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> Introduction, Some of my lost loves
post Feb 28 2010, 10:37 PM
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I have read several books on various linux flavors over the past 5-10 years.
I bought a Sharp SL-5500 Collie about 2 years ago. I hoped to be able to use it as a web based pc phone, database, word processor, spreadsheet, etc. The keyboard and Linux (a real o/s) sold me. I want to download the tkcROM with 2G SD access and the SharpROM 3.13. I have successfully used a VNC server on my desktop, which has a tv tuner card, and the VNC client for the SharpROM to change channel on the desktop computer wirelessly via my LAN. This allows me to use the desktop as if it were a TV, while still remaining productive on my laptop computer. My son used the real TV while I use the desktop to watch my programs.

Previously,I had a Palm Pilot for a week, then returned it when I discovered it had no backup battery and no way to interface to it effectively, also no way to program it without buying a crippled half functional compiler for more than the cost of the hardware. I traded it for a WindowsCE box, the Casio E-15, which had a backup battery in case the main battery failed. It could be interfaced, accepted CF cards, but still no joy on really being able to program it. When it died (from dis-use?) I looked and found the Zaurus SL-5500. I owned an older Zaurus clamshell organizer that still boots and still has my original data after years of sitting in a drawer with dead batteries. Very impressive. I had only retired it because the hinges both broke after two years of constant traveling. So, when I found the Sharp was making a Zaurus again, and it was Linux based, and had a keyboard with real keys instead of some touchscreen substitute, I could not resist.

I did not, and still do not, really know Linux. But, I am learning.
I installed Ubuntu on a Win2k desktop after trying redhat and not seeing how to proceed.
At first, Ubuntu seemed obtuse also, but slowly I am finding my way around.
Reading and doing are not the same.

Wanting to make the zaurus collie useful beyond a PDA has spurred me to try learning linux more.
I bought a second collie when the price on EBay dropped below $100. I also bought a Sandisk connect plus 128 CF card, thinking it would be better (wireless plus RAM) than the Ambicom wireless card I already had. But, no. The Sandisk is not recognized. I found a fix to get it recognized but have not tried it yet.

My main reason for buying a second sl5500 was so that I would have one to use if I fried the other one by trying a different ROM. I was afraid to brick my ONLY Zaurus. I am now not afraid to brick one, but OE is depricated, Angstrom has NO reports of successful installation and boot-up that I can find. Other distros are hard to find feeds for. Sharp site is permanently down. Luckily, I have tried to collect and d/l as many packages as I could see a future use for while browsing and learning (lurking). Still ncurses5 problem stops kismet from working. I am glad to see so many of the resources that were disappearing are being reconstituted or resurrected at OESF.

I am running Sharp ROM 3.1 on both Collies. I was hoping to download Sharp Rom 3.13 and tKcROM that allows 2G SD card. I also need to figure out how to get kexec to work. I did some reading, but it seemed that it does not work with everything and cannot be used while keeping SharpROM (or am I mistaken?).

I became more serious about beginning the switch to Linux when I was forced to accept Windows Vista on a new computer because all WinXP computers were removed from inventory nationwide. Vista has finally settled down and become fairly stable after two or years and the addition of more RAM, but it irritated and alarmed me to be so helplessly dependent on the whims of Microsoft after 30 years of computing. I hate that MS can decide they need to increase their profit margin, so I have to replace ALL of my application software and everything I have every written or used is now inaccessible or broken in/by Vista.

I just purchased another laptop because the current one's fan is dying and $100 for a fan seems like just the right amount to put toward a new machine. The new one has Win7 on it. I have not even booted it up yet. I am looking at Mint8, Ubuntu9.10, and Debian as possible o/s's. I will probably try Mint first, because there are reports of it mostly working out of the box with the HP DV7 series, which this is. Also, Ubuntu 9.10 is probably not much different from 8.4, which I already use somewhat on the desktop.

One of the main holdups on the desktop is that there are no linux drivers for the ATI All-In-Wonder TV tuner cards. I have three of them. I know it is ATI's fault for not providing source or binary drivers. But, it still is a show stopper. I wish I knew how to wrap the Win2k drivers to run in linux, then I would be set. I tried the Hauppauge tv tuner cards, but was unimpressed.

I have been using computers for 30 years, I built my first computer from a Sinclair kit before Timex bought Sinclair. Then I used Commodore 64 and 128 and learned them inside out. Learned assembly and machine code for them. Wrote drivers for them. Then came IBM/Microsoft and overnight everything I knew was useless. I went to IBM/MS because my customers did and I needed to support them.

I long for the good old days when I could write a program in BASIC or FORTRAN and run it on an HP-45, Casio, TI, or nearly anything else to do my engineering calcs. However, spreadsheets have nearly replaced most needs in that regard. I still need to interface handheld computers to field equipment, though, and that requires some kind of access to the bare metal. I wrote some engineering/land surveying calculation and data collection programs for the Sharp/Casio/Texas Instruments/RadioShack handheld computers about 25 years ago and sold them along with the hardware to run them for several years.

The computers used to always come with at least one programming language, even if it was interpreted. I have learned C and C++, but they are nearly useless now without also knowing Microsoft Foundation Classes, .NET, et cetera. It seems I no sooner learn something, then it is depricated anymore. I hope to find Linux allows me to really re-use some code before it's dependencies are tossed aside.

I expect to eventually be able to give back to the linux community. But, I first need to get my bearings. This would have been so much easier to do in the old DOS days, it seems. But, here we are and Linux is looking more and more like it is ready to give MS some competition in the consumer market.

I hope to get more use out of my Zaurii. However, they are serving to educate me in Linux. They are convenient testbeds for learning the command line and my way around the terminal. It is nice I can slip them into my pocket and if I mess up too badly, I just remove the battery, cold boot, and restore from my backup. It takes no more than 10 minutes to recover from any command line mistake.

I have tried watching movies on them, but the data rate is too high at VCD resolution and data rates (354x240x30fps x PCMstereo = 1200 bps). I have tried 24 fps and dropping data rate to 600 bps, which helped a lot. But, the battery drains fast when watching movies. Maybe the computer needs a new battery, or maybe it is I who needs a charge. Oh, wait, that is why I purchased the Zaurii was because they gave me such a charge.

My lost loves (computers) are still with me, but some no longer function.
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