Comments on: Palm OS 6 Cobalt Overview: The Palm OS Future

PalmSource took the wraps off Palm OS 6 last week during the PalmSource Developer conference. In this piece we take a closer, in-depth look at the next generation Palm OS operating system. Cobalt is a new enhanced version of the Palm operating system that is designed to enable the creation of new categories of smart handheld devices.
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Application compatibility Application compatibility

hotpaw4 @ 2/18/2004 8:37:24 PM #
For an example of the compatibility with well-behaved PalmOS applications: a few developers managed to successfully run some apps which were written for PalmPilots way back in 1997 on actual hardware (test boards) running Cobalt.
RE: Application compatibilityApplication compatibility
helf @ 2/18/2004 9:22:04 PM #
yeah, one of the best behaved '3d' programs is duum, it was never finished and it more opf a tech demo of a 3d walk around type game.. but it runs on anything, from my palm pro all the way to my zodiac.

RE: Application compatibility
PAK5695 @ 4/22/2008 4:44:55 PM #
You'r one to say, you can't even spell dumb

RE: Application compatibility Application compatibility
SeldomVisitor @ 4/22/2008 6:03:04 PM #
Retro - is that it?

Multi Threading

Doo @ 2/18/2004 9:21:45 PM #
This makes me nervous. If the don't do it write it will suffer the same woes of PPC. If it shuts down the programs right it will rock.

RE: Multi Threading
LiveFaith @ 2/18/2004 9:52:23 PM #
PSRC has no choice. Multithreading is demanded by the marketplace for powerful mobile devices. They sure have taken a long time, brought the BeOSers, and done it from the ground up, so let's see what happens. I say their innocent until proven guilty. I would love to see my TT3 with this on it!

Pat Horne;
RE: Multi Threading
RhinoSteve @ 2/18/2004 10:20:52 PM #
They have done it right. Trust me. These guys are good. How good? They are able to tell Microsoft to shove off and still make a very good living. Yes, they are THAT good!

RE: Multi Threading
hotpaw4 @ 2/18/2004 10:21:46 PM #
someone wrote:
> If it shuts down the programs right it will rock.

You're in luck. Cobalt current shuts down generic applications as soon as you launch another generic app, so they won't take up any program memory when not running.

Only lighter weight background threads will be left running, and only for new Cobalt apps which specifically request this feature (to download chat, email or web pages in the background, for instance). The user will get many of the benefits of multitasking on a small display device, with few of the costs.

RE: Multi Threading
acaltabiano @ 2/19/2004 12:32:58 AM #
What do you mean they told MS to shove it? they are catering to them! Dropping Mac support (yeah, I know, missing sync, etc. But, THEY dropped mac support), and have made all of their stuff to fall in line with the MS model. I don't think that is telling them to shove it. It is more like getting on their knees and telling them they love them, complete with teabag.

RE: Multi Threading
jasonandmaria @ 2/19/2004 7:47:46 AM #
Palm obviosly is learning from Miscrosoft's mistakes. I'm glad that the changes are largely under the hood. It's hard to beat the usability and efficiency of the no nonsense Palm UI. I think Cobalt will probably feel like the POS4 to POS5 upgrade, basically the same but better/faster/more complete.

RE: Multi Threading
helf @ 2/19/2004 10:27:34 AM #
actually, os5 is faster on the slower arm units. A dev friend of mine that was at palmsource said that os6 was sloow on a 100mhz arm demo board but screamed on a 400mhz board. So i'm sure all unit that run it will be 200mhz or faster.. :)

RE: Multi Threading
rsc1000 @ 2/19/2004 1:29:27 PM #
The MS approach with Pocket PC multi-tasking is identical to multi-tasking on the desktop - except is harder to shut down an app. you've got to do the '6-taps though the settings' to shut down apps (though apps can override smart-minimize and actually shut down when the user taps the 'x' - but this further confuses things because users don't know when an app has done this). This is exactly the wrong way to do multi-tasking on a PDA because only certain types of things should ever be running in the background. On the desktop where you have the screen real-estate, it makes sense to allow lots of apps to be open. On PDAs - where an app with a gui takes up the full screen (typically) - this doesnt makes sense. Its better to close full-screen apps when you launch another. Apps that need to run in the background (apps with no gui or apps designed to 'pop-up' the interface over part of the existing app temporarily) should be able to do this when specifically requesting multi-tasking from the OS. Thats the way PalmSource has done it - and thats the way a handheld device SHOULD do it. Its a very clean model that both eliminates the MS multi-tasking problems AND provides clean backward compatibility. They did it right.

RE: Multi Threading
RAMd®d @ 2/20/2004 10:29:46 AM #
I have a T3 and an older iPAQ.

There are times when I don't charge the iPAQ over the weekend and get a Low Battery alert on Monday or Tuesday. When I do the 6-Tap Dance, I see that I have several apps running that didn't shut down when I closed them (unlike the desktop/laptop version of Windows).

