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Old 05-01-2003, 10:02 AM   #1
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Sharp Zaurus

Well I did it. I will soon be the proud owner of a Sharp Zaurus 5500 PDA. It is slick. I found mine on ebay, but I played with my friends, which is what made me decide to get it.

This thing has a color screen, and of course runs Linux. I will be downloading software for it, and even some new ROM's. And this thing can do almost anything.

It can compile and run mplayer, divx (now to convert DVD to divx and store them on CF cards), mp3 and ogg files, wireless networking, color touch screen, dual card slots, integrated keyboard, and many apps.

And talk about power. This is a machine someone ran a web server off of. Aparantly this guy hooked a wireless network, set this little Zaurus for serving, and used an SD card for his site data. Pretty impressive if yyou ask me.

Anyway, I am not really sure what I will use it for other than tinkering around.

Anyone have any ideas?
Old 05-01-2003, 10:13 AM   #2
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I recently got one of those too. I still have no clue what to use it for, but it is sweet! I played around with the regular OS for a while (which uses Qtopia), before deciding to try OpenZaurus, which is pretty nice, and has a lot more flexibility as far as memory configuration and whatnot goes.

And yeah, you can get web, ftp, ssh servers for it, firewalls, a whole ton of Python programming-related stuff, there's a version of gcc for it, Vim, Konqueror, and lots more. It is pretty ridiculous If you get some kind of wireless internet card for it, you could walk around with a web server in your pocket, protected of course by the firewall!

I've used it a teeny bit for the calendar (reminding me of meetings and such), and it makes a nice car MP3 player (although, I already *have* a car mp3 player which was much cheaper!). Games are fun. I think my favorite thing about it is that it's a PDA with a command-line interface. How geeky is that? It's Unix in your Pocket.

After much tinkering, I was even able to set up IP masquerading on my home network. I plug the Zaurus into its cradle, and bam! I'm on the internet. Of course it's silly to browse the internet from a 3.5" screen when I have a 19" monitor sitting right next to it, but still... It makes it much easier to install new software, at least.


Last edited by wapcaplet; 05-01-2003 at 10:15 AM.
Old 05-01-2003, 10:15 AM   #3
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I recently managed to persuade my mum to get one of these as well. They are so unbelievably cool!!!!!

She uses hers for the usual PIM applications but also for when she is in the rare books room of the Uni Library (you can't take books out of here) or at a Public Records office to make notes on. You can get a pretty close to full size keyboard which rolls/folds up to fit in a bag or something. It is just so versatile. You'll need ear phones for sound output (obviously) and if you get a microphone to plug into it you could use it as a dictaphone style thing.

Another cool thing is due to the two types of cards it supports many digital camera cards can just be stuck into it. Take a load of photos, shove the card in, and you then can look/edit/email/send over network.

Make sure you install the terminal app from the cd.


P.S. Did i mention this thing is just downright cool?
Old 05-01-2003, 10:20 AM   #4
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Originally posted by webtoe
You'll need ear phones for sound output (obviously) and if you get a microphone to plug into it you could use it as a dictaphone style thing.
Actually, normal headphones can function as a microphone too. Microphones and headphones work on basically the same principle. Quality might not be as great, but it's not like you'll be recording concert bootlegs with it... or will you?

Another cool thing is due to the two types of cards it supports many digital camera cards can just be stuck into it. Take a load of photos, shove the card in, and you then can look/edit/email/send over network.
Yeah, the two memory card slots is one of the main things that sold me on this. With OpenZaurus (maybe with the regular OS too, not sure), you can install your software anywhere you want, so I use my SD card more or less permanently to install programs onto (thus freeing up my RAM for running them), and the CF for storage. I never realized how tiny these SD cards are! Can't believe they crammed 128 million bytes onto a device no bigger than my thumbnail...

Last edited by wapcaplet; 05-01-2003 at 10:21 AM.
Old 05-09-2003, 01:20 AM   #5
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Zaurus incoming

I recently purchased my Zaurus 5500 online and a large group of accessories. So, what do I plan to use my Zaurus for?

1. Network protocol analyzer - I bought the 10/100 network adapter for it and plan to have a couple of useful network analyzing tools on it. I bought a Fluke network monitor, but is just for physical cable checking mostly... this will allow some serious protocol debugging.

2. Switch/Router programmer - I hate having to drag a system over to get the initial set-up going on routers and switches. Even a laptop isn't that useful when you need to wire everything up and sit back behind the racks for a little while... so I bought the wireless RS-232 module. I just plug the tiny module to the back of the switch/router and I can sit a few feet in front watching traffic and programming.

3. Documentation notepad - With a half way decent keyboard built in and some office-like products available, I can document my work as I go. Alot of help instead of having to carry around a clipboard and then detail issues I am working on in my full report later.

4. Gameboy Ultra - There are alot of emulators (ScummVM, MAME, UAE, GnuBoy, etc) and native linux games out there. I should be able to keep entertained with this thing for roughly 5 years straight if the batteries hold up Of course, I purchased a portable power source/charger that goes for the Z as well.

