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> Zaurus Rom Zoo, But Where's A Vision?, A short discourse on a newbie's perception of Z community
walkman
post Oct 5 2007, 05:16 AM
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Hi again,
as a newbie and yet somebody who recently fell for Sharp Zaurus devices (I still have this euphoria when I look at the device), I was of course looking at various OS distributions for my Z gadget. I think I got a slight clue what is this all about, yet I do not feel that embedded in the Z community's box of thinking (at least not yet) so I can afford a bit detached perspective. I came to some thoughts which I would like to share with this community and get feedback on (as there are also practical aspects of and questions stemming from what you will read below).

Introduction
I perceive Zaurus as a PDA in the first place. On the second, it is a full-featured handheld computer. I think it was also meant that way by Sharp, and designed with this goal in mind (small screen, tiny keyboard, turnable clamshell design). Sharp also designed their original OS for Z in this vein.

In the course of my explorations, I found numerous *nix-based distributions for this device and of course got immediately lost as many others as well. The I started to get a bigger picture and I found that there's a ZOO of ROMs around, a lively community trying to help each other and obviously a huge mess in available applications for Z (different distros, different kernels, libraries, GUIs, WMs, etc.). That's all nice. But a persisting question in the back of my brain is still: What are the aims of these distros? Where do they go? I am asking such questions, because I would like to use my Zaurus in the first place. It was built to be used, wasn't it? I am prepared to spend some time configuring it, but in the end it is a consumer device supposed for a casual use by power users.


Distributions
Let me now briefly make an overview of what do various Zaurus distributions/ROMs claim in their own descriptions:

pdaXrom
QUOTE
... is a cross-platform Linux distribution with own build system. Its targets are PDA and embedded systems. pdaXrom uses X11 for GUI applications, hence greater versatility, improved portability and better performance.


OK. I see... So pdaXrom is focused on having ist own build system and integrated X11.


Angstrom
QUOTE
Ångström was started by a small group of people who worked on the OpenEmbedded, OpenZaurus and OpenSimpad projects to unify their effort to make a stable and userfriendly distribution for embedded devices like handhelds,set top boxes and network-attached storage devices and more.


Nice. Angstrom want's to speak to me - an average user. I am still to see more of this system as it was not released yet as I can guess from their web-site.

Actually the website is nice and teasing. But I have some doubts about a product marketed by a statement "...was started by a small group of people...". Actually I have no clue about what it is. No screenshots, better description, simply close to zero, nada. Well except for the wiki, where I can read a lot of technical stuff but can't find what this Angstrom is and when will I get it (if ever).


Cacko ROM
QUOTE
Cacko ROM is a localized English ROM based on Sharp Japanese ROM for Sharp Zaurus C7x0/C860/C1000/C3100/C3200 devices.


Clear, crisp and simple. Read: this is just localized and improved original image. And I know what that is quite well. Sharp told me.


OpenBSD
QUOTE
OpenBSD/zaurus is an effort to make OpenBSD run on several PDAs of the Sharp Zaurus family.

Alright. So for a description what this is, I'd better go to OpenBSD which says about itself the following:
QUOTE
The OpenBSD project produces a FREE, multi-platform 4.4BSD-based UNIX-like operating system.


I see now. So this is all about a UNIX system on the Zaurus device.



Titchy Linux

QUOTE
Titchy is a complete, fully-native Debian GNU/Linux distribution for the Sharp Zaurus...

Again, read: check Debian for what this is. And there we go:
QUOTE
Debian is a free operating system (OS) for your computer.


So this is a free operating system for my Zaurus.

Finally let me mention this one
Poky Linux
QUOTE
Poky is an embedded Linux build system, distribution and developer environment.


Hmmm, so no real OS for my gadget... But let's not give up that soon. Let's give it a one more try on Opened Hand who seem to be associated with it:
QUOTE
OpenedHand Limited creates, adapts and improves Unix and Linux based Open Source software for consumer facing mobile and embedded devices.


Ahaaa. So finally somebody who again cares about me, simple average user. I have still to check this system which looks very appealing to a PDA-experience seeking user.


Flesh
Now what I wanted to highlight by this is that except for Angstrom and Poky, which, judging by their websites, are still nowhere close to a end-user release, and Cacko ROM which goes in the direction sketched by Sharp, no(!) other distribution devotes itself to end-users! And even those which do, claim some abstract and unclear goals for their projects. At least it is not easily readable for me.

