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 GPE/Linux on a Tungsten C GPE/Linux on a Tungsten C

When I reviewed Linux on the Palm Tungsten T3 and reported about the slow speed, my inbox(and my house) filled up with hate mail slowly but surely. Linux is a multitasking OS and thus slower, Linux is opensource(as if that were a reason, woo-hoo), etc.

Anyways, please don’t get me wrong – Linux is damn cool, and I really enjoyed it running on my Palm Tungsten T3. However, speed seems to be an issue al opver the place, according to Ovum telecoms analyst Tony Cripps.

In a recently published article by ZDNET on mobile Linux, he states that:

…the hardware specifications required by Linux are still too high to make it a sensible proposition for lower-end phones, according to Cripps. “The hardware requirements of Linux need to come down to the point where it becomes a simple equation around numbers, where it’s financially more viable to do it with Linux,”….

This is something I can definitely agree to!

After our Linux on Tungsten T3 review, a few readers asked if Linux runs on their devices.

This table contains a list of all supported machines where Linux currently runs, is beeing ported to, etc:

Interestingly, almost every HiRes capable Palm OS handheld has a port for it; however, none of the Sonys is currently showing any real progress.

Analysts all over the net(TamsPalm included) were buzzing about the “Linux for Palm OS PDA” ports at and other sites. Now, I decided to do the practical test on a Palm Tungsten T3 – let’s see how the free OS looks currently.

First of all. w00t! to the developers! I would have never managed to create something that would have managed to boot up a machine as complex as a Tungsten T3 – what they accomplished without any help from Palm is incredible! However, for the rest of the review, I’ll compare Linux to Palm OS fairly and ask for your understanding that Linux will not get baby treatment…

Just to put that clear – THIS IS NOT ALP! This is a Linux port by indie developers who managed to “hack” themselves into the Palm OS handheld’s hardware in their spare time, without support from Palm Inc!

Getting Linux to run was simpler than before – now, there is no more need for a web server and other thingies. All you need to do is sync Garux(the Linux bootloader for Palm OS) to your PDA and install two files(about 15 Megabytes) to your SD card. The files needed are available from SourceForge and hackndev; I used the following files:

Put into /Palm/Launcher:

Put into /linux2ram:

A card access tool like Softick Card Export can be very helpful if you don’t have a dedicated card reader. After that, you can start Garux from your memory card. The program will show you a list of options, I fared pretty well with the defaults altough our local Linux Nut Alexander Panek changed the init parameter to /linux2ram once or twice. Clicking Start Linux will wipe the Palm OS from your RAM, the only way to get it back is a hard reset.

After a few seconds, Garux will ask you to choose your boot source. Press the To Do button and afterwards the Calendar button to boot from SD card:
whatnow Linux for Palm Tungsten T3   review
In most cases(95% of the time on my T3 with a 1GB HP SD card), the bootloader will show error messages like the ones below and will die – in that case, hardreset, change the initrd parameter and try again. It will eventually work(a full battery increases your odds):
dead Linux for Palm Tungsten T3   review
If the bootup process works(congratz, you are lucky), GPE will ask you for a few configuration settings like default user name. Interestingly, the calibration uses 4 points instead of the two the Palm OS uses:
1 Linux for Palm Tungsten T3   review 2 Linux for Palm Tungsten T3   review 3 Linux for Palm Tungsten T3   review

After completing all the steps, GPE will be ready to “run”. OK, Bluetooth, Sound, the slider, charging LED, battery status indicator and the power off button aren’t supported yet; but the touchscreen and memory subsystems are no problem. This 3gp video shows GPE in ‘action’.

The GPE system is rather similar to the Palm OS-this 3GP video shows the launcher and “task bar” in action. The status bar at the bottom of the screen is miore feature-rich than the Palm OS one, you can add loads of so-called Panels to show different aspects of the system.

However, GPE is mind-boggingly slow when launching applications. My old vintage Palm IIIc beats the Tungsten T3 by far, and launching a few apps at the same time(like 10 or so) totally kills the operating system. This 3gp video shows a little “speed benchmark”.

Overall, kudos to the Hackndev folks for creating a port of Linux that runs on the T3. Indeed, applications start and the touchscreen works – but that is about it. The operating system gets mind bogglingly slow when you launch more than one application at the same time and is generally rather slow. The lack of many features and the difficulties at powerup just add to the picture: a great product with loads of future potential, but it can’t compete with the Palm OS yet!

P.s. If soneone has an email address of the developer, please give it to me(post it here). I really really want to talk to him to explain the review more and give him my “bug list”.

The development of the Linux ports for Palm OS is fast. The newest story: writes about the newest Linux for the T|T3, which supports booting from a SD card and mounting it in Linux. Now, according to the T3 page in the Wiki everything works on the T|T3, except Bluetooth – but they are already working at Bluetooth support -, turning the device off and on and sound.

While many other Palms are supported by Linux, too, the T3 is the most supported machine. The most unsupported machines are TE, TE2 and T5 while the TE2 and T5 ports were just updated, supporting touchscreen,… So I’m very optimistic that many Linux ports will be ready and user-friendly, at least next year! writes that the T|T3 Linux port now has a working SD driver and supports booting from a SD card!

Download and additional info:

Getting PalmOS PDA’s connected to Linux boxen is a bit hairy-but we managed to dig up yet another tutorial for you:

Some of us aren’t quite satisfied with Palm OS and prefer Linux. Over the last few weeks, many handhelds were enabled to boot Linux. In order to simplify your search, here is a list of supported devices:

  • LifeDrive
  • TT2
  • TT3
  • TT5
  • TX
  • Treo 650
  • Zire 71
  • Zire 72

But the site doesn’t only contain news about Linux. It also contains impressive images of Linux booting (and crashing) on various handhelds, all kinds of insider news about hardware configuration,… .