5. Walkman - With the upgraded xmms that you can get for the Z, I will be able to take some tunes on the road with me. Uses a fair amount of memory though, so I bought the 512MB CF card too.

6. TV - The screen is 320x240 (or 240x320 if you view it that way). This is about the quality/resolution of standard boob-tube signal so I can tape shows and junk to take with me on the road. Another reason for the 512MB CF

7. File storage - Being able to carry reference documents with me as I work and play will make this almost worth the money on its own. I bought a 256MB SD card for documents and home directory info too.

Overall, I have quite a few things I plan to use this for. Yes, this is going to be a tool and entertainment device. Very much a worthwhile purchase if you compare the cost versus dedicated devices for these tasks (like the Fluke Network Protocol monitor). These are the main ones that came to the top of my head. I *almost* bought the 5600 just for the extra processing power, and if this things proves to be even more used than I anticipate, I may just upgrade later to the 5600.

Last edited by bobtmasse; 05-09-2003 at 01:25 AM.
Old 05-11-2003, 06:11 PM   #6
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This is all good to hear, I think I'm gonna purchase one this summer with my sweat. And from my somewhat less sophisticated standpoint, the coolest thing is gonna be playing Chronotrigger in my hands with the ported Snes9x emulator!
Old 07-14-2003, 11:38 AM   #7
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Can anyone point me to a site that describes how to set up the zaurus to sync with Linux. I have been to trolltech and tried their way only to end up stumped in dependency hell. :-(
Old 10-27-2003, 05:30 PM   #8
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- All of the posts are below for reference. Nice.
- bobtmasse is doing more with a Z than I've ever seen. Go Bob!
- I just got MySQL running on my Z. I've been casting about for O.Source front-ends for it so I can start building something to replace the heinously pathetic PIM "apps" it ships with. TKC's stuff is better, but that's just not saying much, and they're not doing much to boot. Nothing is even integrated! But the fact that MySQL fits on this thing is just amazing. I've read posts where someone ran this an Apache on his Z and just did everything using a web interface. Interesting solution, but it seems like that would be rather slow. I'm thinking Java, but unless that's well written it's not just a speed deamon itself. (shrug) Time will tell. Maybe I'll get off my ever-expanding arse and set up that cross-compiler on the Linux box?
- Memory isn't an issue on the 5500. I made an 8MB swap file in main RAM and I've *never* had memory problems since. It does forget it has a swap file if it's rebooted after a crash, but that's easily fixed using a script. I mean, it's not *using* the swap at boot time.
- Application space isn't a concern, either. I've no idea what this "SDIO" thing is, but I just install apps to internal, then copy them over to the 256MB SD and soft link the directories. NetHack is the only thing I've run across that doesn't seem to like me doing this. (pout) I've got some pretty big stuff loaded, MySQL, kismet, literally dozens of apps, and I've got 7MB of main storage left for Opera's cache. Awesome!
- I'd strongly advise against swap on a flash card. First, flash cards are painfully slow compared to the internal static memory. Second, I've *heard* (but not verified) that flash is only good for about a thousand writes, then it breaks. It takes a LONG time to save a text document 1000 times, but swap and/or cache could conceivably do that in an astonishingly short time. Better to offload, soft link, and put your swap in static RAM.
- The 5600 has a very SERIOUS problem. Only 32MB of RAM, instead of 64 in the 5500, so you have half as much exectution memory, and half as much internal storage. To rub salt in this wound, the 5600 uses a "nvram" that A) makes *all* the memory non-volatile and B) EXCLUDES SWAP USAGE. Ouwwchhh!!! Without swap this guy wouldn't be half as useful ... I wouldn't be able to run eight apps simultaneously! (owlish stare)
- Wifi is *so* simple with a Z. CAVEAT: The uber-cheap DLink Wifi is a dice roll ... I got one for a song and it consistently crashed my Z ... pop the *battery* to get it back ... proved the backup util is GOLDEN. (happy smile) Others have no trouble with them at all, and they are *dirt* cheap. Got a Linksys ... NO troubles. Learning MySQL during commercials. (heh heh) BUT when the DLink worked, kismet would stay active with it for as long as I wanted. The Linsys "times out" and shuts down the CF if it doesn't detect Wifi traffic, and kismet has to be restarted. Beat!
- Read an article on the Sharp SL-6000 today. Big, but stats more like the C760 in the normal Z hidden-keyboard format, produced for the *US* instead of a reverse-engineering Asian unit. Looks impressive ... if I had a brain I'd have bookmarked it so I could paste it here. (uncontrolled drooling) Quick list: built-in Wifi & Bluetooth, USB host controller, full VGA touch screen, SD & CF slots, 1500Mah battery, 64MB ROM, maybe 128MB RAM (fingers crossed), microphone, speaker, native landscape rotation. Slated for release in January '04. Time to start saving pennies.
- Think I'm out of steam for now...


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