I would like to close my eyes and look 2-3 years into an ideal future where all the Z developers of this world have infinite amounts of time to spend on their hobbies. What I would like to see there is for each distribution a shiny picture showing its great features, its typical use-case and a well-specified group of happy users which share interests fully approached by the particular distribution.

But when I close my eyes now, with all my lame perception of this community, what I see is that I will be able to run driver allowing me to connect the keys of my Ferrari to my Zaurus and read all the data from it, I see that I will be able to run complete MacOS X in an emulator on my Zaurus and enjoy all its emulated beauties and eye candy. I see that Zaurus will allow me to connect directly to and remotely steer both my private jet and yacht and probably I would be able to use it as an advanced 3D scanner or as a smartphone. However the dialer application will be only command line. And if not all that, I am already able to run an Apache web-server with MySQL database underneath, on my Zaurus. That's certainly a practical combo, isn't it ph34r.gif ...

It seems to me that even though this community makes some confused steps towards making "something" out of Zaurus, it actually has only a little clue what that "something" means and how to get to it. I see this forum, on one side full of developers making leaps with the technical evolution of a whatever Z system w.r.t. HW and connectivity, and on the other filled with confused and frustrated users. And because of a lack of information, I do not see an end to it. From a purely lame point of view, I would immediately fall for Poky, just because it seems to go in the right direction and seems to have the nicest screen-shots smile.gif.


Conclusion
The screen of Zaurus is probably way too small to run Firefox, or KOrganizer (anyway, I will give it a try). The keyboard is useful and handy, but the main input devices remain the touch screen and the stylus. Porting yet another application from the big desktop does not make a lot of sense. Actually except for HW compatibility (which seems to be achieved quite well in 2.4 already) and speed (there seem to be mixed reports about this) I see only a little sense in having a bleeding edge OS kernel + clumsy applications ported from desktop and designed for a 19" screen sporting 3+key-shortcuts.

So can you guys tell me where is this all stuff, with mainly pdaXrom in mind, lead? I understand Titchy and OpenBSD to be technical platforms without a big drive towards Z (except for the ability to be installed and run). Angstrom is not out yet, so it's early to judge and I myself did not try it yet (and there's a lack of info on their web-site/wiki). Poky and all the stuff around Open-hand seems to produce one day something REALLY USEFUL. Cacko seems to be inactive for now. Obviously Meanie did a huge effort to push pdaXrom towards an end-user. But as I see, pdaXii13/v2 is merely an off-shoot of pdaXrom than the main line of development, isn't that right?

What I see is that the original Sharp distro went in a right direction. But it is technologically obsolete and lacks modern applications ported from the desktop Linux environments and one can't see any big movements on that front. On the other side I see a bunch of technologically great projects with a plethora of ported apps many of which make a great sense on Zaurus, but which unfortunately miserably fail on the end-user level (see e.g. my post from yesterday). And maybe one, or two which seem to go in a right direction, but are nowhere close to a usable release, not speaking about all the applications needed for them.

It seems to me that this Zaurus community needs guys with a mindset of people like Mark Shuttleworth to finally manage to get somewhere... And this O-Hand seems very promissing in this respect.

And now fry me!!! tongue.gif.





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koan
post Oct 5 2007, 05:39 AM
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So what is your point ?

Everything you say is well known by everyone who has been using the Zaurus for several years.

We all know that pdaXrom is still for hackers and that Sharp or Cacko ROMs are more suited for those people who want to just use PIM functionality.

I disagree that KOrganiser/KOPI is not usable at 640x480; I used it on my SL-5500 (320x240) for many years and it was very reasonable; I was happy with it.

Yes, it is true there is no broad agreement amongst Z developers to a unified goal. Can you expect people with vastly different visions to all sit down and agree where they disagree ?

Please, just enjoy the diversity that is the "Open Embedded" community and thank the hardware making gods that someone had the insight to make something as good as the Zaurus.

Edit: didn't mean to quote the whole original post.
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walkman
post Oct 5 2007, 06:02 AM
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QUOTE(koan @ Oct 5 2007, 03:39 PM) *
So what is your point ?


