Palm OS 5 to Have Full Browser and VPN

Palm OS 5 will have a full Web browser and a VPN client built-in, according to Network World. PalmSource will be licencing the browser from a third-party, though Steve Sakoman, the company's chief product officer, wasn't willing to say which one. The browser won't be proxy-server based, like Handspring's Blazer. Mr. Sakoman said, "We will be shipping a Web browser with the platform later this year that will allow people to run wild on the World Wide Web."

The Virtual Private Network or VPN client is aimed at corporate buyers who need to make a secure connection to their network over the Internet.

A beta of OS 5 is already available and the final version will go to licensees late this spring or early this summer.

Not included in the first release but planned for later is support for the Java Virtual Machine.

Thanks to teq for the top. -Ed

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A little off topic...

I.M. Anonymous @ 2/13/2002 9:20:58 AM #
I know this is a little off topic, but does anyone know if PalmOS 5 has a revamped file system? Are we stuck with VFS?

RE: A little off topic...
mtg101 @ 2/13/2002 9:34:56 AM #
As far as I know VFS will be unchanged in PalmOS 5. Certainly no mention of changes were made at PalmSource.

And anyway - what specifically is wrong with VFS?



RE: A little off topic...
mikecane @ 2/13/2002 9:44:33 AM #
Are you kidding?! You are kidding, right?! Hve you USED VFS?!

RE: A little off topic...
I.M. Anonymous @ 2/13/2002 9:48:05 AM #
I use it every day. It's fine with me. Rather than using lots of exclamation marks, tell us specifically what you think is wrong with VFS.

Before bring up the tired point that memory cards should work like RAM, I'm going to say I've tried all the apps that are supposed to do this. I found them all slow, buggy, and only worked on some apps. While PalmSource might be able to fix the bugs, it will still be slow. If that was the best way to handle this, your PC would have almost no RAM and make use of its huge harddrive. The fact that a much more mature OS doesn't do this should be a clue that it isn't the way to go.

Do you really want to throw out all the apps that support VFS and start over from scratch? Memory cards are just now starting to become useful.

RE: A little off topic...
Edward @ 2/13/2002 9:48:56 AM #
Yes. What is wrong with it?

RE: A little off topic...
mtg101 @ 2/13/2002 9:50:33 AM #
I use VFS all the time. I store pics on it with my MS Cam, I read books off it, I backup to it. I can't see what overridingly huge problems you're having with it? Can you let us all know the major problems you're having?



RE: A little off topic...
mikecane @ 2/13/2002 10:02:00 AM #
How many files do you have on a card?!

It's not integrated into the OS. People should not have to get third-party patches to seamlessly integrate the card into the OS (and even then, "seamless" is not!). Programs should not care if they are on a card or RAM to run. All programs should see their associated files that reside on a card. And within those programs, we should be able to arrange files in folders and sub-folders. Hey, this is all basic stuff we are used to on desktops. To not offer it on a palmtop is shortsighted (OK, I *want* to say inexcusably stupid!)

You are the one making the case that VFS is good. Tell me how. All I see is that it is s---!

RE: A little off topic...
I.M. Anonymous @ 2/13/2002 10:09:57 AM #
Mike, I think your complaints are more with how companies have implemented VFS in their apps than with VFS itself. Check out Wordsmith for the poster child of how VFS should be used. Files can be on the card or in RAM. They don't have to be in the Launcher folder, and can be categorized in either place.

VFS is still fairly new and developers are still working out how to use it. Time is what is needed, not dumping VFS.

RE: A little off topic...
Foo @ 2/13/2002 10:15:51 AM #
Based on my experiences with sucks! It is very inconsistent and poorly implemented. I would prefer to see full blown File support built into the OS.

RE: A little off topic...
mtg101 @ 2/13/2002 10:16:47 AM #
Saving to files / folders is not something that the OS could provide for legacy apps. Apps will have to take account of VFS and provide dialogs for saving in specific locations if that functionality is required.

The best Palm could do is provide an Open/Close dialog. I doubt they'll do this as the last thing PalmSource want is an OS with Open/Close dialogs - they're horrible things requiring the user to have an intimate knowledge of the working of the file system.

If specific applcations require the ability for users to be able to do file management, they can provide that. For most apps, just putting items in categories is great for users - with the app dealing with where the files are actually stored.

As for native OS PiDirect / MSMount functionality - it's not something most people need. Most people only store data on cards - eBooks, backups and so on. The need for seemless applications working directly off them is not really needed for most people. For most people the way the OS copies apps and their databases into RAM and then runs them is fine.



