Must-Have Zaurus Hardware and Software

Tips on ways to optimize your Zaurus and some killer applications.
PIM Applications

Migrating data from your old PDA, as explained in the Zaurus FAQ, is troublesome. Beaming database after database, then bits and parts of other databases, is tiring. But, now there is an easy way to migrate your PIM through a simple Perl script. Install Perl 5.6.1, opie-sh and p2z. Next, put AdressDB.pdb, DatebookDB.pdb, MemoDB.pdb and ToDoDB.pdb on your Zaurus, and then run p2z.

Now for the cell phone. If your cell phone has an IR port that can send data, receive it on the Zaurus by clicking Settings-->Beam receive. Click on Add to Address book or Add to Calendar when prompted to include the received information in the relevant applications.

The clunky bundled personal information manager (PIM) applications are the Zaurus' big weak point. An alternative is tkcAgenda, tkcDatebook and tkcMemo from While's PIM applications are fully compatible with the default applications, they replace them completely without leaving you any choice or restoration option. also offers tkcKapital to help you manage your money and tkcExpense, a nice add-on to track your expenses.

Sync (with Free Bonus Networking)

Unlike older PDAs, the Zaurus actually talks IP over the USB cable to the host computer. If you're running masquerading on the host, the same connection you use for synchronizing data becomes a general-purpose net connection. Instructions for setting up networking over USB for several common distributions are available (see Resources). After you have that working, use the Qtopia Desktop software from Sharp or direct from Trolltech to sync.

Getting on the Internet

With USB, you have a working net connection when the Zaurus is in the cradle. If you only have a wired network, you can get a CompactFlash network card for around $50 US; however, wireless networking is much more fun. The best 802.11b card available for the Zaurus is the Socket WL6000-320 low-power card. While bigger cards like the Linksys WCF-11 work, they eat a lot of power. The Linksys WCF-11 also prevents you from using the stylus slot. Some other cards, including D-Links, block both the audio port and the stylus slot.

Some configuration file tweaks are necessary if you have a ROM prior to 1.1x. But because early Sharp ROMs have a security hole, it's best to upgrade your ROM before adding a network card.

The Socket WL6000-320 also will certainly become plug-and-play in the future—maybe by the time you read this. Check your ROM's release notes, and if support hasn't been added, use the driver listed in Resources.

Now that you have an 802.11b-capable Zaurus, you might want an access point. I recommend the hacker-friendly Linksys WAP11. Not only does it work well with GNU/Linux using SNMP software, but you can update its firmware and use directional antennas to make a long-distance wireless bridge.

Installing Applications with ipkg

The problem of packaging applications for Linux PDAs was solved when the first versions of Linux running on the Compaq iPAQ appeared. An ipkg package is basically a .tar.gz file with some basic control information. If you want to install an application, type:

ipkg install package.ipk.

Make sure it was compiled for ARM and that you have the libraries it will need. If you want to remove a package, ipkg remove package will do it.

Now, the Essentials...Games!

The best way to play a lot of games on the Zaurus is to install an emulator. What about playing old Nintendo Game Boy games? If you have purchased the games, get GnuBoy, and find a way to download the ROM files legally for the game you own. You can get a GnuBoy application associated with all of the *.gb and *.gbc files, so you will be able to start each Game Boy game simply by selecting the files from the Documents tab. Add the following line to /home/QtPalmtop/etc/mime.types:

application/gameboy gb gbc

And add these lines to qtopiagnuboy.desktop:

snes9x is the famous Nintendo emulator, which works much the same way for SuperNES games. However, native games will run better and faster than either Game Boy or SuperNes emulated games.

You must know NetHack--wouldn't you like to play it on your Zaurus as well? If you prefer a chess-like strategy game, the Zaurus is a Java-capable device, so you can get Laser Chess. And don't miss Froot, a puzzle bubble-like game that won the Games category in the recent Qtopia developer contest (Figure 1).

Figure 1. The award-winning Froot is simple, yet addictive.



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Francisco Baptista's picture

I worked in my Zaurus Collie with this great program.I would like to know if it have a correspondent program for wm 2003. Excuse me the change...
Thanks in advance