That there seems to be no point and no substance for existence under some distros. Unfortunately. As so much great effort goes in there. If the way I see it is correct as you suggest below.

QUOTE(koan @ Oct 5 2007, 03:39 PM) *
Everything you say is well known by everyone who has been using the Zaurus for several years.


So I wonder, why the status-quo remains and anyway so much effort is invested towards not very meaningful directions.

QUOTE(koan @ Oct 5 2007, 03:39 PM) *
I disagree that KOrganiser/KOPI is not usable at 640x480; I used it on my SL-5500 (320x240) for many years and it was very reasonable; I was happy with it.


That's nice to hear. smile.gif. I hope I will be able to live with it as well.

QUOTE(koan @ Oct 5 2007, 03:39 PM) *
Yes, it is true there is no broad agreement amongst Z developers to a unified goal. Can you expect people with vastly different visions to all sit down and agree where they disagree ?


Correct. But,
1) My post is exactly about those visions you mention. I do not see any. And I would like to find out about those. And this post is meant to be a teaser for you to tell me.
2) Given those visions exist. How can I not see all these efforts as a pure vaste of time if there's even an agreement, that no common ground can be set and no common vision can be followed? If that's so, to me it says loudly: "vaporware".

QUOTE(koan @ Oct 5 2007, 03:39 PM) *
Please, just enjoy the diversity that is the "Open Embedded" community and thank the hardware making gods that someone had the insight to make something as good as the Zaurus.


I certainly will. I am still to find whether this is only an intelligent brick, or I can manage myself to make something out of it. But I like the effort wink.gif.

Thanks for your reaction.
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jfv
post Oct 5 2007, 06:36 AM
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A lot of people here see the Zaurus as a learning tool/toy. Still, they have produced some amazing things which can be useful for all of us. I would like to see some more practical development, but it won't happen, since the Zaurus is essentially a dead platform. I hope to keep using it for a little while longer, while looking for a suitable replacement and I'll be playing with it for a long, long time. I discussed a couple of practical issues important to me in this thread:
http://www.oesf.org/forum/index.php?showto...mp;#entry167356
and concluded it'd stay with the Sharp ROM.
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Antikx
post Oct 5 2007, 06:39 AM
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Walkman... thanks for taking the time to post your thoughts.
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koan
post Oct 5 2007, 07:57 AM
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QUOTE(walkman @ Oct 5 2007, 06:02 AM) *
That there seems to be no point and no substance for existence under some distros. Unfortunately. As so much great effort goes in there. If the way I see it is correct as you suggest below.


There really aren't that many distributions so I don't know what you are talking about.

pdaXrom is there because they were first.

Debian is a popular distro so it's no surprise that many people wanted to replicate that on a Z.

Angstrom is, well, you've seen the web site. It's the follow up to OpenEmbedded. They want to be cutting edge, and, stuff.

QUOTE
So I wonder, why the status-quo remains and anyway so much effort is invested towards not very meaningful directions.


I don't think that's true. There has been very rapid development, thanks to a handful of very talented developers.

For example, pdaXrom team in general, pdaXii13, KO/PI, etc.

Those developers have lives outside Zaurus and so can't do everything.

What "not very meaningful" directions are you talking about ?

QUOTE
1) My post is exactly about those visions you mention. I do not see any. And I would like to find out about those. And this post is meant to be a teaser for you to tell me.


That's perfectly fine but you're not adding anything to the whole. Are you expecting the pdaXrom team to come online to justify their philosophy to you ?

QUOTE
2) Given those visions exist. How can I not see all these efforts as a pure vaste of time if there's even an agreement, that no common ground can be set and no common vision can be followed? If that's so, to me it says loudly: "vaporware".


Vaporware is something that never existed. All of these visions exist in some physical form so you are wrong. I think you meant something else but your language is inaccurate.

Why do these efforts have to have a common vision ? Some users want to use PIM, others want a dev environment and some just want access to GIMP or LaTeX using their PDA. Trying to force everyone to use the same system wouldn't make sense.


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walkman
post Oct 5 2007, 08:29 AM
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Let's keep this to the point as I would like to extract some information from you, if you allow me wink.gif. I am not going to react to catchy points, because I think I addressed them in the original post.

QUOTE(koan @ Oct 5 2007, 05:57 PM) *
I don't think that's true. There has been very rapid development, thanks to a handful of very talented developers.