RE: A little off topic...
rsuplido @ 2/13/2002 10:19:26 AM #
A little more off-topic:

Mike Cane also started a thread a few weeks back in ClieSource regarding how files are actually stored in the Memory Stick. The discussion was interesting. As a gist, it seemed like the Memory Stick (as with hard disks) store files per 8k/16k 'blocks'. Thus, 824 files of 1K size will consume 13.1MB in a 32MB MS!

Here's the link:

I know this is not a VFS topic, but initially, I thought it was VFS related. Can anyone verify if SD/MMC work he same? TIA.


RE: A little off topic...
mtg101 @ 2/13/2002 10:41:01 AM #
Ohh... I'm rusty in this area.. but here's what I remember.

I think both MS and SD use the FAT12 file system. That means there are 2^12 (4096) blocks that information can be saved in. So for a 32MiB card each block is 8KiB big. So no matter how small a file is, the smallest space it can occupy is 8KiB.

This is the same way as the desktop counterparts work. (FAT16 from WIN95 and FAT32 from WIN98 onwards). If you right click on a file in Windows Explorer and choose properties you'll see 2 file sizes given - the size and the size on disk.



RE: A little off topic...
mikecane @ 2/13/2002 10:41:28 AM #
Hey, Ed! Are you still going to do an article comparing MS, CF, MMC, and SD block sizes?!

Very off topic...
I.M. Anonymous @ 2/13/2002 11:12:08 AM #
Reggie, I read Mike Cane's complaints a few weeks ago too and I thought "Is there anyone else on Earth with almost a thousand 1 k files on their handheld?" Probably not.

No, PalmSource shouldn't change VFS. What Mike wants is important to 1 person in 10 million. Mike is just being a squeaky wheel. Doing something that will cause PalmSource to have rewrite a chunk of OS 5 so Mike Cane and only Mike Cane can keep hundreds of small files on his handheld is ridiculous.

Sorry Mike, not a personal slam but there are important things that need PalmSource's attention. This isn't one of them.

RE: A little off topic...
I.M. Anonymous @ 2/13/2002 11:16:47 AM #
Actually, the block size on all memory cards is dependent upon what DOS (and now Windows) determines is appropriate based upon the size of the card. It all goes back to how DOS used FAT12 and FAT16 on floppy and then hard disks.
The issue is really the 'cluster' size (minimun file size) which is separate from the FAT size, but the combination of the 2 determine the max size supported. FAT12 with 4K clusters allows for a max of 16MB (2^12 * 4096), FAT12 with 16K clusters gives a max of 64MB. I think 128MB cards (mem stick, SD, SmartMedia, or CF are all FAT16, typically with 16K clusters for a max size of 1GB)
Some format utilities for DOS/Windows would allow you to format a memory card different ways. You could format an 8MB card using FAT16 and 64K clusters, but it would be very wasteful for storing lots of small files.

RE: A little off topic...
mikecane @ 2/13/2002 11:21:36 AM #
Hello! Why do you think HandEra thinks there's a market for dual-slot units?! MP3 files?!

Massive databases of the kind doctors use aren't the sold reason to have a palmtop -- as you well know.

It's very easy to acquire over 1,000 files.

RE: A little off topic...
mikecane @ 2/13/2002 11:22:57 AM #
%$#@ typos. Sold = sole. Ryan, Ed, let us fix typos! -- or at least registered users (hint to all the IMAs).

RE: A little off topic...
I.M. Anonymous @ 2/13/2002 11:24:37 AM #
Mike, you seem quite vehement in your assertions that VFS is fundamentally flawed.

I myself have no particular attachment to the system.

Can you explain in what way VFS per se is flawed?

As has been said, most your criticisms seem to apply more to the implementation (or lack thereof) of VFS than to VFS itself.

RE: A little off topic...
mtg101 @ 2/13/2002 11:30:20 AM #
Mike - the days of the IMAs is numbered...



RE: A little off topic...
I.M. Anonymous @ 2/13/2002 11:38:04 AM #
Well if VFS is 'the way to go' for a handheld, PalmSource has got to lead the way of the developers and make their own apps that will actually run/read/write files from an external card WITHOUT third party software.

OK so you say the problem isn't with VFS. Maybe that's true. But hell, you'd think that even the PalmOS would support VFS with it's own apps.

RE: A little off topic...
mikecane @ 2/13/2002 11:41:59 AM #
And that number is 666?

I have resisted dragging in the Forbidden Word, but now I must: PPC. PPC has a real filesystem -- so should PalmOS. Maybe it is a responsibility of third parties to use it correctly, but geez, hasn't it been out for a good year now? Where's the flood of good-VFS-using apps? AFAIK, only WordSmith does it right, from what I've read and have been told.

RE: A little off topic...
I.M. Anonymous @ 2/13/2002 11:43:54 AM #
What is an I.M.A.?

RE: A little off topic...
mtg101 @ 2/13/2002 11:44:53 AM #
You are an IMA :-) Unregistered users get the name "I. M. Anonymous".

