Alexander Gratz

th illume vv 01 Hackndev (Palm Linux) news for Treo ownersYou may remember, a community of developers which are porting Linux to Palm PDAs and smartphones. Well, it was quiet for some time. But this morning, I was checking their homepage and IRC channel and found something new about Treo 650 and Treo 680.

Treo 650

The most recent news on Hackndev states that Illume is running on the Treo. Illume is some kind of a mobile Enlightenment – a user interface, comparable to KDE, Gnome, etc.

The second news says that a developer could make and receive phone calls from his Treo 650 by sending raw commands to the GSM port. In his blog, he describes how to activate it, how to call or how to change different settings.

Treo 680

Sleep_Walker told me about the Treo 680 development success in the Hackndev chat (#hackndev on Now, there is support for IrDA, Bluetooth, USB host and USB client. The USB host is used for connecting the GSM and the Bluetooth module internally. Downloads are not availible yet.

status BrightToolsLite   enhanced management of screen brightness

An important argument for buying a PDA or smartphone is its display. It must be clear and readable, especially when there is much sunlight. In this case, users often have the maximum of brightness activated. In contrast to that, a lower brightness might be better if you use your device at home or in the office – that saves battery life. And if you want to read mails or websites in the evening, or even at night, the smallest possible level of brightness is often the best one for your eyes. In all cases, you have to set the brightness manually to the desired level, for example by pushing and holding the power button or using a special key (on my Tungsten C’s keyboard).

BrightToolsLite by TiGa Software can to solve this problem: you can define the screen brightness for each hour of the day. There are two day profiles: one for battery power and one for external power. Additionaly, you can set four brightness “favourites” which you can activate in the program. While I consider this feature rather useless (it is faster to open the Palm OS standard dialogue for that), the time profile for the display brightness seems interesting for people which change the brightness level often.


iamrich The 1000$ iPhone application for PalmThere is an article about an application that does nothing except showing an icon on your iPhone on TamsiJungle. The program which is called “I am rich” is availible for 1000$ in Apple’s App Store and there seem to be some buyers already.

A similar application is now being made for Palm OS. Unlike the “iPhone edition”, this one is free and availible for download on

Finally, the TamsPalm team managed to relaunch PalmWiki, our Palm OS information database. A Wiki enables every visitor to edit pages, so the whole Palm community can help creating this database.

About two years ago, when TamsPalm moved to another server, the Wiki database and all backups were lost. Luckily, Google’s Cache and had some of the old pages still availible. But as this sites only have HTML code which needs to be converted to MediaWiki code, the import of old data needs some time. But some pages (main page, software, hardware, …) are already present and the Wiki is ready to be used again.

The new URL is:

Using Dmitry Grinberg’s new beta of his SDHC driver, the old Tungsten C supports big SDHC cards! Unfortunately, I only have a 2 GB SD card, but it cannot access this card because its slot driver only supports card up to 1 GB. First, file managers didn’t show any contents, but Palm’s Card Info utility could show me several details about the card.

tcsdhc Tungsten C reads SDHC cards

Then I installed Dmitry’s most recent FAT32 driver which is known to work a Tungsten C, T3 and T5 (and should work on others). Now, FileZ had no problems accessing the card anymore.

As the SDHC driver is an early beta – at least on the Tungsten C – it is still far away from working stable and not availible to the public. For example, it does not recognize the ejecting of a card. Inserting my 2 GB card makes the device freezing. But Dmitry told me that he now has a Tungsten C for testing, so the TC users can soon extend their handheld with 2 GB (and higher) memory cards.

Claws Mail

The mail client of Ubuntu MID supports multiple accounts, searching, templates, different protocols (POP, IMAP), attachment and also plugins, for example HTML readers or spam filters. Some of them are availible in the Ubuntu software repository.

screen17 150x150 Ubuntu MID   part 3: communication screen191 150x150 Ubuntu MID   part 3: communication screen192 150x150 Ubuntu MID   part 3: communication screen197 150x150 Ubuntu MID   part 3: communication screen194 150x150 Ubuntu MID   part 3: communication screen19 150x150 Ubuntu MID   part 3: communication

I could access my two mailboxes (T-Online, simple POP/STMP and Google Mail, IMAP/SMTP with special port and encryption settings).