That's very much what I found out as well. However radid development towards where? That's my point. As I said having all sorts of exotic goodies (driver to my ferrari, jet and yacht) is a lot of fun and makes sense if we say aloud that this is just a toy and nothing else. But I do have a feeling that this is meant to be "for real".

QUOTE(koan @ Oct 5 2007, 05:57 PM) *
Those developers have lives outside Zaurus and so can't do everything.


To be clear: I very much aplaud and appreciate a work of every single open-source programmer in this world. I am trying to do bits and pieces here and there as well. I am not trying here to troll or offend somebody.

QUOTE(koan @ Oct 5 2007, 05:57 PM) *
What "not very meaningful" directions are you talking about ?


No offence intended, rather I do personally not see a point in these: any flavour of Debian, OpenBSD. What do they add to user experience on Zaurus? They are fun to install and explore, cross-compile, or whatever. But that's it.

QUOTE(koan @ Oct 5 2007, 05:57 PM) *
That's perfectly fine but you're not adding anything to the whole. Are you expecting the pdaXrom team to come online to justify their philosophy to you ?


Kind of. But not to me personally. They do not have to care about funny guys as I am. They should think about their mission statement and then put it in such letters to the front-page of their website.

QUOTE(koan @ Oct 5 2007, 05:57 PM) *
Vaporware is something that never existed. All of these visions exist in some physical form so you are wrong. I think you meant something else but your language is inaccurate.


And here we are by the information I would like to extract from you, if you allow me. Can you please elaborate on mission statements of those you know about? Or are they just Linux distros with their own compile toolchain and X11 abilities.

And OK. If it makes you happier, you got me on vaporware wink.gif. I meant a software which evaporates and goes down the drain after it eventually came to existence. I think the word fits anyway...

QUOTE(koan @ Oct 5 2007, 05:57 PM) *
Why do these efforts have to have a common vision ? Some users want to use PIM, others want a dev environment and some just want access to GIMP or LaTeX using their PDA. Trying to force everyone to use the same system wouldn't make sense.


I am not trying here to say that ONE-4-ALL is a good way. Definitely not. I am even happy with the diversity there. What I am lacking is to see where each of those branches goes. Poky obviously goes for PDA experience. Let's say that OpenBSD and Debian go for whatever the standard desktop experience is (well, they have actually nothing too much to do as the experience is driven by applications available - so except for HW compatibility, there's nothing else). These are clear. So where is pdaXrom walking? pdaXii13 obviously is a step from whatever direction the mainstream follows towards user-friendliness. And because of lack of information I have no clue where is Angstrom walking either so I have to wait until it comes out.


Again. I am not trying to offend anybody here. I very much value the great efforts every member of this lively community put into development, testing and compiling and documentation and whatever else I forgot to mention now. I am only trying to point finger at some issues I spotted. If this community doesn't care it's fine with me. There are zillions of things I do not care about myself wink.gif. I only would like to learn something about how you guys see your own work. The context, the direction and the drive you have. And that all in order to be able to sort out for myself which distro to go for so that I can enjoy a long and sustainable future with my Zaurus. See the real point behind starting this thread revealed in its naked shame wink.gif.
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Chero
post Oct 5 2007, 11:58 AM
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Well,

I'm not going to follow the ongoing "discussions". There are a lot of threads in this forum about this subject.

Just want to tell you this : I am using my Z in real life, and there are a lot of users doing so. It all depends on what you want to do with it, what you need with you, what you are doing in real life. I think that's the main reason different ROMs exist : people making something "they" want to use in real life. They publish their work and we can benefit of it.

The things I need are :
- a decent spreadsheet (gnumeric)
- a portable database (portabase)
- an sms-app (gnokii)
- a calendar app (Ko/pi - dates)
- an addressbook (Ka/Pi - contacts)
- a mail-client (sylpheed)
- a fast image viewer (feh)
- a word processor (abiword)
- wifi - bluetooth
- something to copy piccies from my camera

I found them all in pdaXrom together with a gui I like and a very configurable system I can play with, so I use that most of the time.

Every ROM has people liking it the most and people will find all the apps I need in another ROM. But I have to like something first before I really use it, so ... .

So, I'd say : figure out what you need, see what rom has it and play.

Oh, where are the roms leading to : to the needs of the developers.

