Getting to know the new Linux-based Nokia 770 "handlet"

The long-awaited Nokia 770 Internet Tablet (I call it a "handlet" because it's, well, hand-sized) has been announced in Europe and is reportedly due for the rollout in the U.S. on Thursday. I've been playing with a pre-release one, and naturally have some questions for Nokia. But I'd rather have yours. So let's have 'em.


Let the record (that's this, right here) show that on Google a search for "Nokia 770" brings 845,000 results at 11:15pm PST, on November 7, 2005. Google's Blog Search finds 2520 results. Technorati finds 2797, none yet tagged . So I'm guessing this very post will be the first. (Gotta be the first at something, here.)

All those numbers are bound to go up.

Om Malik has been on the case. Here's his announcement from November 4. Here's a report on country-by-country availability, and prices in Euros and Pounds. Here's Linux Devices' report. And here's their anticipatory report from last Spring.

Engadget reports that a Doom Port runs on it.

There's already a cult site of sorts: Lots of links to follow from that site and the ones I've already mentioned (and have slighted by not including here).

My min-report: it's very cool.

Basically, it's a browser with lots of extra features. The wide 800 x 480 screen is pretty and very sharp. That resolution in a palm-sized device (5.5" x 3.1" x 0.7" with a 4.3" screen) means looking at itty-bitty (but very sharp) type, which is a strain for my old eyes. But fortunately the 770 comes with two ways (one involving a nice big rocker switch with a + and a -) to zoom the display, and another button for making the browser window full-screen.

Getting onto a Wi-Fi signal is simple. My 9-year old, who isn't a computer whiz (yet... he's more of a book reader/outdoor type), figured it out in about 20 seconds. Memory is small and solid-state. No hard drive, though there's a USB hookup (requiring external power for the drive). You can hook up a keyboard too. Or use a bluetooth keyboard. Bluetooth also bridges the unit to the cell system through a bluetooth-equipped cell phone. I have one of those, which I haven't tried yet.

Right now I'm listening to WUNC radio over the 770. I've also been listening to Radio Paradise and WNYC-FM. All sound terrific through powered speakers or headphones. In fact, the 770 has become my designated Internet Radio. Nice to finally have one. (It has its own speaker too, by the way.)

There's lots more to report; but I've told the Nokia folks I'd rather have you guys ask better questions than I would (since most of you are more technical than I am).

And maybe some of you readers in Europe have picked one of these buddies up already. If you have, let us know how you like it and how you're using it.

So, fire away...

[Addendum...] Just learned from Nokia that will be selling the 770 starting next week, at an anticipated retail price of $350. - ds


Doc Searls is Senior Editor of Linux Journal


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It is really good price!

dfghj's picture

It is really good price!

I think the price is good

john ivanoff's picture

I think the price is good not for everyone. in my country nokia 770 cost about $1350. Just waiting for price down.


Serg's picture

A 64MB of DDR RAM available for running applications, and 128MB of internal FLASH storage - very good parameters for Nokia 770.

Space - the final frontier ...

Anonymous's picture

It looks like a handheld from Star Trak - would anyone use this device ?

Is there text, html, and direct control of linux?

Anonymous's picture

Is there a directcommand or text-interface? To take advantage of linux, you need one! Is python present for high-level programming?
One wonders because neither text nor html appear among listed file formats for Nokia 770:

Supported File Formats
Audio: MP3, MPEG4-AAC, WAV, AMR, MP2
Image: JPEG, GIF, BMP, TIFF, PNG, Animated GIF format,
SVG-tiny, ICO
Video: MPEG1, MPEG4, Real Video, H.263, AVI, 3GP

Internet Tablet Talk

Anonymous's picture

A lot of these questions have been raised and answered at Internet Tablet Talk --

Anyone interested in a Nokia 770 would also want to check out too.

Battery life

Richard Jones's picture

My Zaurus is great except for the poor battery life (under 2 hours). How does the 770 fare in the battery department?

No Australian Release for Nokia 770 !?!

nick's picture

Thank you for emailing Nokia Careline.

We appreciate you interest in our new product Nokia 770. In response to your enquiry, please be advised that the release of Nokia mobile phones are market, country and region dependent. As such, the Nokia 770 will not be made available within the Asia Pacific region.

The decision on releasing Nokia products in a specific country or region is very much dependent on the survey carried out to evaluate the demand rate for this particular product.

Should you have any further enquiries, or if we can be of any assistance, please do not hesitate to contact the Nokia Careline and speak to any one of our friendly Customer Service Executives on 1300 366 733 between the hours of 8am and 8pm EST, seven days a week. For online assistance, please visit 'ASK Nokia' at our website


Anonymous's picture

Good Day,

In march I will be moving from the US to Canberra and I will be looking for work. We just got our Visa and my girlfriend starts teaching at ADFA in March. I'm glad to see there is a strong Linux community. I could easily bring a 770 with me.


