In kernel 2.16 and newer, if a USB device requires too much power, it is not enabled. 'dmesg' output might look like:
usb 1-2: no configuration chosen from 1 choice
To find out how much power a USB device wants, one can invoke:
lsusb -v | grep MaxPower
My card reader wants up to 250 mA, and my USB to serial converter says it might use up to 500 mA!
Post #3 on this ubuntu forum thread describes a work-around.
So my question is, is it safe to do this? [Also, I assume that people who are using kernels before 2.16 could well ask the same question, even if the device isn't automatically disabled.] Are the manufacturers of these USB products giving a high margin of error? Can a high-current device damage a Zaurus, or will it simply shorten battery life or just plain not work?
[Edit]. PS. Does it make any difference if the Z is plugged in or not?