Just my 2 cents.
Chero.
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adf
post Oct 5 2007, 05:11 PM
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[What about this discussion doesn't sound like a new linux user just realizing that linux doesn't tell you what to do?

I use both Z's the 6000 stays on a cradle on my nightstand for convenience; the 3100 travels

what do you want to do with yoyr z? figure that out; then find the software that does it...then worry about the OS
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scottlfa
post Oct 5 2007, 05:53 PM
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I agree with Chero. The devices use's depend on your needs. I have a PDA Phone that does my basic PDA needs. As an IT though I find the portability of the Z and Flexibility of pdaxii13 rom very useful to my needs. Very few devices in my price range can do this and still fit in my pocket.
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koan
post Oct 5 2007, 11:05 PM
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@walkman,

You are not doing a very good job of identifying the issues you are trying to raise. If you have a proposal then make it. I'm sure people here would listen.

You say that there is "no point to Debian" and you are confused about the vision of the developers of the various ROMs: is there any Linux distribution that has a clear vision ? What about Fedora, Ubuntu or SUSE ? What is the difference between their core values ? I think this is the "Linux way". You take the distribution you like most and add packages and customise it.

You (obliquely) raise a good point: there is no news, no interviews or features about the Z and recent developments. I just come to the forums and check "view new posts". We used to have mickeyl's newsletter on OpenZaurus then OpenEmbedded. No one seems to be updating the ZUG page. I think we need a "news team" to go through the forums and highlight interesting points on the ZUG front page. Also, they could interview various developers to find out what they are doing. We need some people to volunteer their time though...

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walkman
post Oct 7 2007, 09:11 AM
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@koan:
thanks for your response. Let me briefly react:

QUOTE(koan @ Oct 6 2007, 09:05 AM) *
You are not doing a very good job of identifying the issues you are trying to raise. If you have a proposal then make it. I'm sure people here would listen.


That's correct. I will respond to this later.

QUOTE(koan @ Oct 6 2007, 09:05 AM) *
You say that there is "no point to Debian" and you are confused about the vision of the developers of the various ROMs: is there any Linux distribution that has a clear vision ? What about Fedora, Ubuntu or SUSE ? What is the difference between their core values ? I think this is the "Linux way". You take the distribution you like most and add packages and customise it.


This was a very valid point. So let's check their websites:

Ubuntu
QUOTE

and later:
QUOTE


Gentoo
QUOTE


Fedora
QUOTE

and later
QUOTE


Conclusion:
I think the above quoted descriptions and mission statements try to clearly specify what they are about. What I personally like is what Gentoo says. That's perfectly clear and very well highlighted. Ubuntu is not that straightfoward as it could be. I guess it is because they started to grow recently and they have all sorts of these subprojects (Desktop, Server, Mobile, etc.) so on their front-page you only read about being free (which is nowadays not a very distinguishable feature).

But you are right to a certain extent. Also big Linux distros obviously often do not stand up to high expectations of an interested user trying to choose what to install on his computer.

QUOTE(koan @ Oct 6 2007, 09:05 AM) *
You (obliquely) raise a good point: there is no news, no interviews or features about the Z and recent developments. I just come to the forums and check "view new posts". We used to have mickeyl's newsletter on OpenZaurus then OpenEmbedded. No one seems to be updating the ZUG page. I think we need a "news team" to go through the forums and highlight interesting points on the ZUG front page. Also, they could interview various developers to find out what they are doing. We need some people to volunteer their time though...


This would certainly help. And what would be really great, is to somewhere document why is the concrete distribution better than the others, how it differs from the others and what are the highlights of it. That's what this thread was supposed to be about. I do not mean a comparative document. But rather statement on the front-page of the distro web-site. Basically a teaser and highlight why anybody looking at the website should consider that piece of software usefu and worth consideringl.
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Antikx
post Oct 7 2007, 10:12 AM
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QUOTE(koan @ Oct 6 2007, 02:05 AM) *
You (obliquely) raise a good point: there is no news, no interviews or features about the Z and recent developments. I just come to the forums and check "view new posts". We used to have mickeyl's newsletter on OpenZaurus then OpenEmbedded. No one seems to be updating the ZUG page. I think we need a "news team" to go through the forums and highlight interesting points on the ZUG front page. Also, they could interview various developers to find out what they are doing. We need some people to volunteer their time though...

