Comments on: Discussion: Linux on a Springboard

Mike Cane has been a vocal member of the mobile community for a long time. In October of 1999, Mike wrote a guest editorial on PIC about the possibility of Jeff Hawkin's new PDA at the time, the Handspring Visor, of using the linux OS via a memory expansion module. In light of recent events, PalmInfocenter is re-publishing Mike's original article for a new discussion.
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Next stop... 1969 Ba-Beeeee... Groovy!

The_Voice_of_Reason @ 12/9/2004 3:56:36 AM #
1999. Those were the days. We "old skoolers" remember how much fun Palm was "back in the day". Palm lost that grassroots kinda buzz soon after the IIIx came out (remember the axxPAC?).

Nothing revolutionary, here, Mike. A lot of us talked about hacking a Linuxed Palm, but PDAs are/were primarily about UI, speed and stability. And Palm already had all three in spades, even running on a slowpoke Dragonball processor.

The old devices were simple and just plain WORKED. The Zen of Palm is dead. I had hoped that Cobalt would bring the Zen back by removing all the kludges now necessary to get stuff done. Looks like the Be engineers couldn't pull it off.

Does PalmSource seriously think this little Chinese startup can save the platform? How naive. How sad.

Sony CLIE UX100: 128 MB real RAM, OLED screen. All the PDA anyone really ever wanted.

RE: Next stop... 1969 Ba-Beeeee... Groovy!
mikecane @ 12/9/2004 8:31:35 AM #
PalmOS 5.x -- as least as put together by palmOne on the TE I have -- is an abomination.

Almost as bad is having to read something I wrote 5(!; where'd all the time go?) years ago.

RE: Next stop... 1969 Ba-Beeeee... Groovy!
hkklife @ 12/9/2004 9:36:00 AM #
Back in late '99 or so, when the Palm V was new and being drooled over by everyone, I thought the sky was the limit for PDAs. I figured that within two years we'd have a color V with some kind of wireless (Omnisky-esque) capability built-in. Here we are 5 years later, still waiting for something approaching a Palm V formfactor with color & wi-fi/BT and many execs still merrily using their Palm Vs.

As to the main issue here----GOOD GOD, MIKE--that's an eerily prophetic article. Had you forgotten about writing it or had you been dropping references for the past half-decade to that article and your comments about Handspring being not wedded to the Palm OS/Palm devices just being one of HS's product lines? This timely (yet spookily prescient!) report should shut up all of the "MikeCon" flames for a while. Let the kiddies go back to their GameBoys...the other Oracle (sorry, TVoR) of PIC has spoken!

Finally, that's a finely written piece-nothing to be ashamed of there. Have you ever seriously considered pleading with Handheld Computing Magazine or Brighthand for a "paid" monthly column ala my other favorite grumbly curmudgeon, John C. Dvorak?

RE: Next stop... 1969 Ba-Beeeee... Groovy!
mikecane @ 12/9/2004 10:05:35 AM #

Kirvin makes an intriguing point:

>>>I don't know how soon PalmSource is going to make this available, but the sooner the better. Why? To retrofit Pocket PCs, of course. There's already an effort underway to port Linux (the Familiar distro, I believe) to the HP hx4705. I would love to get PalmOS for Linux on that thing.

Hahahaha. Wouldn't *that* be hilarious?

In one fell swoop, PS manages to kill itself *and* its major licensee.

I can't say I'd be sorry.

I loved my Visor Prism...

pkuhns @ 12/9/2004 8:49:19 AM #
The non-flashable OS was kinda annoying (POS 3.5.2?) but it was a cool-ass device. If only it had 320x320 UI (yum!) Sony-style. Linux would have been uber-geeky-cool. Did I mention I loved my Visor Prism?

Nokia 3650 bluetooth magnate
RE: I loved my Visor Prism...
Palm Addict @ 12/9/2004 7:23:32 PM #
Hey, I'm still using my Visor Prism!