So I have to make sure I actually shut the apps down for the weekend.. I don't understand the philosophy behind that. The battery is already challenged as it is.

On the days that I don't use my T3, there is almost no battery drain to speak of. And it's much tougher on the battery, so I appreciate the low drain when I'm not using it.

An armed society is a polite society.

RE: Multi Threading
Powieee @ 7/22/2005 10:51:05 PM #
What's this Plam OS's Threading Model ? User, kernel or hybrid?

RE: Multi Threading
PAK5695 @ 4/22/2008 4:48:13 PM #
OMG You can't spell too and you call us geeks

RE: Multi Threading
SeldomVisitor @ 4/22/2008 6:03:54 PM #
Not interested in commas, huh?


Impartial @ 2/18/2004 9:55:58 PM #
Maybe PIC should stop saying that the Eclipse-based tools are available to developers? They really aren't. A few copies were given out at the developer conference, but no versions (prerelease or otherwise) are publicly available.
hotpaw4 @ 2/18/2004 10:04:02 PM #
Not a few. Several hundreds of copies of CD with the tools were handed out to any developer in attendance who wanted one, no NDA required. The Cobalt tools installer is over 250 MB, so they might be having a bit of a problem figuring out how to keep their web server from getting slashdotted to death.
RE: Inaccuracy
RhinoSteve @ 2/18/2004 10:22:38 PM #
Better, some developer may have alread TARed the CD to a website and put the release in gray zone legal. And no, I don't have any idea of a URL that has that posted.
RE: Inaccuracy
Admin @ 2/18/2004 11:10:52 PM #
For the record I say in the article a "technical preview" is now available to developers, not the tools.

Can any developers comment on when they are due?


Tools availability
bcombee @ 2/19/2004 12:10:35 AM #
According to posts on the tools-forum mailing list, the holdup is PalmSource figuring out how to host 250MB downloads for the developer community; its a technical issue they're working on. It looks like the 0.1.1 release of the tools will be the first ones available online.

Ben Combee, CodeWarrior for Palm OS technical lead
Programming help at
RE: Inaccuracy
stickboy @ 2/19/2004 2:02:28 AM #
Using BitTorrent to distribute the developer tools probably would be a good ideas, especially since most developers should be fairly technically-savvy.

RE: Inaccuracy
McMagnus @ 2/19/2004 12:41:38 PM #
I was just about to suggest that as well. It's the perfect tool for the task, and a good opportunity to demonstrate perfectly legal uses of P2P networks.

To prohibit spoofing, PalmSource could post a small tool on their site to verify the authenticity of the package once it's downloaded.

RE: Inaccuracy
bcombee @ 2/19/2004 3:41:52 PM #
The BitTorrent idea also came up on the tools-forum mailing list. They are investigating using it, but only it is provides sufficient download tracking abilities (they want to know how popular the tool suite is!)

Ben Combee, CodeWarrior for Palm OS technical lead
Programming help at
Is Metroworks out of the picture now?
ConfusedVorlon @ 2/19/2004 7:44:03 PM #

Does this mean that Metroworks is out of the picture as a palm IDE?

Will you bow out or try to compete with the free offering?

RE: Inaccuracy
bcombee @ 2/19/2004 11:53:03 PM #
I can't comment on any future plans for Metrowerks at this time. We are in a legally-mandated quiet period where we cannot make any public statements about future plans, due to the separation of Motorola's semiconductor group (Metrowerks's parent company) into a separate company.

Ben Combee, CodeWarrior for Palm OS technical lead
Programming help at
RE: Inaccuracy
twalk @ 2/20/2004 4:56:41 PM #
Hey Ben,

I'm a current CW customer, but I'm not planning on upgrading. Part because CW9 does good enough, part because of PalmSource getting into the act.

However if you could make CW easily target Palm + PPC + Symbian and hide many of the differences, then I'd pay $200 over the current upgrade rate for the next version.

moot subject

markrp @ 2/18/2004 9:59:08 PM #
This new info. may be a moot subject, since you can't keep a Palm charged long enough to play games or anything else for any length of time.

I wish they would concentrate on a batter that lasted as long as a Gameboy SP.

Most gaming programs are limited now due to the short time between recharging a Palm.

Palm battery life is not sufficient.


RE: moot subject
hotpaw4 @ 2/18/2004 10:11:12 PM #
It's up to each licensee to decide how big a battery to include in each device, not PalmSource. That said, OS 6, by allowing completely ARM native apps, should allow devices to be designed which use less power than OS 5 devices running similar applications.

In any case, a big bright LCD display will always cost dearly in terms of battery life. Fortunately, you can still buy PalmOS devices with small dim monochrome displays for the better battery life.

