AuthorJohn Biggs

iPAQ on Linux – Linux Journal, October 2, 2001

iPAQ on Linux

Hardware
by John D. Biggs

I knew something was wrong when the brightly back-lit screen of my iPAQ went dark. It was a curse: something, somewhere, wanted me to run Windows CE on my little handheld and was punishing me for trying to get a penguin to appear at startup, instead of a gloating little window. By installing a version of the PocketLinux operating system by Transvirtual, I had erased the boot loader in the computer’s memory, thereby reducing my iPAQ to a lifeless brick.

I searched the message boards for the latest information on Linux distributions for my machine. I found posts by users who were working happily with their installations, but there were a few cries in the dark by those whose handhelds, like mine, were dead. The experts at Compaq’s Research Laboratory (CRL) in Cambridge, Massachusetts were ready. They recommended that crashed users send their handheld to them for reFlashing, effectively giving them a second chance by clearing the memory and reinstalling the boot loader and kernel. I decided I had to go see these wizards at work, so I boarded the train at Grand Central Station in New York and came out at a Boston T Stop near MIT, ready to rescue my iPAQ from oblivion.
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Linux on iPAQ – Linux Journal, November 19, 2001

Linux on iPAQ

Hardware
by John Biggs

For those looking for a powerful ultra-microcomputer that runs Linux, Compaq’s shiny iPAQ 3600 series is the answer. The latest generation of handheld, the 3600 series comes with up to 32 megabytes of flash ROM and a TFT touchscreen that supports up to 4,086 colors. A digital (Intel) StrongARM 32-bit processor, clocked at 206MHz, as well as sound recording and playback facilities round out an already impressive package.

“The fundamental watershed that distinguishes the iPAQ from what came before is it’s capable of being a full-fledged computer. We shouldn’t think of it as a little thing on the end of a dongle”, said James Gettys, researcher at Compaq’s Compaq Research Lab (CRL) and co-author of the X Window System. “You have serious compute capability, significant amounts of memory. So for the first time you don’t have to view this thing as something that is divorced and different. It’s a full-fledged computer that happens to fit in your hand.”

That said, let’s look at how to scrape Windows CE out of our shiny new handheld and see the smiling visage of Tux greet us on reboot.
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Portland Water Trouble – Linux Journal, December 16, 2001

Portland Water Trouble

Industry News
by John D. Biggs

Due to a faulty computerized billing system, bills aren’t going out to water customers in Portland, Oregon. The city water bureau estimates it is losing a little over $13,000 a day as they struggle to fix a computer system that has been broken since it was turned on in February 2000.

As complaints about the bureau and its chairman, Erik Sten, pile up, a group of Linux gurus think they can solve the problem. But city hall–through no fault of its own, Sten says–has its hands tied.

“We need to get this thing functioning [in its current state] to stay in business”, Sten said. And that’s just what he and the system’s creator, UK-based Severn Trent Systems, are trying to do: get the thing running.
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Putting Linux in Classrooms around the World – Linux Journal, March 1, 2002

Putting Linux in Classrooms around the World

Education
by John D. Biggs

Forty-three top students at the Shree Bachhauli Secondary School in Bachhauli, Nepal are learning computer programming, a skill that could keep them out of the child-labor market and rocket them into higher education and a real job after graduation. Their school has 14 teachers and over 600 students, but the computer classes are kept small and staffed by German and Swiss volunteers who work for a group called Ganesha’s Project. They make do with donated machines and focus on open-source software like Linux, a move that cuts the cost of acquiring software licenses for an already impoverished school system.
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A New Kind of Mobile Device – Linux Journal, June 30, 2002

A New Kind of Mobile Device

Hardware
by John D. Biggs

Transmeta, the Linus-loving, super-efficient chip manufacturer, this week announced two new mobile devices that knock the socks off of current PDA and laptop offerings.

The devices, OQO Inc.’s Ultrapersonal Computer and Antelope Technologies Mobile Computer Core (MCC), are fully functional, Crusoe-based 1GHz workstations about the size of a deck of playing cards.
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PC Expo WrapUp – Linux Journal, June 28, 2002

PC Expo WrapUp

Community
by John D. Biggs

The veterans at New York’s PC Expo were amazed; they remembered years when the exposition floor was jammed with people. “It was hard to get across the room”, I heard someone say. “It was hard to pass people in the aisles.”
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Tablet PCs Are Back in Style – Linux Journal, July 24, 2002

Tablet PCs Are Back in Style

Hardware
by John D. Biggs

Technology, like fashion, runs in cycles. Every few years, bell-bottoms and plaids tend to reappear, and so does COBOL, Amiga hardware emulation and, that old chestnut, the tablet computer.

This year’s PCExpo in New York City featured a number of new tablet computing products designed to run Microsoft Windows XP Tablet Edition, which will be released in early November 2002. The idea behind tablet PCs, however, has been around since the Apple Newton. In fact, the new implementations are not all that innovative–they simply take advantage of more powerful, lighter hardware.
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