[plug] linux-friendly pda

Brad Campbell brad at wasp.net.au
Sat Feb 3 22:44:53 WST 2007

Fred Janon wrote:
>> the latter, but I thought I had read that the palm OS was dead.
> I was the team lead for 2 Treo 700 at Palm in 2005. Palm is still using
> PalmOS and there are no plans to abandon it. The Treo line is very very
> successful in the US. PalmSource is working on the next release is
> their OS, based on Linux with a layer on top to keep the compatibility
> with PalmOS, basically a layer to translate the PalmOS API to the Linux
> API. A similar way that Apple when we had to go through an intermediate
> phase to support the 68K on PPC (PowerPC).
> I am actually looking forward to see some devices running the new
> version of PalmOS, I can't wait to do some development with Linux
> *Mobile*.

Against all my gut feelings and better judgement I picked up a Treo 680 a week ago. I don't use 
Evolution though (used to, got sick of it crashing, duplicating calendar entries and generally being 
a pig), I use the KDE PIM apps (on Gnome mind you) and sync it with Kpilot. All I can say is you 
need a big sign reading "There be dragons", but once you get it working it's a treat.

I got sick of carrying a phone and pda around and have been attached to Palm since my first Palm 
Pilot Pro way back when. We have had the whole series of Treo in the family except the 700's and all 
of them have suffered terribly with (and I won't beat around the bush) absolute shit hardware 
quality. Not one of them lasted even half it's warranty life and the 600 went back 4 times for 
replacement. Having said that, we all know HTC make great handhelds (iMate) but have a complete POS 
operating system.

I've got about 4.7k contacts and over 2k calendar entries, and notwithstanding CE won't sync with 
Linux, even when I managed to get them into a CE device it would regularly drop its bundle. It's 
just crap.

So faced with a choice of notoriously awful hardware, and correspondingly bad software I chose the 

So far, it's rebooted on me twice during calls, has a totally crap camera (not that I bought it for 
that, but it makes any $10 webcam look good) has a shite battery life (I need to recharge it every 
day at a minimum). Signal sensitivity is almost as good as my $50 Nokia and you can't get wifi for it.

Now, on the plus side. Once I beat some bugs out of KPilot, it syncs nicely (and I mean real syncing 
with conflict resolution and the stuff we all expect to work - KPilot is still actively developed 
and the guys are accessible), has a reasonable bluetooth range (headset, have not managed to get ppp 
over bluetooth running yet), charges quickly on mains or USB, bar the 2 reboots has not dropped a 
call or otherwise crashed. And has all the advantages of speed and ease of use I remember Palm 
having over the other OS. It's smaller than all its older brothers, light enough that I can drop it 
in my pocket and forget it's there and I'm getting used to the qwerty keyboard again.

Overall, I'd rate it and having had it running properly for only a week am praying they got the 
hardware right this time around coz I don't really want to be without it.

I'm not what you call a power user. It does all my PIM, plus the phone/sms. Bejeweled when I get 
bored and don't have my mp3 player to play doom on and a crappy camera that is passable for taking 
quick snapshots of pieces of paper rather than writing stuff down. I wanted my old Palm Pilot 
reliability and ease of use with a phone built in, and that is exactly what I got. No complaints at 
all and compared to a lot of the others on the market it's pretty good value.

A big warning on SyncML. It sounds nice and all, but the linux implementations are grossly limited 
and generally suck badly.

I've been investigating and testing with borrowed hardware for 6 months now prior to making the 
purchase. CE devices blow goats and are just unreliable. Never had one that did not need a reboot at 
least once a week (remember 4.7k contacts and over 2k calendar entries. Had plenty of people tell me 
how wonderful their iMate is. They usually have all of about 50 contacts and a couple of photos of 
their kids).

Nokia (symbian) devices are hard if not impossible to sync with linux properly and when you have a 
lot of contacts, adding a new contact from a received phone number (as I do a lot) can lock the OS 
up for 2-15 minutes while it scans the contact list!

I looked at the Sony-Ericson stuff, and just gave up..

iPhone is just too damn far away..

Not wanting to wait for a linux smartphone to pop up (and I'll lay 20 bucks on the table that says 
when one does, syncing with linux will still be hit and miss), I decided to bite the bullet and hope 
Palm got it right this time..

Worst case, Palm has very good technical support over here and I bought the 3 year extended 
replacement warranty. I just back it up regularly to the SD card so when it does go bang I can move 
to another phone quickly.

That wound up a little longer than I had anticipated.

"Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability
to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable
for their apparent disinclination to do so." -- Douglas Adams

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