Pidgin supports many chat protocols, for example ICQ, IRC, Jabber, MSN Messenger or Yahoo Messenger, and there are plugins for others (e. g. Skype). You can have multiple accounts. Your contacts are ordered in a “Buddy List”. Beside chatting, there is also an option for sending files to other buddies.

screen07 150x150 Ubuntu MID   part 3: communication screen08 150x150 Ubuntu MID   part 3: communication screen081 150x150 Ubuntu MID   part 3: communication screen082 150x150 Ubuntu MID   part 3: communication

I tried to log into my Google Chat account, but I got no connection. IRC was no problem.


screen20 150x150 Ubuntu MID   part 3: communication screen211 150x150 Ubuntu MID   part 3: communication screen35 150x150 Ubuntu MID   part 3: communication

First image: Terminal Server Client, second image: Ekiga Softphone, third one: Liferea (feed reader for RSS, CDF, Atom and OPML).

In the next part, we will have a closer look at the multimedia features.

After listing all the launcher’s applications, we will now see how the browser works. Beside the browser (MidBrowser), Ubuntu MID contains a mail client (Claws Mail), a chatting client (Pidgin), a VoIP application (Ekiga) and an RSS reader (Liferea) – these will be presented in the next article.

Although I made networking active in QEmu, Ubuntu MID did not connect to the network. I had to choose the network button and tap on “Wired Network”. So you can control whether it connects to your (Wireless) LAN or mobile phone network or not, but perhaps there will be an option to start the connection automatically, too.

Web Browser

The browser is called “MidBrowser”, but it works exactly as Firefox 3.0: It has not only the same engine (Gecko), but the same settings dialogues, the same bookmark management, download manager and plugin system. If you are a Firefox user like me, you will find again the same features you use on your desktop machine.

Every site I opened was rendered correctly. It couldn’t display YouTube videos, either. But when you install a Flash plugin, this should be no problem.

When I tried to install a plugin (SwitchProxy), it was downloaded, but the installation failed because of the wrong browser (MidBrowser, but it expected Firefox). But after a small modification, this should work too – SwitchProxy didn’t even work on my desktop’s Firefox 3.0, as it expected version 2.x, so the version number had to be added.

screen121 150x150 Ubuntu MID   part 2: communication screen122 150x150 Ubuntu MID   part 2: communication screen10 150x150 Ubuntu MID   part 2: communication screen11 150x150 Ubuntu MID   part 2: communication

The first two pictures show the homepage of MidBrowser in two different zoom levels. As the new Firefox / MidBrowser also supports image zooming, this may be a useful feature when viewing big sites on the small screen (resolution).

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Google Maps also works! When I tried to use Google Street View however, there was a message that no Flash player is installed. The fourth image shows the browser’s RSS reader and on the last image you can see different tabs.

screen1291 150x150 Ubuntu MID   part 2: communication screen1292 150x150 Ubuntu MID   part 2: communication screen1293 150x150 Ubuntu MID   part 2: communication screen1294 150x150 Ubuntu MID   part 2: communication

The first image shows what happens when you tap on a link to a file (in this case, a MS Word document) – you may know this dialogue already from Firefox. It recommends opening this file in OpenOffice – but there is no OpenOffice in the launcher?! – more about that later. You also see the download manager in the second image, the settings dialogue in the third one and a plugin installation in the fourth one.

The user agent of this browser is:

Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686; en-US; rv:1.9) Gecko/2008061813 Firefox/3.0

This browser seems to be the right choice for Ubuntu MID. It has one of the best rendering engines and can be customized very well (many plugins, which are availible for Firefox, can be modified to run also on MidBrowser). In the next article, we will show the other communication programs.

Many technology news sites have reported that there is a new special version of Ubuntu for UMPCs (ultra mobile PCs) / MID (mobile internet devices). These devices often have a touchscreen, no keyboard and connect to the internet by Wireless LAN or a mobile phone network. TamsPalm has had a look at an early developer’s demo version.

screen03 300x180 Ubuntu MID   part 1: application list

In the first part of this article, I wrote a list of applications appearing in the main menu:

