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Hmm... After using an iPaq for a while, I'm getting quite a list of things which need to be worked on.

I recently got a Zaurus SL5500 which I use instead of the ipaq, so I'll put comments about it here too.

On my desktop PC, I hardly ever use the mouse. I have at least a dozen terminals open at any time, and I love emacs. The keyboard is my friend. I hate icons, though tasteful eye candy (Enlightenment) is okay. I hate gooey (GUI) programs.

But on the iPaq, it's a different story. It's a PDA. It's not a notebook computer, or a desktop. It's a PDA. Interacting with it through an xterm is not a feasible option. It needs a lot of work to make it act like a PDA instead of a unix shell.

  • Needs an outliner / todo list / project management tool. I'm working on this, while rewriting Woody. Or I may work on someone else's project instead, such as Figment or Buzz.
  • Needs a GUI database program.
  • Needs a decent text editor. I've been using the one I created, called pedit.
  • Needs a better file browser. Clerk works, but is minimal. However, I've been creating one. It's called PFM, and does most of what I need already.
  • A paint program would be fun.
  • The jffs filesystem is somewhat buggy when there is very little free space. This is improving, but makes me nervous.
  • It'd be nice if miniapm would display a simple text reading of the battery percentage, instead of a graphic with a popup bubble.
  • I'd also like minitime better if it looked "clean" like it used to. It was just a shaped x11 window with the time in a clean font.
These things are Zaurus-specific:
  • The kernel is way old. 2.4.6 was a long time ago!
  • Not very good X11 support. It has problems with the backlight, and suspending, and resuming. It's also missing xrandr on-the-fly rotation, and some other useful features.
  • Needs a dedicated power button. Could also toggle backlight. I dislike sharing a key between Escape and Suspend.
  • Could use more ROM space, but this is not a big deal if you have a large MMC card to install programs onto.
  • It's nice that the bootloader can flash straight from CF cards, but it would also be nice if it had more of the CRL/OHH bootloader's features. Such as booting from a kernel in jffs2, and using only two partitions (bootloader and root), and a serial console.
And these are iPaq-specific:
  • Large changes in CPU speed cause kernel errors. This should be fixed. By now, maybe it is. I don't check often.
  • The H3630 has only 16MB ROM and 32MB RAM. This is just not enough space to really do much. And adding expansion sleeves to allow both networking and more storage makes the iPaq huge!
  • The iPaq needs a flip cover for the screen, badly.
  • The iPaq screen scratches during use. This is pretty common for PDAs, but I mention it because the Zaurus screen is incredibly difficult to scratch.
These are some things I had mentioned before, but which got fixed:
  • Needs a way to display and switch between running programs. Matchbox provides this nicely.
  • Needs a process manager. Something like gtop, maybe. I wrote one. Pyproc.
  • Needs a working volume controller. The mixer works, but could stand to work a little nicer...
  • Needs a kernel with sane suspend-mode power usage. Woo-hoo! It's fixed! Battery usage is nice and friendly now.
  • Needs a daemon to control backlight based on the light sensor. Well, it doesn't use the light sensor, but there are daemons to handle the backlight for you now.
  • Needs a very small, minimal battery meter. I wrote one.
  • Needs a daemon to handle the hardware buttons. That way, you could use them to launch programs, or perform actions. There is such a daemon now, but it's a bit buggy.
  • Needs a good onscreen keyboard. Xkbd is now quite spiffy.
  • Needs decent handwriting software. Something at least as capable as TealScript for the palm pilot. Something you can train. Hey, look. Xstroke got cool.
  • A good text reader would be nice. A streaming text viewer would be even better. Those are the kind which display one word at a time, in a big font, very quickly. Heh. I made one. Install gutenflash to try it.
  • Needs a decent program launcher. The menu system now handles this pretty well.
  • Needs an addressbook. Storm provides it.
  • Badly needs a window manager designed for PDA use. Standard window managers suck on a 240x320 screen. Wow. Matchbox is groovy.
The iPaq makes a great development environment for programs using Python and GTK+.

It seems that 16MB flash would be plenty of space, considering how big 4MB seems on the palm pilot. But it's a bit cramped on the ipaq because of the size of X11, libraries, python, etc... However, this problem is being gradually fixed.

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Last modified: November 19, 2002 @ 1:40 MST
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