Welcome to Linux on Psion Handhelds!

Openpsion (formerly psilinux) is a project to port the Linux operating system to a group of palmtops produced by Psion. At present, working linux systems can be installed on any of the Series 5, Series 5MX, Series 5MX-Pro, Revo (Revo+, Mako) machines (NOT the Series 3).

All root file systems are based on either Debian or handhelds.org (openembedded) linux, since precompiled binary packages (e.g., "*.deb" or "*.ipk" files) for the ARM processors are available. The Debian approach (Sarge) is presently the most developed. Installation of linux on a Psion requires some prior experience with the linux operating system.

Our status page shows the status of support for the various Psion devices. Support for the 5MX/5MX PRO is now complete. Linux on the Series 7/netBook is more or less working, although kernel support for the hardware is not quite complete.

6/2/06 Looking for an ARM cpu emulator? Try Qemu and a Debian ARM system! Debian ARM Linux on Qemu Download a suitable kernel and a modified Debian Sarge system, and then use apt-get on your emulated ARM Debian system to install development files, etc.

5/17/06 Linux on the 5MX has received a general update recently. The 5MX HOWTO has been revised and updated, the latest Debian stable distribution, code named "Sarge", will run fine on the 5MX, and a few kernel developments have brought the 2.4.27 kernel for the 5MX to the point where all the hardware components are supported, including sound (play and record) and the real time clock. (There have been a few reports that this new kernel fails to detect a few select compactflash cards, however. 6/2/06) See the HOWTO and Sourceforge "downloads" (link above) for details. It took us a while, but we got there!

5/12/06 The 5MX pages contains links to developer pages for linux on the 5MX. If you have a page describing your work on this subject, please post the URL to the mail list with a short description you would like to include.

10/16/05 Wiki Troubles... Because of a security problem (and other problems, e.g. wiki spam), our Wiki has been disabled. A number of pages contained useful information and applications compiled for netBook or 5MX that could be downloaded, and so these have been salvaged for now as static html pages Here. These pages look like wiki pages, but they are not.

9/6/05 Debian 3.1 (Sarge - "stable") released, and a package tarball of Sarge is also released for netBook. See the Files section of Sourceforge. Requires a 256MB or greater compactflash card. This package can be adapted to the 5MX.

Series 7/netBook Summary

We have X-windows, rudimentary compactflash, PCMCIA, and touchscreen support working on the netBook! Most wireless network cards and compactflash work "out of the box". A program called "bookboot" can be used to create "OS.img" files for directly booting to linux from compactflash (avoiding EPOC altogether). With the large-sized compactflash cards becoming affordable (1 GB or more), complete Debian systems can be installed on the netBook, including a development environment, e.g., the linux kernel can be compiled on the netBook.

The firefox web browser can be installed on the netBook and works fine as a complete, modern, secure web browser, if a little slowly. A reduced firefox web browser, "minimo", is also soon to be available. With touch screen support, and/or an external serial mouse, browsing the web is a breeze. Download the binary for the SA1100 cpu from "downloads" above.

N.B.: Linux on the netBook is still alpha/sub-beta stage. For example, there is no way to turn the linBook off yet.

For more information, see the netBook HOWTO at the "howtos" link above, or click on "screenshots".

Series 5MX/5MX Pro Summary

A base state of Debian Sarge (or Woody) including X11 is also available for the 5MX. You can download it from Sourceforge Files. You can see one notes about the Woody distribution HERE (go to the bottom of the page; note the "release notes" link there).

Distribution packages are now available for the Revo and 5MX (and similar flavors, e.g. Diamond Mako, 5MXPro) - these are tarballs that can be unpacked for direct installation. It is still a bit of work to assemble a functioning system. Work is in progress towards building distributions that can be installed in a user customized way. X11 can be installed onto the 5MX with a compactflash card (see screenshots above). There have also been moves to merge this project with the openembedded project, which would be a good idea.

The basic procedure at the moment is to copy ARLO (the equivalent of LILO, or, more accurately, LOADLIN.exe), a working kernel binary, and an initrd.gz filesystem to the EPOC filesystem on the psion. Executing ARLO from the EPOC environment then transfers control of the machine to linux, and linux takes over the machine using the filesystem of initrd.gz. All information stored in EPOC memory (the C: drive) is lost in this procedure (we cannot tell you to back up your system often enough). Some systems support compactflash memory, so that the whole system is less volatile, use of the initrd.gz filesystem is avoided, more complete linux filesystems can be built, and all of the memory of the Psion can be used as system memory.

One example installation used a 128MB compactflash card, formated with 32MB for EPOC and 96MB for linux, giving a dual boot EPOC/Linux system using Arlo. The Blackbox X11 window manager was used. After installation of the Debian system, the disk has 12.4 MB of free disk space.

For more information, see the Series 5MX HOWTO at the "howtos" link above, or click on "screenshots".

Revo/Revo+/Mako Summary

This system works on the Revo. See Running Linux On The Psion Mako/Revo and/or Revo distribution. (Documentation is lacking.)

This page was last modified May 17, 2006 by B.D.