RE: moot subject
kevdo @ 2/19/2004 12:06:24 AM #
>you can't keep a Palm charged long enough to play games
>or anything else for any length of time

What are you talking about? I use my Zodiac for hours at a time and it certainly is well charged throughout the day. Comments like this don;t serve any useful purpose.

-Kevin Crossman, Palm Powered Software Champion

RE: moot subject
Admin @ 2/19/2004 12:14:24 AM #
its kinda like asking Jeff Hawkins about why you're backup card doesn't work!
RE: moot subject
just_little_me @ 2/19/2004 12:40:06 AM #
:-) That was a funny moment for sure... and by "funny" I mean very very strange...!!


RE: moot subject
craigf @ 2/19/2004 12:58:02 AM #
I felt like slappin' the guy. He gets his one chance to ask the Jeff Hawkins a question in front of everyone and THAT'S what he asks? How lame.
RE: moot subject
BUDD @ 2/19/2004 10:10:49 AM #
There are also LARGE,CLEAR monochrome units like the Dana with 20 hours of battery life if that's an issue for ya (it is for me). I agree with the guy--and give in to the idea of a user replaceable battery (2-year LithIons = disposable device = toy).

RE: moot subject
Altema @ 2/19/2004 10:11:39 AM #
"Most gaming programs are limited now due to the short time between recharging a Palm."

4 hours not enough? 15 hours with the expansion battery leave you hanging? You obviously have no time for work and don't need anything more than a gameboy!

RE: moot subject
helf @ 2/19/2004 10:29:39 AM #
wha? I played stunt car extreme on my zodiac 1 for over and hour and the battery showed 99% charge. ALL my old palms got days or weeks of battery life even with heavy use. Some of the os5 palms are the only ones with short battery life really.. tungsten t3 is one..

RE: moot subject
jjsoh @ 2/19/2004 12:50:42 PM #
Hahaha... Altema has it right, as far as I'm concerned. I would think most people use PDAs primarily to organize their life, with gaming as an added 'luxury'.

Going even further off-topic, I think BUDD has a point about user-replaceable batteries. I like the idea of it being held in place with a screwed-on cover (i.e. GBA SP) so that after a long period of time, you don't have to purchase a new PDA because the battery can't hold a decent charge any longer.

However, not in the way that Sony has implemented it in the NZ Series. I think that's a terrible workaround for the fact that those CLIEs drain batteries way too fast. Who wants to carry an extra battery with them all the time? I still would like my PDA to last a week or more even after intermittent daily usage.

I would love to just slip in a new battery without (a) having to waste time and extra money sending my PDA out to a company which can do it for you or (b) doing it yourself by ordering an internal replacement battery where you have to open up the PDA yourself and hope you don't break something along the way.

After daily use of my Tungsten|T since its launch back in Nov. '02, I can definitely feel the battery's charge getting weaker as the weeks pass on by. It would be nice if the battery can be easily replaced, because I'm not ready to buy a new PDA right now... especially since OS6 is right around the corner.


RE: moot subject
Altema @ 2/19/2004 12:57:26 PM #
"tungsten t3 is one.."

That's the one I gave times for, the point being that you can get some serious playtime on virtually any Palm OS device. I just completed 3 hours and 56 minutes of work on my T3 and the battery is at 64%. Plenty left for Flames, Space Combat, Cubis, and RifleSlugs-W!

Palm = Games+Work
GB = Games+0

RE: moot subject
rsc1000 @ 2/19/2004 1:46:02 PM #
The immediate salvation for battery life appears to be coming in the form of smarter systems that scale back clock speed (Sonys 'handheld engine' is a great example - though there are a few kinks to work out) and with new OLED displays. We've heard of coming new battery technology (PIC has covered some of this), but the big gains we will see in the near future are related to these (scaling cpu and oled) solutions for reducing power consumption. I don't want the new th55 from sony (those buttons send me into a rage just thing about them) - but its a great proof of copcept for reducing battery drain. pretty incredible numbers Sony has managed there in terms of hours of use.

RE: moot subject
neuttron @ 2/19/2004 5:52:03 PM #
my t3 hangs just fine a daywork, reading native files and jpegs.
You have to "pay" for landscape and processor, but I think is kinda cheap.

RE: moot subject
rcartwright @ 2/22/2004 10:45:17 PM #
BUDD, I agree that the Dana battery life is a horse. I also like the fact that you CAN replace the battery in a Dana. All that said, the wireless version of the Dana does not last very long when you are using WIFI. I bring this up to make the point is that we ask our handhelds to do more. That takes power and the sad fact is that battery technology is pretty mature. Palm OS products have to cram the battery wherever in order to keep the size small. I do not see how they could easily make it a consumer friendly replacement

Life is a great adventure or nothing.

A few questions...

gfunkmagic @ 2/18/2004 10:49:18 PM #
1) The article mentions that Cobalt will support screen sizes up to 32,000 by 32,000 pixels. But other sites have stated that there is still no builtin support for VGA? So which is it? Does Cobal support VGA screens or not?