Damo's picture


Actually, I live in Canberra and am actively looking for one at the moment. won't ship to Australia, not will CompUSA. Any site that actually has one has hiked its price (~US$400) which makes it a very expensive piece of kit after converting to aussie dollars.

If I don't manage to get one shipped here before you leave, I would be very interested if you could bring one over.


Not to worry their product

Anonymous's picture

Not to worry their product must be crap, if they think it is not worth it to release it to us.

I think I'll get one of these:

Way better than Nokia's crap.

Yeah, I'm sure it'll fit

GaryD's picture

Yeah, I'm sure it'll fit much better in your shirt pocket -- and cheaper, too!

More Nokia 770 questions

Tony K.'s picture

How is the Nokia 770's screen under outdoor (sunlit) conditions? I have seen few laptops that have very good screen visibility during the day, unless under low light controlled conditions.

How does one get to command line?

Are both stylus and bluetooth keyboard input available for command line?

Is SSH client expected?

Where can I find a list of presently included software available from command line?

Anonymous's picture

(Dunno about the outdoor

David Weinehall's picture

(Dunno about the outdoor conditions; when it's nice weather outside I do other things...)

Instructions on how to get a commandline is provided in the Wiki.

Yes, both stylus and BT keyboard can be used for input; currently you have to disable screen blanking when you use BT keyboard though, since it doesn't pick up input events from BT, thus it doesn't notice any user activity. With a modified usb hub you can also connect a usb keyboard.

I think someone already ported dropbear.

bash or other shell?

Anonymous's picture

Does it come with a shell? It will sell to geeks everywhere if they hide a command line interface somewhere.


Allan Doyle's picture

Can I hook it up to a GPS? Or is there one inside?

Delorme Bluelogger

Russ Nelson's picture

The Delorme Bluelogger ought to work just fine over bluetooth. That's what I'm planning on using.

Blue Logger

Allan Doyle's picture

Good point. I guess I need to look up Linux/Bluetooth/GPS... Thanks.

Blue Logger on NOkia 770

Anonymous's picture

What GPS software are you planning on using on the Nokia?
I was thinking about getting a Blue Logger anyway because I have several bluetooth devices like pocket pc phone that I can use it on. Delorme's site doesn't say it will run on linux.


Doc Searls's picture

There's no GPS inside, though it would make a terrific display for a USB-connected self-powered GPS. Smething like this might be cool. Problem is, most GPS companies think most users have Windows laptops. Too many (like the new Magellan GPS I just got) only have serial ports.

Doc Searls is Senior Editor of Linux Journal


ziggetty's picture

why usb? when you can use a bluetooth GPS

Remote Desktops

Anonymous's picture

Does it include rdesktop or tsclient or vnc or anything for connecting to other systems?


Zed's picture

Can you configure the virtual keyboard to a layout sensible for stylus-entry like ATOMIK, or is it hard-coded to QWERTY?

Can you virtually rotate the display to portrait? (And, if so, do the directional buttons' meaning rotate with it?)

Can I extend it?

DMtTM's picture


1) Can I cross compile my own linux apps and run them on the Nokia 770?

2) Can I attach a USB keyboard to it and also have a USB HD attached at the same time?

3) Can I attach a USB DVD drive?

4) Does it come with SSH installed?

1) Yupp, there's a

Anonymous's picture

1) Yupp, there's a cross-compile package around. Look at

2) Yup, you'll need a powerd usb-hub and at the moment a hacked firmware.

3) I suppose also a hacked firmware

4) nope, but you can get dropbear.

Radio Paradise

Fourputtinski's picture

Wow! Thanks for helping me discover Radio Paradise. I'm hooked!


Radio (Linux) Paradise

Doc Searls's picture

I've written a lot about , which is an open source and Linux landmark, as well as a helluva radio station on the Web. Glad you like it.

Doc Searls is Senior Editor of Linux Journal

Above RadioParadise link broken

X-Nc's picture

The URL in the above note as a spurious quote mark (") in it after the com and before the / than makes it unclickable. Just remove the quote and it'll work fine. Or click on the link in the story. Or click here if you are lazy.


sergio f's picture

Doc, does it support WPA encryption on the WiFi connection? How does it deal with finding different hot spots automatically?


Yes, it does.

JC's picture

It does support WPA, and you should send your love and appreciation for it to Samuel Ortiz < samuel () sortiz ! org > who has been working very hard to get everything related to WIFI working on the 770.

Thank you Samuel Ortiz!

Anonymous's picture

Thank you, thank you!!!