  • Pidgin 2.3.1 (client for several chat protocols)
  • GPE File manager 0.2.5
  • MidBrowser 0.3.0RC1 (similar to Firefox 3.0, web browser)
  • Pimlico Tasks 0.1.3, Dates 0.4.6, Contacts 0.8 (personal organizer)
  • Cheese (taking photos)
  • Moblin Media 0.55-0ubuntu2 (music, photos, videos)
  • Claws Mail 3.3.1
  • Terminal Server Client 0.150 (frontend for rdesktop, vncviewer, wfica, xnest)
  • Neverball
  • Ekiga 2.0.12 (Voice over IP)
  • FBReader (E-book reader)
  • Foobillard
  • Update Manager
  • Neverputt
  • Office Document Reader (converts MS Word, Excel and PowerPoint files to PDF files for Evince)
  • Terminal (uxterm, bash)
  • Frozen Bubble (game)
  • Alarm Clock
  • Galculator 1.3.1
  • Mousepad 0.2.13 (simple text editor)
  • Liferea 1.4.14 (RSS, … feed reader)

The other parts of this article with a closer look at the applications will be published soon.

img 5083 150x150 Palm OS: Remote control for your carA German software developer is currently programming a new software solution for Palm OS. With this software, you can use your Palm as a remote control for your car – at least, for some cars. At the moment, we can report that he has successfully tested his project with his BMW 735i (E38). He uses a GSM data connection to the car’s mobile phone. After establishing the connection, he can control almost all parts of the car, e. g. the GPS navigation, radio, TV, automatic climate control, seats, windows and even drive his car.

img 5085 300x225 Palm OS: Remote control for your car img 5084 300x225 Palm OS: Remote control for your car
According to the developer, he can only control some cars, like this BMW, with a high-tech electronic system which can control the motor, the automatic gearbox, etc. Furthermore, he needs a self-written modificiation of the car’s operating system which he writes into its flash memory. The current status of the remote control can also be viewed in the car (left: normal screen; right: is shown when connection is established).

img 5076 Palm OS: Remote control for your car img 5079  Palm OS: Remote control for your car

The application’s handling of the car has still to be improved, but he can already start the motor and drive around. He told me that he drives every morning to the bakery while lying in bed.

TamsPalm will keep you informed about this project. We will write about this again as soon as the developer provides us with additional information.

The new version of Ubuntu, which is currently in a beta state, uses the kernel 2.6.24-12.13, GNOME 2.22, 7.3. Firefox 3 Beta 4 is included, as well as Inkscape 0.46 (vector graphics), Brasero (CD, DVD writer) and 2.40. This version may have some bugs; the final version will be released in April.

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Ubuntu 8.04 Beta Release (

 OpenMoko running on a Treo 650Zefanja, a member of the German Palm forum, has published a blog entry where he posted some screenshots of his Treo 650 running OpenMoko, a mobile Linux GUI.

OpenMoko is a Linux GUI for mobile phones. It is pre-installed on the Neo1973 smartphone, but it also runs on a lot of other smartphones which support Linux, for example Palm or Pocket PC phones.

This has also been tried in July 2007 on another Treo 650, and it also runs on the Palm TX. Among this GUI, there are also some others, including GPE and OPIE. These two also run on almost all Palm OS 5 PDAs and users report that they are much faster than OpenMoko.

You can find information about OpenMoko on their project site.

Yesterday, the developer team of PDAPerformance sent a mail to all beta testers of Saguaro and wrote that the development of Saguaro has been cancelled.

PDAPerformance wanted to program a new GUI for Palm OS. A first public demo of it, called “LineUp”, showed a GUI consisting of widgets with interesting visual effects.

 Palm OS on an iPhone / iPod Touch (StyleTap)ZDNet’s blog “The Mobile Gadgeteer” links to a video showing StyleTap running on Apple’s iPhone. According to the author, the experimental version already runs fast.

StyleTap makes it possible to run Palm OS applications on different other mobile platforms. At the moment, there is a version for Windows Mobile availible. Especially former Palm OS users which now have a Windows Mobile smartphone often have StyleTap so that they can use their old programs.

At present there are few native iPhone applications availible (but many thousands are availible for Palm OS or Windows Mobile), so StyleTap for the iPhone also means that users can run almost every kind of software on their iPhone.

On StyleTap’s FAQ, the developers say that they might release versions for the iPhone, Symbian OS and also forGoogle’s Android.

Thanks to Alphasmart User for the link!

I have written a small review about Android, the new operating system for smartphones at TamsPPC. Currently, there is only an emulator with three applications (Browser, Contacts and Google Maps), but there is already a lot to see.

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