Customizing the Zaurus C860
For the impatient: if you decide to use pdaXrom, you should at least read
about SD Cards, Wake Up Problems and Modem and Dialup. It will save you a
lot of trouble! Also: this page is based on pdaXrom 1.0.0. Newer
versions are out, I will have to try them myself (but am hesitant to
change from a working system to the next).
Carrying around 4 kg of computer equipment every day did not look to
me like real mobility. So I finally bought a Sharp Zaurus C860 from
Dynamism. It was really worth it. Now, one problem emerged right away.
The software from Dynamism is not really useful, even though you
can download a lot of extra software from
I am using LaTeX and the backslash comes out as "Yen". At Dynamism
I was told that there is nothing one can do. However, there is
a solution. There are alternatives from Opie and Cacko. I tried
the latter and didn't resent it.
Where To Get pdaXrom and Software
Go to pdaXrom.
Download their flash ROM and do as they say. Basically,
you need to do the following: install the three files on
a Flash Card (or whatever), put off the computer, plug the
AC cord, take out the battery for 5 seconds, put in the
battery, the flash card, and press OK, and hold the OK key
while turning the machine on. You will get a boot menu.
Follow the instructions on the site. Then you will have
installed a raw system. It has barely anything, but the
site above provides some very useful software: I downloaded
- the complete vim (vim, vim-doc, vim-syntax)
- Rox (filemanager)
- Xpdf (pdf-viewer)
However, what I really also needed was ... LaTeX! And, sure
enough, someone has already done it (http://users.ox.ac.uk/~umiv0103/z-text).
I shall give you an adapted rundown of what that website says
(or click here
for be forwarded):
- The download version takes about 9Mb of space. You will need more if you
send the files to the Zaurus and unzip/tar them there, so if space is pressing
extract them on your desktop and ftp them across.
- There is no distinction between texmf and "local" texmf. It's all
in one blob.
- This only includes the cm fonts, nothing else. It's easy to add more.
But only type 1 fonts seem to have any hope of being visible to opera/qpdf,
and this texmf doesn't include stuff needed for metafont so the dvi->pdf stage
will fail miserably if you use others.
- In order to use txfonts, you need to add all the necessary fonts,
get hold of txr3.map and add to dvipdfm/config the line "f txr3.map"
at the end. This will make sure dvipdfm will find the proper fonts.
- You can use metafont. If you have a tex-installation somewhere,
copy the commands in web2c into directory web2c inside $TEXFM.
Also, additional fonts may be installed (just copy the tfm files
into an analogous directory; dito with style files).
(Metafont apparently requires awk, but the padxrom has it installed.)
LateX Installation Instructions
That's it (the fmt files are there). Decide where to put your tex
files, latex and dvipdfm them, then move the results pdf into
Documents/application/pdf for viewing.
- Download texmf.tar.gz
and extract the files to wherever you want your texmf tree to go.
(I put my texmf tree on my secure digital card so I put it in /mnt/card/texmf).
- Download lib.tar.gz and extract it to
somewhere where libs go, e.g. /usr/lib.
- Download bin.tar.gz and extract it to
somewhere where binaries go, e.g. /usr/bin (or create /usr/bin/tex
and add that to the path). If space is short, you only seem to need
the files "tex" and "dvipdfm".
♠ Make a link from latex to tex in the same directory.
♠ chmod +x those binaries.
Finally, download texmf_cnf.tar.gz, extract it
to somewhere where texmf.cnf can be found by the tex programs, say /usr/bin.
- Edit the TEXMFMAIN= line in texmf.cnf to wherever your texmf tree went.
(Also some other adaptations need to be made.)
Now, so far the first installation. I did this on my Zaurus, and since I have
pdaXrom and it has awk on it, Metafont worked fine. Moreover, if you need extra
styles or stuff, just copy what you need from your main machine into an analogous
place on your tex-directory (you can put things anywhere in the tex-directory,
but at some point you will appreciate that the place is the same on both machines!).
Here is, however, a problem: how do you get dingbats? They do not come
out on the xpdf. The solution is as follows. Look for /usr/etc. In the
file xpdfrc and look up the line
#displayFontT1 ZapfDingbats /usr/local/share/ghostscript/fonts/d050000l.pfb
It tells you the name of the font. When you invoke xpdf it looks in the named
places for files ending in .pfb. The places are stored in xpdfrc. The simplest
way is to look up that font on your main machine (on mine I found it in
/usr/share/ghostscript/fonts/). Copy the file d050000l.pfb from your
laptop (or wherever you found it) into a suitable place on your zaurus and edit
the path of that line. Uncomment the line (erase `#' at the beginning). You are
There are additional problems for which I have a solution. One is the
miniature fonts. They are not reallt readable for me. For the xterm I open a window
with the command "xterm -fa Helvetica\ 14" (the backslash is no error). This gives
me a screen with a much better font, and only slightly oversize. (Also,
the number 1 and the letter l are better to distinguish.)
I promise to find out how to change that and to make this a default.
The next thing to fix is the font for vi. Edit a file .vimrc and
put in the following lines:
:set guifont=Courier\ New\ 16
When you use gvim, it will now display everything in a larger font, and
do syntax highlighting. The vim manual tells you everything about
fonts, needless to say that you can put in other ones according to
taste. (I found the one above the most pleasant.)
:colors [Choose from the Colour Menu what you like and put the name here]
You can also use an infrared keyboard, since the machine has an IrDA
port. I used the Targus, since for this one there is actually
software: goto this webpage
or download the software here.
You can even run OCaML. It is quite fast. All you need is to install
the following packages: ocaml-base
and ocaml. This runs OCaML 3.04.