WiFi discovery

Doc Searls's picture

If it isn't on the Net already, in the top menu bar there's a little globe that brings up ta Connect button, and a Connection Manager. Click on either and you'll come to a list of available signals, their ESSIDs, signal strengths, and a little symbol indicating whether or not they are "locked" (WEP'd, presumably). Comparing the 770 to other devices around here, it's not quite the equal of the IBM ThinkPad T40 or the 17" PowerBook, though it's much better than the Titanium-vintage PowerBook my wife uses. To its credit, the 770 does find and list a remarkable assortment of available signals, but it doesn't do as well as the better laptops on Musing the weak signals. I think one reason may be that it's often in the bag-of-water we call a human hand. Most laptops have antennas that are away from bodily interference. (Remember that the 2.4GHz frequencies of Wi-Fi aren't far from the frequencies used by microwave ovens, which rely on the signal-absorbent properties of water-bearing foodstuffs.)

All of which is why one thing I'd like to see is an external antenna connection.

Doc Searls is Senior Editor of Linux Journal

Yes, it supports WPA.

Samuel's picture

Yes, it supports WPA.

Yep, and thank Samuel for

Alexey's picture

Yep, and thank Samuel for this support.

Nokia's relationship with the Free Software community

Jonathon's picture

1. Given that the 770 has much of its foundation based on Free Software technology (Linux kernel, Debian, gstreamer, GNOME, Matchbox Window Manager, etc.) how does Nokia plan to handle future development and releases of the 770's official OS? Will development be open to the community? Does Nokia plan to charge or provide free downloads for official OS revisions released in the future?

2. How does Nokia license new software that it develops for the 770?

3. Does Nokia intend to provide specifications and any other relevant information about the 770 hardware that might be needed by Free Software developers who intend to replace the official 770 OS with a customized, community-developed OS? What is Nokia's position in regard to such a project should one form?

Nokia and the Free Software community

Anonymous's picture

1. Given that the 770 has much of its foundation based on Free Software technology (Linux kernel, Debian, gstreamer, GNOME, Matchbox Window Manager, etc.) how does Nokia plan to handle future development and releases of the 770's official OS? Will development be open to the community? Does Nokia plan to charge for official OS updates released in the future?

2. How does Nokia license new software that it develops for the 770?

3. Does Nokia intend to provide specifications and any other relevant information about the 770 hardware that might be needed by Free Software developers who intend to replace the default 770 OS with a customized, community-developed platform? What would Nokia's position be in regard to such a project in the event that one forms?

Nokia and FS community.

JC's picture

1. As you can see from the official press releases, Nokia intends to release a software update later on 2006, which includes, as officially mentioned, VoIP, amongst others.

2. It all depends, but most of the software developed for the 770 is taken from OSS community and in many cases is GPL, so whenever is distributed, the sources are made available. See below.

3. See where i believe some other projects have been already made available.

a good start, but...

wjlonien's picture

Hi Doc,

thanks for the article. I was looking at the product page lately and even downloaded the manual, so I am quite interested as it seems...

But the thing is: it seems to lack so much. Where can you set up your GPG keys for instance? Can you install packages like with apt-get or the like? All of these remain unanswered, so I lost my initial interest again.

It would be nice to see a comeback of PDA-like devices with Linux or one of the BSDs, but I'm not sure if this is the one...


Look at

Anonymous's picture

Look at

The 770 is a Debian machine.

Samuel's picture

The 770 is a Debian machine. dpkg, for example, is already installed.

What does it have for Microphone Input?

bincbom's picture

Does the 770 have some form of audio input? If so, and it has a codec, what are the available audio sampling rates?


Great question. With some

Anonymous's picture

Great question. With some sort of audio input it could also be an IP/Chat telephone handset.

Nice gizmo, but is it worth all this fuss?

crysaz's picture

You can surf and read your email, but how about sending one? If you want to get most out of this, it's handwriting regognition should be very hi quality. I really don't see usefulness of this phone, but I will definatively buy one, if there is practical shell client for ssh connections.

It wont legally be able to

Anonymous's picture

It wont legally be able to support "wireless email" because of some fuckwit's patent on "wireless email." Even Microsoft had to edit their Windows CE and remove email support from it.

it's not a phone

oren's picture

one of the cool things the 770 is that it's a pure WiFi device - no phone included.

The lack of audio input, and

Anonymous's picture

The lack of audio input, and inability to use this item with
VoIP (like Skype) is the killer for me. I would *love* to have
one of these and use it for VoIP phone.

*That* is the hardware I'm looking for! I'll wait till I find

The lack of audio input, and

Anonymous's picture

The lack of audio input, and inability to use this item with
VoIP (like Skype) is the killer for me. I would *love* to have
one of these and use it for VoIP phone.

*That* is the hardware I'm looking for! I'll wait till I find

Just an fyi .. audio.. / voip compatibility is built in

Anonymous's picture

Just an fyi you can get a gizmoproject version for the nokia 770..
this includes IM / voice capability.

What it is and does

Doc Searls's picture

Two quick replies.

First, its recognition of handwritten letters is surprisingly good. I've only used it so far to enter URLs, but it's much faster than tapping on the little virtual keyboard.

Second, it's not a phone. Not yet, anyway.

Doc Searls is Senior Editor of Linux Journal

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