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WirelessDevNet: Linux for handhelds: fact or fiction? [Linux7k for Psion Series 5]

May 04, 2000, 21:55 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Paul Maddox)

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"One such project to port Linux to another platform is Linux7k. The platform that has been targeted by '7k is (somewhat surprisingly) the Psion Series 5 handheld. In fact "7k" refers to 7110, the base motherboard and chip for the Psion device."

"A lot of interest has developed for using a Linux-based Series 5 as a diagnostics tool for routers and other networking hardware. In this case, a PPP connection, and a telnet or SSH (encrypted shell) session could provide a solution. A use such as this could promote Linux7k to more Series 5 users. Another worthy use for Linux on the Psion is one I came across a while ago. It is possible to use the GNU editor Emacs as an aid to the blind by using it with a module allowing a synthetic voice to speak text out of a suitable sound device. I had a suggestion from one user asking if it was possible to use such a set-up running on the Series 5. The idea would be that the user could use a Series 5 with Emacs and the voice module as a "vocal notepad". At the time it was deemed too power hungry for a Series 5 to handle. With the progression of Linux7k to the Series 5mx (providing more memory, and a faster and FPU enabled processor) it may now be possible to implement this fantastic idea."

"Although cross-compilation is perhaps the user-friendliest way of porting and developing applications for Linux7k (if only for the full-sized keyboard!) it is still possible to run the development tools on the Psion itself. Examples of this would be gcc, g++ and yacc. Rather than just tools that create binaries, there also exists suitably portable scripting tools such as Perl, Bash and Csh. As may be expected, the '7k kernel is cross-compiled from an Intel installation of Linux on a desktop. Early on, a toolkit was developed to allow compilation of the source into an ARM7110 kernel binary. Developing on a PC means that the kernel can be compiled much quicker. This speed difference is important when considering that the native platform is a handheld."

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