16. Resources/Links

16.1. The OpenPsion Website

The main website for the OpenPsion project is: openpsion.org, or more directly, http://linux-7110.sourceforge.net. In particular, check out the Linux on the Psion 5MX/5MX-PRO HOWTO for general usage information, e.g., how to set up a desktop<->netBook PPP connection.

16.2. netBook Linux Distributions

There are now two distributions available for installation on the linBook. Our aim is to eventually migrate and merge a distribution with openembedded. The original "distribution" for the netBook consisted of a root filesystem extracted and modified from the Sharp Zaurus ROM images (openzaurus). The Zaurus ROM's approach still remains an option (see the section on how to extract the contents of the ROM's in this HOWTO).

16.2.1. Openembedded Linux on the netBook (IPKG based)

Taneli Leppä has developed a kernel that has rudimentary compactflash and PCMCIA support. He is keeping a Blog of his efforts at Taneli Leppä's Blog. There are hints that LCD, touchscreen, irda, sound developments are on the way....

Taneli has also compiled the latest openembedded distribution for the netBook. You can find this ipkg distribution, being tailored to the netBook, at www.netbook-linux.org. The feed of the latest ipks is there as well.

16.2.2. Debian Linux on the netBook (DPKG based)

There is a prototype Debian linux distribution for the netbook developed at Debian Linux on netBook. This distribution is presently Debian Sarge ("stable"). Tarballs of this system are available directly from Sourceforge Files/Distributions. The X server that seems to work best is the ordinary Debian framebuffer server. Other X servers can also be installed, for example TinyX from IPKGfind at Handhelds.org. *.deb's from Debian "stable" should install on this system. Installation of Debian linux on the netBook requires a compactflash card of 256 MB or greater, in reality. (If you wanted only console and minimal applications, and didn't want the netBook's EPOC OS.img file, you might squeeze Debian onto a 64 MB card. My 128 MB card has Debian on it with X windows, but there is no more disk space left.)

An alternate Debian system might be found at linBook: Debian Woody Linux on the Psion netBook. This has a cleaner Debian installation, but it requires 170 MB to install. This distribution includes the graphical links browser using DirectFB. This distribution does not include X windows, the author preferring to wait until touchscreen is supported.

16.3. IPKG and DEB Feeds

The links below offer small root filesystems and a selection of IPKG or DEB packages. In general, any of these packages can be installed on any of the systems; feel free to experiment. Of the distributions below, "openzaurus", now migrated to "openembedded", is probably the most uptodate and developed.

The pdaXrom system does not work on the netBook. The issue is that pdaXrom is aggressively compiled for Xscale cpus; binaries from pdaXrom won't run on the netBook's sa1100 cpu (they merely give a segmentation fault). The lesson is when you scavange for ipks, avoid those compiled with aggressive Xscale optimization.

There are two levels of Xscale optimization. There is a mild optimization (-march=armv4 -mtune=xscale) and a more aggressive optimization (-mcpu=xscale -mtune=xscale). With the mild optimization, xscale-binaries also run on strongarm. Agressive optimized xscale-binaries don't run on strongarm - they just segfault.

  1. Debian Packages. Generic ARM binaries.

  2. IPKGfind at Handhelds.org. Perhaps the most advanced distribution for linux on IPAQ's.

  3. Openembedded. OpenEmbedded ... That's the successor of the great OpenZaurus project. Openpsion has made motions to merge with this group, although the motion has stalled out of late. Openembedded uses the "soft-float" floating point emulation (see floating point) by default these days.

  4. openzaurus. The original openzaurus system. A grass-roots alternative to "myzaurus".

  5. Zaurus Software.

  6. myzaurus.com. The official Zaurus update page.

  7. pdaXrom. A newer X-windows-based feed for newer zauruses (zaurii?). This system will not work on the netBook because it is highly optimized for the Xscale cpu. They claim that releases for other, older cpus may be made available "soon" (as of 7/04) so it may be worth keeping an eye on this site.