2) In addition to all the media types mentioned supported in Cobalt, what about WMA file types? Were the M$ licensing costs too prohibitive to do this?

3) What is the list of current devices with 16 MB of Rom that are capable of an upgrade?

I support


RE: A few questions...
hotpaw4 @ 2/19/2004 12:30:59 AM #
The Cobalt simulator includes support for 480x640 and even higher display resolutions.

Of course, whether or not any licensee chooses to design hardware for these resolutions is a separate matter.

RE: A few questions...
mikecane @ 2/19/2004 2:29:51 AM #
No landscape API.

Way to NOT go.

RE: A few questions...
hotpaw4 @ 2/19/2004 2:47:16 AM #
Where did you get that idea? The Cobalt documentation includes an API for screen orientation. Of course, whether or not any licensee hardware will support changing orientations seems to be a separate matter.

RE: A few questions...
robrecht @ 2/19/2004 4:53:09 AM #
Aren't people saying that screen rotation may not be functional until 6.01 or something like that?

Thanks, robrecht
RE: A few questions...
Altema @ 2/19/2004 10:14:59 AM #
Screen rotation is not in OS5 either, but that does not stop additional code from doing the same thing. AppSlipRotate is only 11k.

RE: A few questions...
mikecane @ 2/19/2004 10:35:33 AM #
This was brought up in an earlier discussion of Cobalt: no landscape API.

If it can be done, and as a patch, WTF isn't Sony providing it for the TH55 -- and a patch for the UX to give it portrait mode?

RE: A few questions...
amike @ 2/19/2004 11:41:09 AM #
ux50 does not offer a lansdcape mode ! it's a portrait mode but rearranged in landscape ... Sony has just resized the screen to have the look of landscape mode...

If my idea is right then we know why we don't have any landscape mode on TH55....

RE: A few questions...
rsc1000 @ 2/19/2004 1:52:14 PM #
>>If it can be done, and as a patch, WTF isn't Sony providing it for the TH55 -- and a patch for the UX to give it portrait mode?

The TH55 isn't Cobolt - its OS 5. The documentation for Cobolt clearly shows the APIs for landscape (actually called 'Screen Orientation APIs' and allows rotation in all 4 orientations). The thing is that it also states that - currently - the only orientation supported is portrait, even though the API is there to do the rest. So, either this means that rotation will be fully supported in future versions (6.1) or it can be supported now if a device manufacturer want to add it. I guess that it may mean both - some manufacturers will support it now but it will be standard in the next iteration of the OS.

RE: A few questions...
mikecane @ 2/20/2004 1:11:52 AM #
>>>The TH55 isn't Cobolt - its OS 5.

So is the TT3. And *it* can rotate, dammit.

RE: A few questions...
helf @ 2/20/2004 11:56:20 AM #
well the TT3 isn't a sony, is it? :)

Sony has fscked up every pda they have made somehow, I don't know why this comes as a surprise.

When is fall?

SuperBaby @ 2/19/2004 5:32:55 AM #
"My safe estimate would be in the fall of this year, though it is possible something could arrive before late summer timeframe."

What is the period for fall or summer? I stay in a tropical country. Thanks.

Best regards,

RE: When is fall?
skennedy1217 @ 2/19/2004 6:44:32 AM #
Well, if ever there was a time for people on the fence to give PPC a's now. Here are a few reasons: 1) Cobalt devices won't be out until fall, 2) There's likely to be bugs that crop up in the beginning, 3) There's no guarantee that current software will be upgraded (though it sounds like it won't be much of a problem for most developers), 4) there's some nice PPC hardware on (or coming to) the market (features like VGA, dual (and tri-) wireless, SD/CF memory expansion, etc.).

If people want to bash POS for *screwing up OS6,* or *claiming that MS wins,* then they should just go ahead and give the other guy a try. Then when all the kinks are worked out in Cobalt this time next year, they can come back into the fold. At least then they'll be able to give a fair and balanced opinion (unlike some trolls we know).

M100==>M500==>T|T==>T|T2==> ?

RE: When is fall?
EthiopianFlash @ 2/19/2004 8:12:53 AM #
Summer = June, July, August
Fall = September, October, November

Why don't they ever say rainy season or dry season? ;)

With regard to Skennedy, who has that kind of money to throw away? That is what Circuit City and the water cooler are for.

SJ30 > T|T3

RE: When is fall?
Admin @ 2/19/2004 10:17:24 AM #
sorry, forgot about the whole hemispheres thing!

safe est = Sept/Oct/Nov

RE: When is fall?
mikecane @ 2/19/2004 10:37:30 AM #
By September, Sony should have 8 more OS5 CLIEs out! Hah!

