Linux on your PDA
Okay, so you wouldn’t necessarily class installing Linux on your PDA as an upgrade. But if you have an old Windows Mobile device you haven’t used in
ages because the operating system was so appallingly awful, you might think otherwise.
The process isn’t particularly difficult, but gleaning all the required information from the various web pages and download areas can be tricky, and the exact process depends on which model you have. The best place to start is www.handhelds.org. Compaq iPAQs are the preferred range of PDA for the handheld Linux community, but we managed to get it working – mostly – on a Dell Axim X3, circa 2004.
As with Rockbox, the process is non-destructive for the Axim model we tried, and you can drop back to Windows Mobile anytime. The basic process is simple – just download a few files including a launcher application called Haret, pop them on to an SD card, and browse to the card using Windows Mobile’s File Explorer. Launch the Haret application and it will then allow you to boot the Linux kernel you’ve put on the card. And hey presto, you’re running Linux on the device.
The only problem is that because of the specialised hardware of PDAs, Linux on a handheld tends to be a lot less useful than Linux on a desktop PC. Things such as touchscreens, wireless access, power management and backlight control tend to be flakey, as does audio. But if nothing else, it’s fun to see the penguin logo on a PDA.
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