I did an interview with InSearchOf and the LUGradio guys did an interview with Mickey.
For the last two years tyrannozaurus has tried to skim the news bits and post them, but I'm busy in the summer and now with a newborn, I have less time.

Most of us are trying to do our part to add to the community, but it's a small community, no one is getting paid to do this full time and many of us have busy personal lives. It's not an excuse for things not being better, it's just the reality of it. A team efforts would make a lot of sense, but it's hard to have a team function when it's spread out over the internet.

As my boss likes to tell me, if you see a problem, own the problem.

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walkman
post Oct 7 2007, 10:34 AM
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Hello,
in the first place, let me thank to all those who bothered to respond in this thread. It gave me some inspirations and ideas. I will try to write about those later (possibly another reply in this thread). What I do expect from this thread now, is to boost my understanding of all the technology and software development around Linux-based handheld devices in general with special focus on Zaurus.

There was a very valid point raised by koan:
QUOTE
You are not doing a very good job of identifying the issues you are trying to raise. If you have a proposal then make it. I'm sure people here would listen.


Koan, you are right. In the following, I would like to approach your challenge with a more constructive bunch of thoughts. I basically started to think about what do I expect from my experience with a perfect handheld, also based on what I experienced with other distributions and what I know from my experience with other PDA systems. I tried to put together a hypothetical "manifest" of what could be something I would consider useful. I will try to proceed in an iterative manner from some fundamental principles to more and more technical details of some of those issues. Finally I will conclude with a brief feasibility analysis.


Handheld Personal Computer
Handheld Personal Computer (HPC) is a Linux-based GUI customization package for Sharp Zaurus devices. It blends PDA and ultra-mobile laptop user experiences into a single, consistent GUI.

Fundamental principles
  1. HPC exploits features and respects constraints of the Sharp Zaurus platform with special focus on SL series.
  2. HPC is a power-user centric interface
  3. HPC is a durable and sustainable in the long term w.r.t. development for Zaurus platform
  4. HPC features a lightweight deployment
Here a power-user is somebody who can RTFM and STFW and is used to use Linux as a desktop box.

General characteristics
HPC should be a lightweight customization package + a set of carefuly chosen pre-installed and customized applications over a chosen X11 WM. It should be WM/desktop centered, i.e. deployable on any platform where the chosen WM/desktop can be deployed. It should feature mainly Z-specific key-bindings and various customizations of the window manager and desktop plus a optional customization of a small set of support application/tools improving the user-experience.

It should operate in 2 basic modes:
  • PDA mode
  • laptop mode
In the laptop mode, Zaurus' main input device is the keyboard. This mode does not differ much from a usual desktop computer mode of operation, i.e. exploitation of various keyboard shortcuts stands in the front of user experience. User should use stylus to operate the Zaurus device as rarely as possible.

In the PDA mode, everything should be operable using the touch-screen and stylus. However as some applications are not built with PDA use in mind, it should make it possible to also operate such applications.

Getting more technical
In the following I will focus mainly on the PDA mode as I feel this is currently under-developed mode in distributions like pdaXrom.

GUI
  • space, space, space - all unneccessary stuff should be hidden, or removed. That means e.g. compact window decorations, hidable panels, and alike. However, anything hidden what might be useful should possible to open using either a stroke, or tap on some token (corner?, silk-screen?)
  • make efficient use of the small screen. That means probably running all applications in a maximized windows. Except for dialogs of course. However, I do think a stabdard desktop-mode makes a lot of sense, therefore this should be run-time switchable by e.g. an applet in the panel
  • in order to reach controls in oversized dialogs, some sort of scrolling the whole screen would make sense.
  • integrated hand-writing recognition and an on-screen keyboard.
  • list all active tasks+windows switching in some form should be easily accesible (collapsed list, or a Windows-taskbar like behaviour, or ...)
  • make use of sillkscreen and mouse/stylus gestures
  • way to access the bottom-most desktop should be quickly available
  • desktop should feature PDA-like navigation in groups of applications/user-specified shortcuts/scripts and alike, of course with customizable icon. It would be nice to have a small tool supporting creation and categorization of such shortcuts on the desktop.
  • GUI should support multiple desktops and an easy switching between them
  • date and time should be displayed on an easily accessible place, e.g. in the panel, or directly on the desktop
  • having applets integrated into the desktop would be an interesting feature (system monitor, time, etc.)
  • HW monitor summary (battery, CPU, memory) should be easily accessible
How to get there:
From what I know, matchbox-wm and other matchbox-* applications are a good starting point. A lot of what I mentioned is already there, some things are not supported and have to be solved.