Eventhough it's very outdated already (compared to others nowadays), it still does the job for doing the basic stuff for daily use. And like everybody out there that's been bitten by the Visor bug (w/ various springboard expansion stuff), I was enamored by the hardwares potential. But now that technology (sort of) has come of age (convergence), I'm going to eventually replace it (as my primary PDA) with a Treo 600 (should've been the Treo 650, but P1 failed to impress me with its specs!) this holiday season.

Retro stuff aside, so what happened really with the Linux thing on the Visor? Was it sort of an unfinished business back then, an experiment or idea worth pursuing by a licensee; but is now being pursued by Palm Source itself?

And now that Palm is split into two, does Hawkins (w/P1) got anything to do with the idea of Palm OS (w/PS), or the idea was more or less justified by PS only now because of its possibilities and possible competition to the Palm OS back then, and/or because of the delay regarding Cobalts release on any new hardware = no income for PS on its Cobalt efforts?

m505 > Visor Prism > Visor Prism + Visor Phone + EyeModule + FlashPlus > Treo 600 ( this holiday season! )

Marketing Mouseketeers take note

numlock @ 12/9/2004 11:05:49 AM #
This article was visionary five years ago and remains so today.
RE: Marketing Mouseketeers take note
atrizzah @ 12/13/2004 2:25:12 PM #
It was neither visionary then nor now. The title alone should make it painfully obvious, but I'll expain anyway--the great revolutionary Handspring Mike talked about then is now a footnote in the history of Palm. And the OS is still going to be PalmOS, only the kernel is changing. This is a great thing, but it has very little importance to most users. How much does anyone know about Microsoft's kernels? Very little, because it's something that the user doesn't interact with. The only reason Linux is so famous as a kernel is because that's where the project started, so the kernel has forever become connected in user's minds with the rest of the operating system, including the less famous but equally essential userland applications, like the GNU suite.

I don't know what the hell a Linux Springboard module would actually do, but show me one and then I'll call Mike Cane a visionary.

Peace Out

As mikecane has said a million times

robman @ 12/9/2004 12:37:14 PM #
<< Mike would also like to someday see the Palm OS clipboard memory and Memo database size limits removed someday... >>

This seems to be the most fundamental message of the Palm OS story. Designs limited by original commodity hardware still plague the system, almost a decade later. PalmSource cannot fix these things without breaking lots of legacy stuff with third-party applications. New versions of the OS (namely, 5 and 6) are based on collosal hacks and emulation layers designed to maintain compatbility with the old OS 1 system while still boasting aspects of a "modern" OS with crap like multi-tasking and multimedia.

The brilliance of the original PalmOS, though, was that it was not a scaled down version of a desktop OS. This is the problem with Windows CE/Mobile, the problem with Linux-based PDAs like the Zaurus. And it's now the problem with the PalmOS.

I predict that the PDA will die, to be replaced by devices like the OQO. Smartphones will continue to gain popularity, but I think before long we will start to see dumbphones---devices that are little more than a bluetooth-GSM bridge and a headset which tie into a an ultraportable PC.

Palm has the chance to stop this, by leveraging the great applications out there (which is all that has ever kept them alive). Instead of buying Be and now CMS, they should have bought
DataViz, Chapura, and PocketTunes, and gave their apps away free with all the licensees.

I don't think PalmSource and PalmOne are dead, but the move to Linux is not going to breathe as much life into them as they hope. The whole PDA market will collapse, and Microsoft---who still owns Windows XP for the OQO---will declare themselves victorious.

Palm OS 6 is hard because

Palm Enthusiast since 1998

RE: As mikecane has said a million times
mikecane @ 12/9/2004 1:00:28 PM #
Actually, according to a dev who sells a Clipboard expansion utility, creating a larger Clipboard would *not* damage existing apps at all. It's just outright stupidity on p1's part. (And, I guess, I'm sad to say, Tapwave's!)

As for the OQO, I love it too. Will Nagel ever catch on to *that* running his "new" PalmOS?



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