RE: When is fall?
skennedy1217 @ 2/19/2004 10:45:24 AM #
EthopianFlash wrote:

"With regard to Skennedy, who has that kind of money to throw away? That is what Circuit City and the water cooler are for."

For me, that's what eBay (and a good paying job) are for. I can sell my T1 and T2 for enough to put a decent downpayment on a new PDA. When the T5 or T6 are released out I'll do it again.

And while I'm on the subject, shame on anyone who abuses extended warranties from places like BestBuy just to "upgrade" to the latest and greatest. You ruin protection programs like that for everyone else. I personally wouldn't pay such high premiums to insure something that I can afford to replace, but come on folks...can't you see it's stealing?

M100==>M500==>T|T==>T|T2==> ?

RE: When is fall?
LiveFaith @ 2/19/2004 1:06:00 PM #
Isn't it sometime around Autumn?

Pat Horne;
RE: When is fall?
JKingGrim @ 2/19/2004 4:35:17 PM #
Who said Cobalt devices wont come until fall? Spring is more like it. For all you know they could arrive this sunday.

RE: When is fall?
mikecane @ 2/20/2004 1:13:54 AM #
>>>Who said Cobalt devices wont come until fall? Spring is more like it. For all you know they could arrive this sunday.

And there are bunny rabbits on Mars too.

RE: When is fall?
richf @ 2/20/2004 7:24:11 AM #
Try the day of the equinox.


More details on the new File system?

DonCarcharo @ 2/19/2004 11:45:28 AM #
Are there any details on the Palm OS finally having a real file system? This was the one area where I always felt that the PPC had an advantage over Palm. I mean I'm no advocate for a full-fledged desktop concept on a handheld, but I'd certainly like to be able to have some control of my files without 3rd party apps. Especially as memory keeps increasing the amount of data we can carry around on our Palms exponentially.

Outside of that, way back when I used to mess around with BeOS I understood that it had quite a robust file system. It might be nice to see if some of that (even just the concept of a database-type FS) made it to the Palm OS.

RE: More details on the new File system?
LiveFaith @ 2/19/2004 1:04:10 PM #
I think not. Althoug hit can sync more file types. From what I remember reading. Others should know for sure.

Pat Horne;
RE: More details on the new File system?
bcombee @ 2/19/2004 3:46:19 PM #
The core "in RAM" databases, external filesystems split hasn't changed in OS 6. There are some differences, however.

In OS 5 and earlier, each database in RAM required a unique database name. In Cobalt, databases are identified by a combination of name and creator code, so clashes between programs won't happen.

Cobalt databases can be the old-style flat DBs, or they can be new schema DBs that act more like SQL tables, with a variable set of columns that can be extended by other applications.

VFS looks the same between the two OSes. There's no standard support for an internal VFS volume, although TapWave showed that it is pretty easy to implement by the licensee.

Finally, there is a new desktop component called HotSync Exchange -- this effectively works like you beamed a file from the desktop to your handheld; the file is copied to the device, than an app that has registered to receive that file type will be activated to put the file in the appropriate place -- internal memory, storage media, or nowhere (if appropriate).

Ben Combee, CodeWarrior for Palm OS technical lead
Programming help at

RE: More details on the new File system?
Edward Green @ 2/20/2004 8:25:24 AM #
So Ben, what happens when Cobalt runs an aplication? Is it still as quick as OS5's Run in Place architecture, or does it have to copy the application to another part of memory to run.

Also does Cbalt still have a main Ram / Heap divide, or is the Heap now dynamic - can it be resized as needed?

Edward Green

RE: More details on the new File system?
bcombee @ 2/20/2004 11:41:12 AM #
Cobalt still uses "run-in-place" for all applications, except those on a VFS volume, which are copied to main memory before running. Native applications are built as ARM shared libraries, and calls to other libraries and the OS are done through an efficient shim layer.

Ben Combee, CodeWarrior for Palm OS technical lead
Programming help at
RE: More details on the new File system?
Edward Green @ 2/20/2004 1:15:23 PM #
Thanks Ben. Not having a 'real' file system is a fair price to maintain a Run in Place architecture. Hats off to PalmSource.

Edward Green
RE: More details on the new File system?
mikecane @ 2/20/2004 1:35:14 PM #
>>>Not having a 'real' file system is a fair price to maintain a Run in Place architecture.

Sez you! And who says there has to be such a choice?

RE: More details on the new File system?
JKingGrim @ 2/20/2004 2:58:41 PM #
Why is run-in-place not possible with a filesystem? I know on FAT, files are sliced up into chuncks so its not possible there, but isn't possible to create a filesystem that can do run-in-place? I've heard BeOS's FS was innovative.

RE: More details on the new File system?
DonCarcharo @ 2/20/2004 7:30:13 PM #
VFS looks the same between the two OSes. There's no standard support for an internal VFS volume, although TapWave showed that it is pretty easy to implement by the licensee.

