Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Opie 1.2.4 is out

Whew. After over a year of hacking, Opie 1.2.4 is finally out. Thanks to everyone who helped! I hope we can get 1.2.5 out in less time, something like six months perhaps? Maybe if I get a few more patches / other assistance... (hint, hint)

In the mean time my next task is to get 1.2.4 recipes into OpenEmbedded. I will also be trying to get the OpenSync plugin into a more usable state after some fairly significant changes in the core recently. Here's hoping we can have a stable release of that soon as well.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Waking the dead

No, not the UK TV series - although I have to say I have enjoyed watching it since I've been here. No, what I'm referring to is resurrecting third party Zaurus/QPE/Opie applications. Now that Opie is in Angstrom the next task is to fix up third party applications and get them into the feeds. You can monitor this effort here (fortunately I'm not the only one working on it).

A lot of this is driven by user demand - several users have asked for specific applications to be available. One of the requested applications was qpenmapfe (a frontend for the nmap security testing tool) which is now unmaintained, and does not work very well on high resolution devices either. However, I found an alternative called qpe-nmap which although it was also unmaintained, it just needed a few tweaks to become fully usable on a wide range of devices. I contacted the author, Fabian Bieker, and he was very helpful, even agreeing to allow me to continue maintaining it (I don't envisage much maintenance will be required, but I'm prepared to do what is needed). The (mini-) project has a new website and a build recipe has just been committed to OpenEmbedded on its way into Angstrom.

Moving forward, I would be happy to take on maintainership of some more older third party applications that are compatible with Opie. If you are the owner of some generally useful Zaurus/QPE application project and you'd like to see your application maintained again, please get in touch with me and we'll see what we can work out :)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

SparkLAN Wifi card and Linux

People often ask about which Wifi card to buy to use with Linux, and in the past this was a difficult question to answer. When you're talking about a card to use on a PDA the available selection is even smaller.

However, on a whim I recently purchased a SparkLAN WCFM-100 which is an 802.11b/g CompactFlash card to try it out. Linux compatibility was listed in its product documentation, which is a good start.

It didn't quite work out of the box, however all I needed to do was enable building the libertas and libertas_cs modules in the kernel defconfig in OE, rebuild it, copy the modules over to my Zaurus, extract the firmware (instructions here) and copy that over to the Z, load the modules, and it worked. So I would definitely recommend this product to anyone wanting a wifi card for their Linux-based PDA. When I get some time I will try do document the procedure properly and/or submit some patches to make it easier to get working in Angstrom.

Opie now supported in Angstrom

Opie 1.2.3 is now supported in the Ångström Linux distribution. Check out the announcement.

Woot! :)

Sunday, September 07, 2008

IntelliSync testing

I had a go with IntelliSync (the SL version) connecting to Opie on my Zaurus this evening. I found that despite being a little hard to find, IntelliSync is in fact still available for download, which is good because the CDs that came with my Zaurus are in Japanese only. Thankfully the installer does not require any licence keys or device presence in order to install.

The next thing was to get the USB network connection working in Windows. I plugged in my Zaurus, Windows popped up the usual dialogs and I fed it the usual linux.inf file which it accepted. Unfortunately though after a delay the result was the error "This device cannot start. (Code 10)". There are numerous references to this error message on the web, but I couldn't find a satisfactory solution amongst any of them. (Of course USB networking between my Z and my laptop when running Linux works perfectly.)

I decided to simply press on and try to get IntelliSync to connect to my Z over WiFi. Despite only having USB and Serial options for the connection type and it insisting on not allowing the IP address of my Z ( I was finally able to coerce it into connecting by specifying an address of the same length that it would allow (eg., and then editing the file NetStat.dat with a hex editor to change the address. If you then go to the connection settings and click OK the change should be permanent.

This is not enough to actually get it synchronising however - it's obviously connecting, however all you get is a quick flash of the sync screen on the Opie side and then an error with the suggestion to "check the application version" from IntelliSync. Presumably this means that Opie is not sending the responses that IntelliSync expects. I suppose I will have to analyse the traffic in order to fix this.

Monday, September 01, 2008


I've been doing a lot of work on Opie lately. So far I have managed to achieve the following:

* Fixed Konqueror-Embedded (albeit the 20070316 version) to work with the nice new GUI. I have issues building it from OE .dev though and SSL doesn't seem to be working, so there is work to be done yet. Getting the 20080319 version working would be nice (currently segfaults on startup). A lot of people have asked for this one so it's nice to make some progress.

* Improvements to the new opie-cardapplet. It should now manage removeable cards with ease and won't let you do anything silly like ejecting the card your system is running from :)

* Fixed *a lot* of minor bugs for the 1.2.4 release, which is close at hand.

* Fixed a few package building issues in OE, mostly for packages outside the core set built for images (including third-party applications). I still haven't got Portabase or QPDF2 building though, and I haven't even looked at kopi/kapi yet.

* Tested and pushed for Opie 1.2.3 to be supported in Angstrom. We're almost there, the "machine mentors" just need to get into gear and accept the already built images.

I also bought a Sharp Zaurus SL-C3000 from Japan on eBay, which has given me not only a new burst of inspiration but also some extra items for my task list (mainly to do with improving Opie's high-resolution support), and given me another machine to test Opie with. It's really quite a nice device - great screen, usable keyboard, CF, SD, and USB host. Built-in bluetooth and wifi would be nice, but at least you can get those with an additional CF card.

Next thing is to get back into sorting out the syncing situation. Opensync has moved on a little bit lately and I need to catch up. I would also like to test the copy of Intellisync that I received with my Zaurus - OK, it's commercial software, but lots of Zaurus users will still have it and no doubt expect it to work. With any luck it should just work out of the box.