The world of PDAs

[ from the please-stop-going-on-about-them-now-jcm dept. ]

opieplayer2 is now playing: A-Ha – Headlines And Deadlines – The Sun Always Shines On TV (ogg vorbis)

I got offered a deal through a member of a linux mailing list and ended up with a Sharp Zaurus SL-5500 and a Compaq iPAQ 3660. The Compaq is still Microsoft infected although the antivirus magic will be weaved over that sometime in the next few days. The Zaurus now joins the many others running Open Zaurus. It really was disgusting how Microsoftish Sharp had made it out of the box.

There were a few problems installing Open Zaurus due to the fact that installation requires hitting a magic button combination with a preprogrammed CompactFlash in the slot with appropriate file names. It turns out that the 128MB CompactFlash – made by Integral memory who are really rebadging SanDISK technology and selling it through outlets like Photo Optix – has a faulty bits which results in it being effectively useless to most people. After more than 4 hours of experimentation with badblocks and mkfs.vfat I created a 32MB loopback mounted volume which I copied the kernel too and then filled with enough zeros to skip the faulty part – taking advantage of how vfat works using one giant linked list across the whole of the disk – then the next file. I got it right eventually and then repeatedly ran dd to try to get it on to the /dev/hde1 appropriately configured partition which to my amazement then proceeded to work. Today I shall have to try to return this memory and get some which actually works but there is a lesson to everyone – run badblocks on CompactFlash.

I have a 128MB SD Card and will get another 128MB CompactFlash card as well as a CompactFlash Wifi networking card for kismet and internet access. Probably should eventually get some ludicrously large SD or CF storage of more than 256MB though I think I will wait for reasonable pricing. Listening to music requires headphones although that is a good thing because I do not necessarily want to inflict my tastes upon others.

I had to modify several hotplug configuration files as well as the kernel maps for the USBified networking to come up and occasionally get host kernel hard lock annoyances when the interface does not go down cleanly. This I might try to fix since the last kernel hack I suggested had just recently been done by someone else! bah. I suggested writing an interface to call Magic SysRQ through software in /proc/sys and it turns out this can now be done via sending the key sequence to /proc/sysrq-trigger. I hope it is documented well for all the Sysadmins out there. :-) .

The Zaurus is sweet. I can now login to it over usb and have proxy host NAT running to allow Internet access for ipkg to do package updates and to surf the web or simply ping google and yahoo. Did I mention it also plays A-Ha – Take On Me (Superior Techno Remix)? because it really does. :-) .

I need to make a whole bunch of stuff and get a Man Area Network going between the two devices in my pockets for sheer amusement. Actually I bought a 7something quid camera bag from John Lewis as a cheap Zaurus bag.


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