Applications for the Sharp Zaurus

Pull up a Zaurus and make yourself comfortable.

You just got your Zaurus and you are very proud of it. You tried every single application, then even typed some commands in the terminal, like uname -a, ping localhost and ifconfig to prove to yourself that it really is a GNU/Linux machine in the palm of your hand. You even know where most of the keys are but still may be looking for the pipe (hint: read to find out that bar = Shift-Space).

Sweet. But now what should you do? After the initial fun, you may be wondering what you can actually do with a machine you don't know how to use, and for which you think no third-party software exists. This article teaches you how to install software on the Zaurus and presents some killer applications you should know about.

Synchronizing PIM Data

First and foremost, you must load the Zaurus with your important information; otherwise, you will have to carry the Zaurus and your former PDA in your pocket, or worse, you will have to keep your Zaurus at home because it would be useless for your everyday life.

The first use for any handheld is personal information management (PIM), such as storing phone numbers, calendar entries, etc. In fact, the Palm was initially built around these functions, and if you have purchased a Palm, you probably depend on it to access your personal information.

How Can You Substitute the Zaurus?

Just take your Palm or your cell phone, and thanks to IrDA support, you can beam your data directly to the Zaurus, if its ROM supports IrDA. Launch Applications --> System info --> Version. If you see ROM version 1.1x, IrDA will work. If not, you will have to update your ROM with version 1.1x or higher, as explained below. This may seem like an obvious suggestion, but sending by infrared is the easiest way to transfer your data.

On your Palm, open the relevant application and click on the first tab and “Beam data” (calendar), “Beam business card” (phone book) or “Beam category” (phone book) should you want to send every business card at once.

On your cell phone, these steps will depend on the cell phone model. Please read your cell phone manual to find out how you can activate its infrared port to send data. It must 1) have an infrared port, 2) support IrDA and 3) conform to the VCS/VCF norm to send telephone numbers or calendar entries. Any recent cell phone (like the Siemens S35) will be fine.

On your Zaurus, now launch Settings --> Beam receive application and watch your data being received to the new handheld. Do not forget to click on “Add to Address book” or “Add to Calendar” when prompted to include the received information in the relevant applications.

If you have a Windows machine, or if you use Outlook as your PIM, there is another possibility. Just install intellisync, which is provided for free on your software disk. It can synchronize with Outlook or Palm Desktop, which means it will convert your Outlook or Palm contacts to Zaurus contacts.

Synchronizing Data

If you choose the intellisync method to get your data, you need to send it to the Zaurus. If you prefer another method, you need to back up this data on your PC anyway.

Look at the Zaurus cradle; you will notice it has a USB port. We will make it work perfectly with the Linux kernel after some simple steps.

First, you must know that the version of your Zaurus ROM dictates which synchronizing software you can use with your PC. Run Applications --> System Info --> Version to find which ROM your Zaurus is running. Read “Updating the ROM” below if you want to use a specific version. If you cannot see any ROM version information on there, then you are running a 1.02.

Go to to download the synchronizing software you need. The installation instructions are provided with the software. You may have to patch your kernel to compile a USB module.

Should you need more help, an excellent step-by-step guide is available. It includes help to make your Zaurus connect to the Internet using your computer connection.

The synchronizing software on your PC will let you save data every time you want to. It is recommended that you back up your agenda on a daily basis. You can then use desktop software or your computer to maintain it as well as your Zaurus and have both versions always synchronized.

Now that you have your Zaurus connection working, please back up your data immediately because we are going to test all kinds of software. You don't want to lose the PIM data you carefully put on your Zaurus, do you?



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Zaurus SL 5500

baptista's picture

I liked very much everything that you wrote in this article, but what about of ROM v.3.13?,I woul like to know if it functions. How to install the openssh and where I meet the xcopilot.
Another thing I´m interested is in how to make a backup copy, via rsync with the Kurumin, that is a brazilian version of Linux, very similar to Ubuntu. The Kurumin don´t detect the USB port.
Thans a lot for your help