With moves like this it's pretty clear that PalmSource is pushing a fair share of responsibility (eg. Mac support, VFS, GUI changes) into the hands of vendors, licensees and 3rd parties. Why not spend a little extra time and create a set of standards to eliminate the stratification among your licensees? I mean considering the migration to an (essentially) new OS I really think they missed a great opportunity to set some standards here across the board.

It almost reminds me of the PPC world where every vendor has/had their own launcher. They all run the same basic OS but each vendor's version is just slightly different enough to make you feel vaguely lost. Or the old POS issue of screen size, let each vendor support their own resolution. Sure it creates diversity, but this tiny little platform needs standards if it wants to survive.

I mean not having a file system is one thing, but having a FS on some OS 6 handhelds but not on others is a really bad move. Create one system and stick with it.

RE: More details on the new File system?
hotpaw4 @ 2/20/2004 8:11:26 PM #
VFS as an option is a good move, because a VFS file system would partition memory, which is inapproriate for low cost devices. Also, VFS is not suitable for run-in-place because it fragments data in ways that are usually a complete mismatch for any MMU.

This is what I have been waiting for!!!

EdH @ 2/19/2004 2:17:59 PM #
*Multithreading, multitasking and protected memory
*Wireless communication capabilities
*Seriuosly beefy Address Book records. No more notes for alternate addresses!!! Yipee!!!

Man, this will be killer!

Oh, wait... my iPAQ 3650 I purchased in 2000 does all of this. ;-)

RE: This is what I have been waiting for!!!
abosco @ 2/19/2004 2:46:53 PM #
But not well. :D Both OS's will have their huge flaws with these two different systems that seem to be implemented. PPC's Memory Slider is a joke, and the need to re-launch every app since it's terminated in the background (but not the background processes, just the UI) will make both OS's horrid for a good handle on multitasking.

NX80v + Wifi + BT + T616
RE: This is what I have been waiting for!!!
EdH @ 2/19/2004 5:03:09 PM #
>PPC's Memory Slider is a joke, and the need to re-launch every app since it's terminated in the background (but not the background processes, just the UI) will make both OS's horrid for a good handle on multitasking.

Are you saying OS6 doesn't kill the process but kills the UI? I don't understand that.

Or are you saying the PPC doesn't kill hte process but kills the UI? If that is what you are saying that is not correct. The UI is just hidden by a foreground app, just like a full screen window on your desktop PC is hiding what is behind it, but everything is there, fully loaded.

RE: This is what I have been waiting for!!!
hotpaw4 @ 2/19/2004 6:01:36 PM #
> Are you saying OS6 doesn't kill the process but kills the UI? I don't understand that.

Cobalt shuts down the UI process on an app switch. So, unlike on a PPC, none of a non-thread aware app is left cluttering up memory when the user switches to another application.

However a Cobalt app is allowed to start non-UI threads in a background process which is not killed on app switch. So small parts of a thread aware app can be left running in memory, but only if the app thinks that there is useful work left to be done in the background (for instance, keeping a network socket open temporarily to complete a download because the user ticked "Background Download Allowed" in the applications Preferences, etc.)

Because of this, Cobalt is likely to encourage the development of more low-power low-memory-footprint applications than do other OS's which allow programmers to get away with less modern and less efficient practices.

RE: This is what I have been waiting for!!!
abosco @ 2/19/2004 6:11:47 PM #
>>Are you saying OS6 doesn't kill the process but kills the UI? I don't understand that.

Read for yourself.. co-op postings by Hotpaw and Ben Combee, two well-known developers in attendance at the conference. They explained some of how the multitasking will work, and what steps PalmSource used to cut overhead. One of which was to kill apps themselves, but when an app specifically calls for multithreading with a background process, it will be allowed to do so (and the app itself killed while in the background):

NX80v + Wifi + BT + T616

RE: This is what I have been waiting for!!!
EdH @ 2/19/2004 6:41:06 PM #
Thanks both. Will read up on it.

RE: This is what I have been waiting for!!!
Admin @ 2/19/2004 9:24:12 PM #
ohhh boy... but does that X button close your running apps yet? Do your alarms work? How bout that hardware diversity...
RE: This is what I have been waiting for!!!
RAMd®d @ 2/20/2004 10:40:51 AM #
Oh, wait... my iPAQ 3650 I purchased in 2000 does all of this. ;-)

And quite badly indeed.. Not to mention it's Windows and what a nightmare that is. I've got a slightly newer vintage iPAQ than yours (it was a gift).

The OS is *not* a great performer, and more than a bit flakey. Synching isn't just a function; it's an adventure.

I can't wait to try Cobalt on my T3.

An armed society is a polite society.

RE: This is what I have been waiting for!!!
mikecane @ 2/20/2004 10:54:14 AM #
>>>Synching isn't just a function; it's an adventure.

