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51 years old
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Born July-3-1966
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My Content
4 Aug 2006
I'm trying to get my zkbdd IR keyboard drivers working on OZ but I'm not having much luck with the IR port. It seems that the 2.6 kernel uses a different set of drivers for IRDA than 2.4 so I'm not entirely sure how all of the pieces fit together. For most keyboards, I need to get the port in SIR mode communicating through a tty device. So far I've tried /dev/ttyS[0-1] and /dev/ircomm[0-1] and though I can open the devices, I'm not seeing any of the IR data.

Before I go down the path of instrumenting all the drivers, I figure I should check and see if anyone has actually seen IR work on a C7xx running
12 Oct 2005
An "alpha" release of my new IR keyboard drivers for pdaXrom RC11 is now available! Supported keyboards are Belkin F8U1500-T and Pocketop. Possibly supported keyboards (the code is in there but I can't test it) are Targus and Palm IR keyboards.

This is a C7x0/C860 release only! Versions for other Zaurii will follow, but I want to make sure there's no serious breakage on the platform I can test on before I release for platforms I can't.

Disclaimer: this software has only been tested on one single Zaurus in the entire known universe. There are many things that could go wrong. If this software breaks your Zaurus, you get to keep all the pieces. Backup, backup, backup, backup!

Installation is pretty simple:

* Backup, backup, backup!

* Install the kernel-modules-input and zkbdd IPKs from my feed at http://kopsisengineering.com/rc11/Zaurus-7x0-860/feed/

* From an Aterm or the console do a "modprobe keybdev" and "modprobe uinput"

* From an Aterm or the console do an "lsmod" and make sure input, keybdev, and uinput modules are listed

* From an Aterm or the console run "zkbdd -h" to get the help page for launching the driver. The general form of the command is "zkbdd -t kbtype".

* Launch the driver (eg. "zkbdd -t pocketop &")

* Start typing on the keyboard smile.gif

* Post your results here -- good or bad
6 Oct 2005
If I'm to stay with pdaXrom, it absolutely must let me use my Belkin IR keyboard with my C760! So I recently hacked up pdaXrom's virtual keyboard applet (Xvkbd) to give me that capability. It worked surprisingly well and got me through a business trip, but it isn't the perfect solution. The weaknesses of the Xvkbd approach are:

* Only works in X (doesn't work in console mode before you "startx" or after you exit X11).
* Has some performance issues (pegs CPU usage at 100% and is still sluggish in some apps).
* Not easy to add support for different IR keyboard types.

Since my return I've been looking at "kbdd" from Handhelds.org which is a user space keyboard driver that sends keystrokes directly to the Linux kernel. It was designed for the iPaq (which has no built in keyboard) so it will take some work to adapt it to the Zaurus. It addresses all three of the Xvkbd issues above, but it does introduces a couple new ones:

* No GUI app to activate/control the driver (easy enough to create but don't expect it in my first release).
* Built-in Zaurus keyboard won't work right when IR KB driver is running (this is the biggest issue).

My initial thinking is that despite those limitations Kbdd is still the right approach, but I'd like to get feedback from other IR keyboard users before I spend a bunch of time coding up my solution. I'd like my work to benefit the pdaXrom community so if you're an IR keyboard user and one approach or the other would result in something you couldn't use, here's your chance to let me know smile.gif

Also, if you'd like to see support for a particular IR keyboard, feel free to reply with make and model. No guarantees, but I'll do what I can (short of buying new keyboards).
18 Jul 2005
From some of the discussion in the General topics, it's become clear that getting the Zaurus SDK up and running is a stumbling block for aspiring Zaurus developers. In an effort to lower the bar, I've created an entire development environment (based on Damn Small Linux) that has the toolchain and SDK pre-installed in a complete lightweight Linux distro and ready to run.

I've written an article that details the advantages of this approach along with download and installation instructions. You can find the article at

I had initially hoped that this solution would be radically simpler than the tool installation itself. I'm not entirely certain that I've succeeded in that. I may just be pushing the complexity into a different area (getting Damn Small Linux and possibly QEMU running) so I'm very interested in getting feedback from anyone who tries my approach.

Note that these tools are for Sharp ROM development only. They will definitely not work for OpenZaurus, and I suspect they won't work for pdaXrom either. If this approach proves to be sufficiently easy for people, then I may try to set up similar DSL based environments for those systems.

Good luck!
7 Jul 2005
There's been a good deal of discussion lately regarding barriers to Zaurus software development. One of the issues seems to be the difficulty of setting up a cross-development environment.

I have a QEMU disk image that features a minimal Linux install plus the Sharp ROM compatible cross development toolchain and I'm wondering if it would be worth the effort to clean it up and release it.

There is (or at least was) already a Live CD that had the x-devel tools, but rebooting every time you want to hack a little code is mighty inconvenient and that still leaves Mac users high and dry. QEMU is a full x86 PC emulator that can run on Linux, Windows, and the Mac. It allows you to run a complete virtual Linux machine in a window on your desktop right along with all your other apps. It's a good deal slower than native execution (about 10 - 15X) but I've found it more than adequate for building Zaurus apps.

Though I still advocate the use of higher level languages like Python and Ruby for Zaurus app development, there are a variety of reasons for folks to want to develop in C/C++. This wouldn't help with the C/C++/Linux/Qtopia learning curve, but at least folks wouldn't have to struggle with tools. How about it? Would this be a big help or are there still too many barriers to development for this to make a difference?
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