Home Messages Index
[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next]
Author IndexDate IndexThread Index

Re: Palm NOT Dead, Moves to GNU/Linux

In article news:<1567795.MjjDsEHbyx@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>, Roy Schestowitz 
> Several  years ago, concerns were raised not only about the inability
> (or unwillingness)  to  support multi-tasking.

Thinking more about this since I posted yesterday, I suspect that a major 
concern is that Palm application programs are not written to be 
thread-safe (because there has never been a need) -- and that the APIs 
may not even be designed to support thread safety.

I'm thinking mostly here of 3rd-party apps, because Palm have control 
over their own apps and could always rewrite them to be safe/using 
threadsafe APIs.

It should be possible to construct an OS that could run current PalmOS 
apps in a single-threaded environment while at the same time supporting 
multiple instances of new apps, written with thread-safety in mind.

I suspect that PalmOS 6 (remember that?) -- at which I haven't looked -- 
was written along these lines. It's a pity it hasn't seen the light of 

> Another principal  concern  has been (and still is) unicode and
> internationalisation.


> Not only might cross-device beaming break, ...

That should be possible to work with. There is some device 
recognition/handshaking at the start of a beam transfer, and an 
additional step could be inserted for Unicode-capable devices -- if only 
one device was Unicode-capable it would detect that the other device was 
using an 8-bit charset and convert data from Unicode to 8-bit on transmit 
and /vice versa/ on receive.

> Moreover, think of issues like packet size,  clipboard
> stack/size, memo pad limits and so forth.

These things would only be a problem within a device, and a device with 
the new OS would be able to ensure that it provided at least what an old 
app would expect.

> We  bagan a certain elaborate discussion  ... I can track that long
> thread if you are interested.

I think I followed it at the time.

> > Putting the PalmOS front-end on top of linux is probably a great
> > idea if you want to be able to license PalmOS as a front-end to
> > PDA/smartphone makers who already have linux running on their
> > hardware. It is probably not going to make it any easier to add
> > multitasking to the GUI layer.

I'm not sure I believe that quite as strongly as I did yesterday!

In the light of the thoughts I have sketched out above, I can see a 
future linux-based Palm that has a single PalmOS emulation process that 
can run current apps in single-threaded 8-bit mode, but can also run 
linux-based apps in a Unicode-capable multitasking mode alongside them.

It's not what I was thinking of when I wrote yesterday -- it won't 
multitask PalmOS apps (and so is not what many users are probably hoping 
to see) but it should be doable.

> ... studies  have  foreseen  a  future  where  only  Windows- and
> Linux-based  devices prevail (so long Symbian and other small
> vendors).  I think your point affirms such an analysis.

I really hope not!

SymbianOS is the ONLY PDA/Phone OS that was designed from the outset with 
the things we're talking about here -- multitasking and Unicode -- in 
mind. Symbian have made decisions that made better business sense than 
technical sense, and some decisions that make no sense in hindsight, but 
I believe their OS is technically the best available. 

A big problem with Symbian is that their members/licensees persuaded them 
that, for business reasons, the GUI should be replaceable by individual 
vendors so that they could stamp their own "look and feel" on their 
products. This has meant that 3rd-party developers couldn't just produce 
one binary executable to run on all devices (they're all ARM-based, so 
this *should* have been possible) but had to target each GUI/device 
family separately. When one sees the huge following Palm has built up -- 
largely on the back of the vast amount of 3rd-party software available -- 
one can start to guess how much damage that has done Symbian in the 

Microsoft have thrown an awful lot of money at WinCE, and it's only now 
starting to be real competition for PalmOS and Symbian (and most users 
STILL choose a Microsoft device solely because it has the same name on it 
as their desktop system and they think that is a necessary and sufficient 
condition for compatibility between the two).

Sorry, I'm starting to rant.


[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next]
Author IndexDate IndexThread Index