Connectivity
Obviously WLAN is a big issue on Zaurus. The experience has to be improved.
  • a working and highly-configurable tool for WiFi connectivity.
  • a lightweight, but full-featured web-browser
  • e-mail is probably a very user-specific issue...
Bluetooth and IrDA ommited. I do not know how important these issues are and whether it is worth trying to solve them in general.

How to get there:
Wifi-radar is a good basis. As the whole concept is power-user centric, a first shot might be a configuration dialog app for all the wpa-supplicant + DHCP + PCMCIA/cardctl options. It shouldn't be idiot-proof, but should work in a transparent manner, i.e. it can produce shell scripts for connecting/disconnecting specific networks and allow a user to customize/edit them and then control their launching/killing.

Possibly, the tool should feature community-provided default configurations, or templates for different cards and configs. For example Prism 2 based cards (the tool can even provide a list of those) with WPA/PSK authentication with a WEP key is a good candidate for such a template.

A good candidate for a browser would be something Gecko, or WebKit based browser with cookies and SSL. For example Galeon... And of course Links as an extremely-lightweight browser should be preinstalled.

Misc
Multimedia and other application areas are probably a matter of choice for each user. Possibly one could think about pre-installed media apps. But that's not that important for a basic user experience with the device.

I also can imagine that behaviour of the GUI significantly and automagically changes between PDA mode and laptop mode. For example maximizing the windows by default makes a lot of sense in the PDA mode, while it is less desirable in the laptop mode. And more such can be probably found.


Feasibility
I have a feeling that a lot can be achieved by style of work which Meanie is doing with pdaXii*. I mean probably re-packaging those features into an ipkg package with a bunch of install scripts so that the whole package can be installed from a feed over any future pdaXrom release. As I think the whole solution is just a customization of a desktop environment, it could be easily portable to other distributions as well.

I also have a feeling that OPIE/GPE approach a similar problem. However, it seems to me that they go a more heavyweight path, i.e. tighter integration with applications.


From what I wrote above, it seems to me that most of the stuff goes in direction of customizing key maps, preconfiguring applications etc. There are few problematic points:
  • Window manager - matchbox seems to be a good start. However AFAIK it does not allow switching the maximized and desktop modes.
  • Desktop - matchbox-desktop might be a good start, but I am not sure about all the considerations which have to be done. And obviously majority of people seem to lean more to IceWM
  • WiFi tool - has to be programmed. Not from scratch, but a significant piece of work has to be done.
Later EDIT:
It seems that Poky's Sato interface addresses some of the issues raised above. I did not study it, nor have I clue whether it is portable...
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scottlfa
post Oct 7 2007, 12:47 PM
Post #15





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Z's Distro's follow the same general method of development that the Desktop versions do.

QTopia & Cacko are aimed at maintaining the "PDA" nature of the Zaurus.

OpenZaurus aims at the people in the middle ground between being a PDA and a Mini-Laptop.

PdaXrom (PdaXii13) is aimed at making the Z as close to a micro laptop as possible.

Debian is a desktop OS, so porting it to the Z means the Z would be a micro Laptop running a standard main stream distribution of linux. From what I have seem this is hard to setup, as normal Debian can be.

How each maintaner of these distro's describes there OS's is entirely up to them, maybe they spend more time on the OS development and less on there info pages? Anyhows ...

When I got my Z last week, the first thing I did while waiting for it too arrive was google sl-1000 and linux. That landed me here and the rest was easy enough to sort out. So as a newbie myself I am not sure why things were so confusing?

I think its awesome that these people are around and have made such software available for those of us who don't just want a PDA. Thanks all of you who code and contribute smile.gif

Btw - the reason there are so many flavors of Linux (including with the Z') is because groups of people get together and make the distributions that fits there needs, then other adopt and tweak it to there needs. Redhat (Fedora) fits more of a company view, Mandrake is tailored towards out of the box installs, Debian is a for the user who wants to hand setup every aspect of there linux box etc ...

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