My God! MS should use that as an ad line!

RE: This is what I have been waiting for!!!
Foo Fighter @ 2/21/2004 12:02:33 AM #
Quote: My God! MS should use that as an ad line!

That, or place a product warning label on the side, similar to Cigarette cartons. Warning! ActiveSync may cause the following medical symptoms: Nausea..Vomiting..dizziness...Chronic fatigue...Depression. All of which may result in suicide or eBay auction.

Contributing Editor, Digital Media Thoughts

RE: This is what I have been waiting for!!!
mikecane @ 2/21/2004 1:05:00 PM #
But then they would add: But if you are delusional enough to ignore all these glaring problems that would cause a *normal* person to take up arms, you *could* qualify to be a Microsoft MVP!


MountainLogic @ 2/19/2004 2:31:56 PM #
"Re-factored" is an interesting choice of words. In current programing jargon it means to improve the quality of the code without changing it's functionality. See for more info.
Strange to use that expression when they are promoting the improved functionality not (the already high) quality of the code.

256 Mb memory limit

RyanP @ 2/19/2004 5:01:42 PM #
any additional explanation on that? Why the limit and why is the limit 256 mb?

RE: 256 Mb memory limit
rsc1000 @ 2/19/2004 6:03:48 PM #
>>any additional explanation on that? Why the limit and why is the limit 256 mb?

Its just arbitrary - they stated that it could easily be upped in future versions. Since the most any OS 5 device has is 128mb of RAM, it is highly unlikely that any OS 6 device would be built with more than 256 mb. If 512mb devices become standard in 2006 - PalmSource will have upped the limit by then. Remember - no device manufacturer offers the ability to upgrade the amount of internal RAM - so its not an issue there either. Also - this doesnt apply to expansion memory/cards, which can go much higher.

RE: 256 Mb memory limit
abosco @ 2/19/2004 6:16:38 PM #
But if they were going to pull something like this, then why not put a resolution cap at 640x480? Not many PDA's will be shipped with a higher resolution than this in the near future, yet PalmSource sees it fit to extend it to 32,000x32,000. So why not put the RAM cap to something like 1 GB? Just seems a little shorthanded to me..

NX80v + Wifi + BT + T616
RE: 256 Mb memory limit
hotpaw4 @ 2/19/2004 6:27:04 PM #
The upper limit on graphics API's is probably set by the number format and internal scale factors.

The upper limit on RAM and processes is usually fixed by the size of tables the OS has to reserve in memory. You don't want to reserve too much if it can't be used, because that would just waste memory. But it's probably a minor tweak (a 0.0.1 rev bump) when a licensee decides it's economical to move to the next larger size memory chips, or faster CPU's.



tfftruoa @ 2/19/2004 6:16:05 PM #
All my PPC friends have been gloating about how wonderful it is to be able to play native mpeg movies in windows media player. That and wifi (myself lacking the enfora case) were the only things they could gloat about. That gloating better be over soon!

Support for native file formats is the greatest leap Palm OS could ever impliment for their system. Hotsync would be reduced to the unified "move files from desktop to palm pilot" app that it should be. There will always be limits to how much a handheld can mimic a desktop, in fact, many apects of desktops are undesirable for handhelds (crashing, huge files, etc.) but requiring conversions for every little thing you want on your palm is just plain stupid(I have a 500mhz celeron HP, so it take around an hour to covert a 3 minute music video to Kinoma).

This may seem more than a little blasphemous, but until I can upgrade my T3 to OS6, Windows Media Player for Palm OS, anyone?

hotpaw4 @ 2/19/2004 6:34:47 PM #
VFS in RAM might require licensee support for a RAMdisk under Cobalt.

I think Tapwave does that now. Makes sense for devices with over 64MB RAM. But I'm wondering why no major licensee includes built-in VFS flash memory, as that would use less power.

bcombee @ 2/19/2004 7:53:22 PM #
Sony includes a internal flash VFS volume on the UX40/UX50 devices... it looks like a 23MB memory stick.

Ben Combee, CodeWarrior for Palm OS technical lead
Programming help at
mikecane @ 2/20/2004 1:19:06 AM #
>>>many apects of desktops are undesirable for handhelds (... huge files ....)

Ebooks can be "huge" files.

JPEGs can be "huge" files.

And videos are most certainly "huge" files.

Huge files are GOOD.

feranick @ 2/23/2004 5:18:47 PM #
The size of files is not my only concern. Using a WiFi enabled PDA, I am wondering if I could download a native file (a pdf, an mp3) and open it in my Palm. Without a desktop that takes care of converting it during hotsync, I may end up not being able to open the file at all.