So Mike - what you'd like to see is a full File/Foldersystem implemented in PalmOS for both the RAM and expansion cards?

That would be a majow overhaul of not only the OS code, but the OS ideology. Palm wanted to get away from files and folders. They make for very nonintuative applications when you have to start dealing with all those sorts of details.

Apps can if they want provide that sort of functionality to users, as Wordsmith or whatever does.



RE: A little off topic...
jjsoh @ 2/13/2002 11:47:07 AM #
"What is an I.M.A.?"

It's you.

RE: A little off topic...
I.M. Anonymous @ 2/13/2002 11:56:22 AM #
There is a *lot* of confusion about what VFS is and isn't. The real problem with VFS is not its capabilities but its API. The API (for those not familiar with the term) is the collection of OS functions that applications can use to perform filesystem operations.

For years, the only way for apps to store data has been the DataManager API. DataManager is what manipulates RAM databases and is responsible for things like categories. Though primitive, the DataManager API is quite focused and gives applications a single, clear, well defined way to work with databases.

When Sony added MemoryStick to the Clie, they needed an API for apps to access it. The result was VFS. Unlike the DataManager, the VFSManager provides very little "abstraction". Applications using VFS have to deal with lots of low-level details like directories, opening files, seeking to specific locations, resizing files, etc. Though this does provide a lot of flexibility, it's totally out of character with the other PalmOS APIs. For Sony, VFS was really a "hack" to get MS support on Palm apps. It was not designed by people with an overall "vision" for the OS and it shows.

VFS doesn't provide a "uniform" way for apps to keep data in files, so developers are forced to invent their own model of how files will be presented to users within the application. Some apps like Wordsmith end up with a pretty good implementation. Other apps don't. In any case, consistancy between apps is virtually impossible because most of the file interaction is built into the app and not the OS.

Of course the VFS APIs themselves have a wide range of defficiencies. That's not something users are ever exposed to, but it does complicate and slow down the process of creating a VFS aware application. With a better API, developers could focus more on usability and less on the nuts and bolts of just getting data in and out of files.

What would be nice is if PalmSource added some functions to the DataManager that would mask the intracacies of the filesystem from the application. It would not be that hard for them to do and would decrease the effort required to add VFS support to a Palm app by an order of magnitude. However I don't expect to see improvements like that until the release after PalmOS 5 at the earliest.

- Dave Kessler, President - Kopsis, Inc.

RE: A little off topic...
mikecane @ 2/13/2002 12:00:44 PM #
Russell: Then why have cards at all? Why not just keep expanding RAM?!

But that doesn't work, either. Sooner or later people will want to have folders and sub-folders, instead of just one big glob.

I don't see the fear! Everyone knows how to use a filesystem on their PC or Mac!

RE: A little off topic...
mtg101 @ 2/13/2002 12:02:46 PM #
RAM will of course increase with time - and I'd say for the forseeable future most people will be able to fit all their apps in their system RAM. (OK - not people like me - I have MSs all over the place with apps all over them - but I'm the exception, not the rule).

You don't need complicated file system management to read eBooks or listen to MP3s. You just put your eBooks on the card and then let your eBook reader manage them into categories. Why should a user be bothered with how their books are saved on the file system?

Lots of people know how to use files and folders, true. Doesn't mean it's a good thing. Lots of people useed to know how to manage them using DOS. Doesn't mean it's a good thing.



RE: A little off topic...
I.M. Anonymous @ 2/13/2002 12:04:00 PM #
Actually, MiniCalc has the ability to store and use files seemlesly from RAM or the external memory cards.

They did it well before WordSmith finally came out with it.

RE: A little off topic...
I.M. Anonymous @ 2/13/2002 12:37:50 PM #
VFS works perfectly fine for what it is designed for: accessing files on one or more volumes. What Palm has done a poor job of doing is providing good, consistent examples of what the user experience should be like for people accessing multiple datasets on multiple volumes. Of course, I'm not sure what a good example of that would be anyhow.

Unfortunately, the other half of the problem is that people don't understand the complexity of the problem they are asking for a solution on. Get a couple REMOVABLE hard drives for your PC, put all of your programs and data on them, and you wouldn't get a very Palm-like experience either.

RE: A little off topic...
Dearman @ 2/13/2002 1:39:06 PM #
"Reggie, I read Mike Cane's complaints a few weeks ago too and I thought "Is there anyone else on Earth with almost a thousand 1 k files on their handheld?" Probably not."

No there are at least 2 prolly quite a bit more and i would also like to see some architecture to the vfs system i have too many field jobs where i have to refer to notes, timetables, spess. ect. to really have to sort through them on the fly

"obstacles are what you see when you take your eyes off your goal"
Henry Ford.

