last thing I want on my PDA.

RE: Where's the vision people?
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/28/2001 8:57:25 PM #
Have you actually tried the LinuxDA demo? It looks basically like the Palm. The standard apps are similar as well except
that the demo doesn't have everything. The speed is
good as well. Of course going from demo to production can be the rub. Agenda has been trying to go to production having
far more than Linux DA has for apps and is still trying. There are other things that are small that run linux (Tivoli and
Playstation 2). The Agenda apps may be able to be ported to LinuxDA. Of course, Sharpe has a better idea of allowing
its Linux PDA to run Palm apps (alas this is not released either). The next step for LinuxDA would be to allow it on
say TRGpro which can have more memory or on other such devices.

RE: Where's the vision people?
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/29/2001 12:39:13 PM #
No, I haven't tried LinuxDA - not at forty bucks. But again I ask, why should I?

Apps? None to speak of. PalmGear lists 11,000+ apps for PalmOS, and I have a number of apps I use every day on my IIIc that aren't the standard phone list/calander/memo pad/etc. Where can I get a flight planning tool for LinuxDA? A database app? Answer: not available.

Cost? Again it's forty bucks on top of what I already paid for my Palm.

Ease of use? If it's not better, there is no point in switching. The mere fact that it has to be installed means I have to do more to use it than PalmOS - so it loses here as well.

Speed? You say speed is 'good'. What does that mean? That it is usable? The Agenda is horribly slow, and it's got a faster chip. I will have to see LinuxDA be faster before I believe it - there's just a lot of overhead there that is not in PalmOS.

Also, FWIW - both Tivoli and PS2 boxes have a little more horsepower than a 16, 20, or 33MHz 68000-class chip.

Brad Benson

Market=Linux Geeks. Period.

I.M. Anonymous @ 8/28/2001 11:56:11 AM #
This isn't going much of anywhere.

RE: Market=Linux Geeks. Period.
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/28/2001 2:14:27 PM #
Market != Linux Geeks;

I am (technically) a Linux Geek, and would never eve install Linux on my palm. The main reason I use Linux on my pc are: free OS, free software. Linux for palm does not have any software letalone free. My palm already comes with its own OS, why spend $40 on a less capable version of linux? Also There are thousand of applications for the palm OS, may of which are free.

Linux Geek against Linux for Palm.

Empower was not the first to make a Linux based OS for Palm!

I.M. Anonymous @ 10/17/2001 3:58:11 AM #
Check it out:
I found it while looking for other *ix ports for the palm.
This one actually does multi-tasking!
It runs linux apps and it runs PalmOS apps!
That is truely an accomplishment!
THey only show it running on an Xemulator, but I think I might give this a whirl tomorrow on my Palm Professional that has been continually upgraded over the years.



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