The package has been compiled for the ARM architecture under Debian,
and then packed for the pdaxrom. The 3.07 version needs glibc-3.3,
and this is (not yet) provided under the pdaxrom 1.0.5 (which I have).
(BTW the file /etc/issue says the version is 1.0.0, but that's a mistake.
It's easy to fix, just edit it.) My programs (made for OCaML 3.06) run
ATerm and Settings
xterm has a scrollbar but it does not work properly. It is better
to use aterm. You can change
the settings in .Xdefaults. Mine are as follows:
! --- Aterm settings ----
! Aterm*tinting: true
! Aterm*fading: 30
If you want to start aterm from the
desktop you have to change /usr/bin/mb-xterm-applet-wrapper.sh;
where it says "xterm" you need to put in "aterm -geometry 68X25".
(The geometry is your choice, I have made the size big enough that
it still fist the screen.) Moreover, if you like the same style of
apperance, you need to change also /usr/bin/mb-aterm-wrapper.sh to
contain only the lines
aterm -geometry 68X25
Modem and Dialup
The pdaxrom page says that the dialer needs testing. Indeed it does not
always work. I use a socketcom 56 k modem CF card. To operate it, you have to
change a few details in the PPP modem configuration. My card appears as
/dev/ttyS3, so you need to put that into Dialup->Modem->Device. Moreover,
the init string is
Tick "hardware flow control". In principle that should do it, but
unfortunately not always. I have found that some commercial providers
work fine with the original setting, but BOL for example does not.
Some ingenuity is required. You have to edit a file
/etc/ppp/peers/my-peer. The secret lies
what you say after connect. Here is what I wrote for BOL (UCLA):
connect '/usr/sbin/chat -s -v ABORT "NO CARRIER" ABORT "NO DIALTONE"
ABORT "BUSY" "" "AT&F" OK "ATDTthe number to dial" CONNECT
"" "Username:" my username "Password:" my password
"ine>" ppp ""'
The secret is that the dialer does not wait for the other connection
to come up with requests it just throws the data at the receiving
modem. This does not always work, so you have to force the dialer to
wait for an answer. In my case, BOL responds with something like
"Welcome to Bruin Online", which is caught by the double quotes
after CONNECT. Next BOL issues the line "Username:". Other providers,
other prompts, so you have to experiment. Now my username is offered.
Next BOL prompts with "Password:" and gets the password. Finally, it
gives the dialer a prompt that ends in "ine>", after which the
dialer may issue "ppp", and get the pp connection established.
Networking and Wireless
I use a wireless card, and it works perfectly. I get access to the network.
However, UCLA requires to use VPN, and this works without problems only
with Microsoft. However, it accepts ssh. So here is my solution. I have a
laptop, into which I can ssh. Now, I made it a DNS-server, and installed
squid (proxy server). It is important to modify http_access so that squid
does not refuse your request. Next, configure firefox on the zaurus for
manual proxy and say:
HTTP server: 127.0.0.1 Port 80
On my laptop I added 127.0.0.1 as a nameserver (and added under
dns_nameservers the IP 127.0.0.1 in squid.conf because squid would
otherwise not find anything). Finally, for Sylpheed I also asked
to check and send mail with localhost. Finally, the following does
FTP server: 127.0.0.1 Port 80
ssh -l <username> -L25:<sendmailserver>:25 -L110:<receivemailserver>:110
(Comment: commonly, email is sent through Port 25, and this is the same
with sylpheed and our email server; it is received through Port 110.
Finally, squid listens by default to Port 3128, while Firefox sends out
its requests to Port 80. From this you should be able to work out your
own solution.) After authentification I can read and send email (via
Sylpheed) and browse (via Firefox).
Repartitioning SD Cards
Installing packages on your SD card can fail to work. Probably it is
because they come with FAT16 partition and you need to reformat them
before you use them. Do the following.
- umount /mnt/card
- fdisk /dev/mmcda1
After that your card should be ready to be used.
- after the prompt: p (to see what partition is there)
- after the prompt: d (if applicable, to remove the existing partition)
- after the prompt: 1 (for the number of the partition)
- after the prompt: n (to create a new partition)
- after the prompt: p (to make it primary)
- after the prompt: 1 (chooses partition #1)
- after the prompt: (to choose default start at 1)
- after the prompt: (to use the default end sector)
- after the prompt: v (to verify the partition)
- after the prompt: t (to change the partition type)
- after the prompt: 1 (select partition #1)
- after the prompt: 83 (selects ext2)
- after the prompt: w (writes the partition and the program exits)
Wake Up Problem
Often I had the problem that the zaurus freezes. This means that you
have to open the lid, remove the battery for 5 seconds, put it back
in and reboot. I used the following advice. Edit the file
/usr/X11R6/bin/startx by adding at the end:
It did the trick so far.
The Zaurus is at present the only computer of mine that works
flawlessly. The software needed a little care in the beginning,
but when it was set up it worked perfectly. I travelled with
only the zaurus and was able to read and send email either through
the phone or through the wireless. I recommend as email client
Thunderbird, even though it is slower. The features to deal with
spam mail are worth it! After a while you can just tell Thunderbird
to get rid of all trash rather than you having to hand pick it.
Also, the functionality is much better (attachments etc). The
same goes for Firefox versus Konqueror and Dillo. I downloaded
the versions from May, and Firefox is the only one that can deal
with restricted access. If you want to pay bills online you will
appreciate. I like Vim, and I get all I need. Abiword did not
perform well, so perhaps I should try a newer version. I tried
to install TextMaker, but their version is not for the pdaxrom,
as I found out. Rox is nice, but I do not need it that much.
I have downloaded a lot of software so that I keep it even when it
goes off the main site. Click here
to be taken to the list of software available here.