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A Closer Look at Linux PDAs

by Derrick Story

Why would someone prefer having Linux installed on their PDA instead of Palm OS or Pocket PC? The most common response from Linux PDA fans is that the control, power, and multitasking abilities associated with the Linux OS are desirable features for a handheld computer. Plus, there's a certain comfort in having the same OS running on your handheld as on your desktop.

At O'Reilly Network, we decided to take an in-depth look at three of the top contenders in the Linux PDA race, and make our findings available to readers who might be considering such a purchase. Because we were striving for consistency from report to report, we decided that one author should review all three devices: the Agenda VR3, the iPAQ, and the YOPY.

We also felt that the reviewer should have a solid working knowledge of the Linux operating system so he could provide clear explanations of what was happening under the hood of all these devices. For those reasons, we asked veteran Linux technology writer, Chris Halsall, to pen all three of the reviews.

We are happy with the outcome. The articles are interesting, informative, and technically solid.

If you're considering a Linux handheld, here's our package of articles that will most likely answer your questions and help you choose the right device.

Linux on an iPAQ
You may not realize that there are a number of Linux installations available for the Compaq iPAQ handheld computer. Chris Halsall reviews the various distributions and walks you through the reconfiguration process.

The Agenda VR3: Real Linux in a PDA
If you're after a simple PDA to handle this week's appointments, then the Agenda probably isn't for you. But if you want a PDA that runs X Windows and has a Terminal window, you should check out this device.

Bootstrapping the YOPY PDA
The consumer version of G.Mate's all-Linux YOPY PDA may be one of the most anticipated technology events since the delivery of Netscape 6. Will the YOPY be worth the wait, or has the Agenda VR and the Linux iPAQ stolen its thunder?

Derrick Story is the author of The Photoshop CS4 Companion for Photographers, The Digital Photography Companion, and Digital Photography Hacks, and coauthor of iPhoto: The Missing Manual, with David Pogue. You can follow him on Twitter or visit

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