Yenya's World

Thu, 10 Jan 2008

From PalmOS to Maemo

After Vlasta has left, I have got his Nokia 770 to play with. I am even thinking about replacing my Palm T5 with it eventually, as the synchronization with my desktop has ceased to work in the last few months (the Palm is not visible as an USB device anymore except when in the Drive mode). So far my experience is mixed:

The good thing is that it is has a real OS (Linux). Things like xterm, openssh, screen etc. work, as well as reading plain text files, etc. It also has WiFi and a real WWW browser.

Unlike PalmOS, it has two power-saving modes: in one it has the display and keyboard switched off, but the OS is working. This mode can be entered or left almost instantly. However, in this mode, the battery lasts only for two days or so, even when not doing anything with the device. The other mode is full Linux shutdown, but this takes about 20 seconds to boot the device again.

It is slow. The apps start much longer than in PalmOS. However, it is a true multitasking OS, so the audio playback works even when another CPU-intensive task is running.

It has a RS-MMC slot, which supports 1 GB cards only (2 GB with firmware upgrade), but the device itself has only a 64 MB card, while my Palm has 2 GB SD-card). I use my Palm as an audio player as well, so the available filesystem space is important.

It has a huge repository of software at However, the system userland is not nice - they have several versions of the system image (OS 2005, OS 2006, OS 2007, etc.), and only 2005 and 2006 versions are production-stable on 770. Some apps work only on later systems.

I miss some PalmOS apps, especially PAdict (an excellent Japanese dictionary), and AutoBase (a vehicle usage tracking database). Fortunately, there seems to be a closed-source PalmOS virtual environment for Maemo, which I want to try.

I have yet to find a good PIM application suite with working and easy to use desktop counterpart (as jpilot was for PalmOS PIM). I ahso have to find out how to export the existing PIM data from PalmOS and import it to Maemo.

Overall I think n770 is not a bad device, but has a slightly different purpose than Palm. I will probably try to buy a 2 GB flash card and replace the T5 with it.

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