RE: A little off topic...
mikecane @ 2/13/2002 2:17:24 PM #
Russell states that adding a filesystem to PalmOS would require an overhaul -- but isn't that what PalmOS *6* will actually be?

RE: A little off topic...
I.M. Anonymous @ 2/13/2002 2:48:43 PM #
> Russell states that adding a filesystem to PalmOS would
> require an overhaul -- but isn't that what PalmOS *6*
> will actually be?

I am at a loss as to what you think a filesystem is. VFS currently allows you to access and modify the filesystem on expansion cards. From reading Palm's docs, in theory you could add in support to access networked filesystems (Samba, NFS, whatever) under VFS as well. What do you expect a filesystem to do???

RE: A little off topic...
rldunn @ 2/13/2002 2:55:57 PM #
I think the general consumer, myself included, may be confusing the differences between what's in the OS, what is handled by the apps, and what is handled by the hardware. But I think the general complaint is that people want to store all their files and databases and not have to think about it.

Let's look at the solution now. The user just wants seamless access to their files. So they have PiDirect and MSMount and want to start using it. Ok, can I move the app to external memory. I can? Good. OK, now what about my database? Well, is it read-only or modifiable. Hmm, I'm not sure, what does that mean. {Explanation} OK, well then it's modifiable. Then you can't move it to PiDirect or MSMount. But PowerRun can do it for you, although it will be slower. What about the native VFS through the launcher or 3rd-party launchers. Well, you can move the app, but not the databases, and it will be slower than PiDirect/MSMount.

I think the general idea of the earlier posts complaining about VFS is that this whole process just takes too much thought and is very hard to comprehend for those that aren't good with computers/file systems. I would guess that the majority of people on here have very workable solutions, but I bet a lot of people don't use external memory for anything besides backups. Plus, I've heard from more than a few people that their devices with external memory are more confusing and not as stable as the previous devices they had used.

What I think people want is a system where this is all transparent and they can put their apps and databases anywhere they please and the app will run just as well.

RE: A little off topic...
I.M. Anonymous @ 2/13/2002 3:09:34 PM #
People have mentioned WordSmith and MiniCalc, but JFile 5, has the best VFS implementation I have used. It is very smooth, you tap and hold on the file name and choose which card you want to store it on, from then on it loads to ram and saves back to the card. All VFS APPS should be this well written.

IMA ;-)

RE: A little off topic...
sub_tex @ 2/13/2002 3:22:58 PM #
My big issue with VFS is that files stored on the card are just copied into ram to run.

Great for small files, yeah, but when you have large books or docs to open and you don't HAVE that free space on your PDA, then you're outta luck.

That shouldn't be the case. At all.

You complain it runs slower than in ram - well, yeah, of course. Try editing a 30 meg file in photoshop off a zip disk. Slow? you betcha. That's not the point.

You want it faster, put it in ram. For the rest of the users who want to fill up both RAM and memory cards, we should be able to as well.

RE: A little off topic...
sub_tex @ 2/13/2002 3:26:55 PM #
Also, why wouldn't having both options work as well?

The files placed in the default launcher folder or wherever show up in the categories like always.

Files in different subfolders could be accessed by file --> open.

iSilo is like this now. Only difference is it copies that file to RAM which sucks, but at least you can do a simple file --> open.

Users of the built in method and categories wouldn't even have to know about the ability to do sub-folders etc.

But for those who do want it...

RE: A little off topic...
TDS @ 2/13/2002 9:00:42 PM #
Mike cane mentioned above that "PPC had a real File System". Can you run apps off of the CF cards on PPC? I did not know that you could without third party programs. I have not used PPC much, but when I was working on an Ipaq for a customer, I discovered that you could store files and such on a CF card, but not the programs themselves. Am I wrong?
Also, all VFS haters should really try PiDirect. It is a nice alternative. I have a Smartmedia Memplug, so I use VFS for some purposes and PiDirect for others. I find PiDirect to be several orders of magnitude faster for launching applications from the card. MAybe Palm should license this technology for PalmOS 5.1!

RE: A little off topic...
TDS @ 2/13/2002 9:06:34 PM #
I forgot to mention, I thought that IMA meant "I Am Androgynous"
Maybe if Ed changed the IMA logon to say that, more people would register :)

RE: A little off topic...
mtg101 @ 2/14/2002 4:09:09 AM #
Mike - yes PalmOS 6 (or 'the next major upgrade to the OS' a PalmSource likes to say, not giving a number) is a major overhaul of the working of the OS, with a new event model and who knows what else. Maybe then would be a time when they could make changes to the way applications on external cards are handled. But I wouldn't hold your breath.



RE: A little off topic...
mikecane @ 2/14/2002 10:53:46 AM #
Then too bad for Palm, Russell, if that is so.

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