Get more info here:

P.s. And if someone of you has an idea of how the MMC system of the TT3 works, it would be too kind to help them out (anonymously).

Most of us know that the Tungsten T3 has a gtreen led at the top left corner. However, the Linux programmers now found out that the Tungsten T3 can also display red, as it is equipped with a multicolor LED(at least one seems to be).

filest The Tungsten T3 has a RED Led

Get the full scoop here:

There are several GUIs for Linux on desktop computers: KDE, GNOME, … On handheld computers, the most famous ones are GPE and OPIE.

Today we’ll have a look at GPE. The Palm-Linux development is very young, so there aren’t many devices which support GPE at the moment. But on the GPE project page ( there is some information and screenshots where we can look at.

To see the applications of GPE, click on Projects. There you can read about PIM apps, multimedia apps and so on.

Documentation contains useful information about GPE and its apps. There are many screenshots.

Now, let’s look at some screenshots (

port 16036 Linux on a Palm   GPE quick review
port 22058 Linux on a Palm   GPE quick review
html.cgi?fn=land.7696 Linux on a Palm   GPE quick review
PIM apps

port 9639 Linux on a Palm   GPE quick review
port 23279 Linux on a Palm   GPE quick review
file management

port 22574 Linux on a Palm   GPE quick review
multimedia apps

port 7530 Linux on a Palm   GPE quick review
wireless card recognized Linux on a Palm   GPE quick review
gpe mini browser2 Linux on a Palm   GPE quick review
gpe mail1 thumb Linux on a Palm   GPE quick review

port 7204 Linux on a Palm   GPE quick review
port 22016 001 Linux on a Palm   GPE quick review
several themes

port 22733 Linux on a Palm   GPE quick review
port 21468 Linux on a Palm   GPE quick review
port 13649 Linux on a Palm   GPE quick review
port 22570 Linux on a Palm   GPE quick review
land 6043 Linux on a Palm   GPE quick review
well-known apps running on GPE: GPSDrive – Minimo – VideoLAN – GNumeric

To type letters, Rosetta (handwriting recognition) and a virtual keyboard is used.

So, what do you think of GPE?

Below you can see on which devices which features work with Linux.

TX T T2 T3 T5 E E2 C LD Zire 72 UX 50
LCD works works works works todo works todo works works works todo todo
todo todo
works works todo todo todo works works todo todo todo
works works works works todo works works works works works todo todo
UNC todo todo
works works todo - todo todo todo - todo todo
USB todo works works works todo todo todo works todo in progress
todo todo
serial todo todo
works not tested todo - todo todo works - todo todo
tested in progress
todo todo todo works works, HDD in progress
works todo todo
BT todo
todo todo todo - todo todo todo todo
IR todo
todo todo todo todo todo todo works todo todo
- - - - - todo todo - todo -
- - - - - in progress
- - todo -
LED - todo
todo todo - - - todo todo - todo todo

What do you think? Will you run Linux on your Palm when it will work well?

Some of you may still remember the Newton line of PDA’s produced by Apple(yeah, those guys). Anyways, a few people recently managed to port a Newton emulator over to the Sharp Zaurus family of Linux powered PDA’s.

The speed still is rather mediocre apperently, but the OS is said to be working. Maybe we will see this on our Linux powered LifeDrives/etc soon!

Read more on Adam’s excellent blog:

Do you own a Newton?

Our friends over at LockerGnomes just informed us that the PSP is now able to boot both Windows and Linux operating systems via Bochs.

Anyways, the full scoop is available at ExtremeTech’s:,1558,1906807,00.asp

Do you believe that this will be popular? If you ask me, I believe not really. A PSP lacks input possibilities, a touch screen, a keyboard, 1 GIG of memory is not much. Also, the puny 32 megs of RAM are a killer for most apps. If you add in that USB sticks aren’t too tolerant to write cycles, this may be an impressive bit of tech 0wnage, but will have little practical value.

BTW, the news came to LockerGnome via hack in the box!

Windows und Linux auf der PSP

Bei LockerGnomes kann man nachlesen dass man auf der PSP nun Windows und Linux via Bochs starten kann!

Das ganze kann auch bei ExtremeTech gelesen werden:,1558,1906807,00.asp

Denken Sie dass dies beliebt sein wird? Ich denke nicht wirklich. Der PSP fehlt ein Touchscreen, eine Tastatur, und 1 GB Speicher ist nicht viel. Auch 32 MB RAM sind hinderlich. Das ganze ist nicht wirklich zum Arbeiten geeignet.

Das ganze kam durch hack in the box! zu LockerGnome.

We already reported the last week about Hack&Dev ( and their success with Linux on a LifeDrive or Tungsten|T3. Now their are some news:

  • On their news site you can read that there is a patch for Palm Zire 72, so this device should be compatible now.
  • As you can see on one of their pictures, they managed to run X ( on Treo 650. The touchscreen doesn’t work yet, but as it uses the same codec as the LifeDrive it should be done soon.
  • The member _H_o_L_E_ of the German Palm board Nexave managed to run GPE on his Tungsten|T3. Below some screenshots:

You can see GPE – the GUI and some apps. While you run GPE the Palm has to stay connected with the desktop by cable as it runs GPE via NFS. The device cannot be powered off, and there is no support for Bluetooth, etc. – yet. You can view further pictures in the German board: (it’s a very large thread. You can find the pictures in the 60th reply).

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