Any comment?


tfftruoa @ 2/23/2004 11:43:30 PM #
I'm not exactly sure about pdf's, but I know in OS5 I can use webpro to download an mp3 to an expansion card. The bad thing about webpro (im not sure if whatever browser you use does the same thing) is that it saves all downloaded files to a special folder. This folder cannot be read by realplayer and because palm os does not have a folder system on the handheld, it has no apps for moving a file on the memory card between folders. There is a freeware file manager named gentleman which solves this problem. It is esentially a two window file manager, so it can move things between ram and a card, or differant folders on the same card.

Hopefully OS6 will allow more use of conversionless filetypes in the future. My personal goal is to cut out my desktop entirely. I'm already halfway there with a bluetooth printer, internet and an IR keyboard, but I still need to go to the desktop every once and a while...

The Federation for the Responsible Use of Acronyms

Why Can't Multitasking Be Like The Old Psion...

krayzie @ 2/19/2004 10:32:59 PM #
My last PDA (Psion 5mx) has a task manager showing all the programs currently running, and I can close the ones I want with just 2 taps basically on the toolbar (the toolbar shows up no matter where you are in the OS kinda like the new toolbar on the T3), and there's even an emergency key combo that kills any tasks that wouldn't close normally (anyone who used a Psion EPOC R5 would know what I mean)... It's so simple and efficient to multitask, and task switching was quite fast, all on an ARM 36Mhz RISC processor and 16MB of memory... What I read here about 6 taps in order to close a program on the PPC sounds quite ridiculous (or correct me if I've read it wrong, I've never used a PPC before)... The EPOC OS (aka. Symbian OS now) also has a real file system, and windows just read the PDA like a drive... Anywayz, I wish I can go back but it just doesn't have the wireless Internet capability and color and software base like my Palm T3, sigh...

RE: Why Can't Multitasking Be Like The Old Psion...
mikecane @ 2/20/2004 1:21:11 AM #
That Taskbar can also be found on some Linux PDAs, like the Sharp Zaurii. Neat feature.

RE: Why Can't Multitasking Be Like The Old Psion...
helf @ 2/20/2004 12:03:43 PM #
yeah, I was jsut talking to a friend about how I loved teh multitasking on my psion s5 and ericsson mc218 (s5mx). That was nice multitasking. I could run a bajillion apps at the same time with no slow down.
I shouldn't have sold it.

RE: Why Can't Multitasking Be Like The Old Psion...
mikecane @ 2/20/2004 1:32:26 PM #
When The Complete History of Palmtop Computing is finally written years from now, the Greatest Mistake Ever Made will *not* be the foot-dragging from Palm over updating its OS, it will be Psion's neglecting to develop a non-clamshell form factor. They would have been Top Dog, period. They were -- and in some instances still are -- ahead of everyone else. Just didn't get the hardware quite right, dammit.

One Disappointment

pda_xpert @ 2/20/2004 11:31:24 AM #
The Bluetooth Consortium released updated Bluetooth specs last October or November -- v1.2, with some nice improvements. I was hoping BT v1.2 would be included in OS6; PalmSource chose to use the older v1.1 spec. Hopefully 1.2 will be included in the next OS6 release.
RE: One Disappointment
Admin @ 2/20/2004 5:33:55 PM #
They're aren't any bt 1.2 radios out on the market of yet to even take advantage of this, but 1.2 is backwards compatible
RE: One Disappointment
JonathanChoo @ 3/19/2004 5:46:13 AM #
Fujitsu LifeBook S7010 uses CSR's v1.2 BlueCore.

PDAs: Psion 5> Vx > m505 > N770C > T625C > NR70V > Toshiba e310 > T/T > HP h2210 > T/T3/HP h4150 (est arrival 25th March)
Mobiles: StarTac > Ericsson T28m > T39m > T68m > T610 > T630
DigiCam: Minolta DiMage E323

System Sounds

Admin @ 2/20/2004 5:31:16 PM #
One complaint I forgot to make in the article... while there are some new system sounds in Cobalt, like screen taps. the datebook alarms are the exact same as the original pilot 1000 alarms. It's driving me nuts that they can't replace these outdated chirps, fortunately some of the licensees do this
RE: System Sounds
mikecane @ 2/21/2004 1:06:41 PM #
It's like I said: Nagel & Slotnick: *RESIGN*!

RE: System Sounds
Mausoleum @ 4/8/2004 9:21:12 PM #
What are you guys TALKING about? Those sounds are awesome. No, seriously, I really like the original sounds. Why change them? I am sure there are gazillion ways to add more anyways.

Simulator Screenshot

PAjDA @ 2/26/2004 1:55:05 PM #

Revealed! COBALT's origin!

mikecane @ 3/5/2004 5:20:38 PM #
Who would have thunk it?

The absolute irony...

Damn! Does this mean the TT3 will not be Cobalt upgradeable?

Lobo @ 3/18/2004 5:59:29 PM #
As you can see, I'm just getting started in the PDA world. Could someone please tell me if I'm right or wrong? :-)