Oliver Knill

Zaurus Stuff

Oliver Knill
Harvard University
One Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138, USA
Department of Mathematics
Office:SciCen 434 (Cam)
Tel: (617) 495 5549
Email: @math

Office hours Summer 2007: Monday 15:30-16:00, and by appointment

  • Start: To unleash the power of Unix on the Zaurus, first grab the terminal and filemanager (it comes also on the CD) and install it. (This was the only time, where I needed windows with the Zaurus but I could have avoided it using a SD or CF memory card). For a linux user, the Zaurus is just an other linux box. Unlike for the Palm OS, you don't have to relearn things. For example, .ipk files are just tar.gz files. Example: the Boa webserver on Zaurus is the file boa_0.94.12_arm.ipk. Type "tar -xzf boa_0.94.12_arm.ipk" to reveal two .tar.gz files and open those to explore things.
  • Newbee stuff. The [cancel] button serves as [esc] (this good to know for "vi" users). Also good to know is [FN] + [SHIFT] = [CTRL]. For more key combinations, look here.
  • USB network. To setup USB network connection with Linux start here.
  • Telnet. Works as usual in Linux. Howtos to setup telnet and ftp can be found here. Since my Zaurus is not accessible from outside, I did initially not bother with ssh. On my Zaurus, I needed first to make an account for a user with the "adduser" command since telnet would not allow "root" access.
  • Ftp. To upload things fast, I use a shellscript "2zaurus": 'auto-upload1 -h zaurus -u root -w ?????? file' using a perl script "auto-upload1" (replace ?????? with your root password which you first have to set on the zaurus with "passwd root"). Like this, I can for example type "2zaurus perl_5.6.1-7_arm.ipk" to transfer Perl onto the Zaurus.
  • Software. There is already a huge amount of software available. Some of them, I downloaded from here like chess or the alarm clock. Others like openssh I got from the developer page.
  • Reading Texts. I prefer to read texts like from the gutenberg library, as text files (without converting them into an other ebook format). There is a reader which allows to put bookmarks.
  • Programming. Java applications compiled on the desktop will run on the Zaurus. For C programs a cross compiler is needed. I grabed it from the developer page. It is installed in a second with "for i in *.rpm; do rpm -i $i; done" on the linux desktop. The compiler will be located in the directory /opt/Embedix. Add a line "PATH=$PATH:/opt/Embedix/tools/bin" in the .bashrc file, then compile your C program as usual, replacing "gcc" with "arm-linux-gcc".
    [ For example, when I wanted "fortune" on the Zaurus, I grabbed the source from Debian, changed "gcc" in the Makefile with "arm-linux-gcc" and recompiled it. Note that you need to rerun "strfile" on each fortune cookie on the Zaurus and that the txt cookies as well as the .dat hash files want to be in /usr/local/share/games/fortunes by default. ]
    I also grabbed Python and Perl. One can program and use them on the zaurus as usual.
  • Memory. SD cards are nice for backups and also quite cheap (I got a 128M for 38 Dollars (30 cents per Meg)). I use the bigger compact flashcards mostly for media (MP3) or photos, especially together with the digital camera. (I'm very happy with the Canon S200).
  • Backups. The Zaurus produces backup files like "2003-03-20-12-35.backup" with a push of a button. These are just plain simple tar files. I store them compressed. The built in could be a bit larger (I have still the 5500 model): while I can read for example the Hobbit (508K) as a text file, I was not able to open LOR (2.8M) as a single text file within the Zaurus and needed to cut it into 3 books (as Tolkiens did).
  • ROM upgrades The ROM upgrade worked well for me when done on the Compact Flash card.
  • Wishlist.
    * When using the Zaurus as a MP3 player, carring in the pocket, the buttons are exposed and can be pushed accidentally. One should be able to lock them. A workaround sent to me by Christian Grothoff: enable a passcode/PIN, start the MP3 player, shut the unit down by holding the cancel button. After turning it back on but not entering the passcode, the mp3 player will be playing but the buttons will not work.
    * The IPAQ allows audio recording with one button. While one can program on the Zaurus one of the buttons to the voice recorder, the application does not start recording immediately. I miss a tiny loudspeaker to proofread recorded stuff or at least the possibility to have mic and headset attached simultaneously.
  • Keyboard
    keyboard The wireless keyboards works with the Zaurus however the shipped stand is for IPaq or Palm models does not fit the Z and one has to improvise a bit to have the infraread connection between Z and keyboard. To redirect the IR beam to the keyboard, use part of the the metal part of a floppy as a mirror. On the photo you see a test with alufoil as the mirro. The "rotate" tool to turn the screen in to landscape orientation would make the mirror obsolete. It did not work for me yet (rotating the screen would just reboot).