  8. PTXdist - Userland Configuration Tool. PTXdist is a collection of Makefiles under the GNU GPL which are used at Pengutronix for generating userlands.

  9. Emdebian Embedded Debian is a project to make Debian GNU/Linux a mainstream choice for embedded projects.

  10. Gentoo for Zaurus Apparently ipkg compatible, although the packages seem to have the *.tbz2 extension (whatever that is...). Looks problematic at the moment, for a number of reasons.

  11. Pocket Workstation - Debian on Handhelds Complete Debian + X windows ported to the Zaurus. Installs in a single directory. Requires a large compactflash card (256 MB preferred).

  12. Crow ROM For Zaurus. This ROM is an enhancement of Sharp's 3.10 release. (Perhaps an ipk for Opera is available in the applications zip file).

  13. Zaurus usergroup downloads Might be useful. See also Zaurus User Group; ipks for the Opera browser can be found here.


The HOWTO for PCMCIA on linux is at http://pcmcia-cs.sourceforge.net/ftp/doc/PCMCIA-HOWTO.html. This HOWTO is of great help in figuring out how to configure and run your PCMCIA card.

16.5. Plp Tools

This might be the easiest program to transfer files from you linux desktop to the psion over the serial line, pretty much plug-n-play. PLP Tools at Source Forge. (These days I just transfer data using a compactflash card and a USB reader on my desktop, aka sneakernet. It's much faster.)

16.6. ArLo

Zipped source and binary files can now be downloaded from the OpenPsion web page downloads.

The official ArLo page is located at Peter van Sebille's webpage Peter has moved on from OpenPsion work, alas.


16.7. Bookboot

"Bookboot" is a project to construct OS.img files for the netBook to allow booting up directly into linux and avoiding EPOC altogether. This approach seems to be working o.k., although it is not well tested. Check out bookboot. The web page for it is contained within this HOWTO, and you can certainly download it. OS.img's are available for downloading.

16.8. Proboot

Tony Lindgren's Proboot page Also some very useful information in the README about how the Psion's load the OS.img files and boot them up.

16.9. Precompiled Kernels

Try the openpsion downloads page at Source Forge.

You can also try the kernels at openpsion, although this site is likely to be temporary.

The original (now long out of date) kernel for the Series 7 is at Peter van Sebille's webpage; this will work on the netBook, but it supports only 16 MB of ram. Peter did a lot of the startup work with the Series 7, but has more or less dropped out of the picture now.

16.10. Initial Ramdisks (initrd's)

Initrd's can be downloaded from the openpsion downloads page at Source Forge. A newer initrd, still underdevelopment, can be found at Debian on netBook, a system derived from openzaurus. openpsion supports ipkg, networking, PPP, and ssh, among other things. Also check out Peter's site.

16.11. The Mail List

You can post queries at the OpenPsion mail list by sending an e-mail to linux-7110-psion@lists.sourceforge.net. You might even get a reply either directly, or appearing on the mail list.

You can browse the mail list archives, including the e-mail you just sent, by going to http://sourceforge.net/mailarchive/forum.php?forum_id=7163

16.12. netBook Stripped!

www.symbcity.com/ has pictures of a netBook taken apart.

16.13. The "simputer", from India

A firm in India apparently developed a PDA thing based on the sa1100 cpu: "Aims at developing low cost access device that can pervade the rural landscape, especially in third world countries." (The linBook is a better device, by far!) They post some of their applications on line, which may be of use on the netBook www.simputer.org/ gives a description of the device and some of its software. Alas, the simputer seems to have failed to catch on in rural India.

16.14. RISC OS on a netBook

There apparently was a move by RISC OS and Psion to produce an alternate OS for the netBook called RON. I don't believe anything came of it... A Press Release A quote from www.psionplace.com "I e-mailed Risc, when I wanted a netBook running Risc OS and they said that the Risc on netbook was put on the long term hold." I sent and e-mail asking if the (abandoned) work that was done on RON might be used for linux development - I received no reply.