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my Zaurus SL-C3000
pdaXng is the next generation of pdaXii13 and will be based on the EABI rather than OABI which allows mixed mode floating point emulation (ie hardfloat and softfloat) and a modern 2.6 Linux kernel instead of the old legacy 2.4.20 kernel introduced by Sharp and uLineo. The default bootloader for pdaXng will be the default Sharp bootloader rather than u-boot, which is harder to install and only used by advanced users wanting to dual-boot. Instead, altboot and kexec will be available similarly to OpenZaurus and Angstrom, but easier to use.
Another goal of pdaXng will be compatability with Debian armel (which uses EABI) and Angstrom so you can install and run Debian armel packages as well as Angstrom packages as if they were pdaXng packages. Ideally, pdaXng will be a leaner and meaner Debian with some of the Debian overheads removed, the feeds will be build optimized for xscale/armv5te rather than armv4l, and usability enhancements added so it is optimised and customized for the Zaurus. The ultimate goal is to exploit all of the Zaurus' capabilities and features so you can use your Zaurus to its full potential.
pdaXng will boot using the Sharp bootloader which reads the primary kernel from NAND and then loads the rootfs from a predefined location. These locations are defined depending on the flavour of pdaXng installed:
Once the rootfs is mounted, altboot and kexec can optionally be invoked which will allow you to chain boot another system that can either use the same kernel or even a different one altogether. The rootfs for this chained system can be located on any unused partition or can even be a loop filesystem image.
Note that only Alice will be released initially with the other flavours gradually added if there is demand for them.
Hardware Support in pdaXng:
The SL-C3000 series of Zaurii which include the SL-C3000, SL-C3100, SL-C3200 and SL-C1000 have great hardware which needs to be fully supported by the kernel. The aim of pdaXng is to provide such a kernel based on an up to date 2.6 Linux kernel with extra Zaurus specific patches where required to make a specific hardware feature work correctly.
Since the Zaurus has a Japanese keyboard layout instead of an English one, it needs to be reflected in its default config. Extra key mappings should also be added to make it more usable for applications in both portrait and landscape mode. The special keys on the keyboard as well as the keys on the back of the Zaurus should also be enabled and mapped so that applications in rotated mode can take advantage of them. Additionally, the sticky key functionality needs to be enabled by default.
The matchbox window manager is well suited for small PDA like devices, but needs a bit of customization to make it look and feel good. A complement of applets is available and should be fully customised to enhance the usability. Alternate window managers such as openbox, icewm, fluxbox and enlightenment are also available and should be easily installed and enabled.
The default language will be English. Support for other languages is provided via way of unicode fonts and input method support for entering extended characters and using a virtual keyboard. Primarily, support will be available for Asian languages in particular Chinese and Japanese.
Subsystems and Runtimes
The GUI will be X11 based running primarily GTK and Gnome based applications. QT4 can be supported also but not by default since it takes up considerable resources. Python and Perl scripts will be avoided where possible for core system services since they are interpreted languages and much slower to load than compiled code. Java support will be added as a runtime option to run Java applications. Until Sun's official opensource Java 7 is available and optimised for the Zaurus, GNU classpath and jamvm will be used as the underlying runtime environment for Java applications. GTK binding will also be enabled. In addition, Java Mobile edition emulator runtime will also be available to run Java midlets. A java plugin for a web browser to run Java applets might also be available depending on whether it can be optimized enough to run adequately on the Zaurus.
The config tools should work in GUI mode as well as command line mode and should preferably be all integrated into a single control center. The following are custom config tools for pdaXng:
pdaXng aims at utilising already existing feeds rather than building up a complete duplicate repository. Packages from Angstrom and Debian armel feeds are mostly compatible for pdaXng which will use packages from those feeds where possible. However, some packages will need to be customised to be pdaXng and Zaurus specific and need to be taken from the pdaXng feed rather from compatible feeds in order to take advantage of the Zaurus' power.
Additionally, pdaXng also has mega packages which when installed add a whole subset of predefined related packages all at once. There are three main mega packages that will install the three main flavours of pdaXng:
It is envisioned that a basic Angstrom install should be easily turned into a pdaXng system by installing the pdaxng-base mega package into Angstrom. Angstrom is build upon a sound foundation and thus a potential hacker's dream system but it lacks in the usability department for general users. This is where pdaXng improves upon Angstrom. pdaXng was not designed to compete with Angstrom but rather it is an attempt to supplement and improve in areas where Angstrom is lacking.
The following mega packages are part of pdaxng-base:
The following mega packages are part of pdaxng-full:
The following mega packages are part of pdaxng-pro:
The default pdaXng will have the basic essential tools pre-installed and configured to work right after installation. These are essential packages and included by default:
Additional applications can be added from feeds either individually or through some predefined mega bundles that contain a host of the most commonly used and best of breed applications for each category:Accessories
Multimedia - music and video players, graphics viewer and manipulation tools installed by pdaxng-multimedia and pdaxng-speech mega packages
Internet - Additional applications for accessing the web such as alternate browsers, email clients, FTP clients and IM clients. The pdaxng-web mega package installs these.
Networking - Advanced networking tools to manage and utilise common network features. The pdaxng-net mega package installs these.
Office - Productivity tools such as a word processor, spreadsheet application and dictionaries. These are included in the pdaxng-office and pdaxng-dictionary mega packages.
Games - Extra games and emulators to play even more games. These are contained in the pdaxng-games1 and pdaxng-games2 mega packages.
System Tools - These are tools to configure and customize pdaXng. They are contained in pdaxng-config mega package.
As mentioned earlier, pdaXng uses altboot and kexec for multi-booting rather than u-boot. This means it is using the original bootloader as shipped by Sharp so NAND backups and restores work as usual. When using altboot and kexec to chain boot another distro, there are a few caveats and also a few definitions are used as outlined below:
The various flavours of pdaXng and their potential abilities to multi-boot other distros are outlined and summarised below:
pdaXng Alice (MicroDrive)
pdaXng Alice is based on AngstromSpitzX11Office and runs from a rootfs located on a MicroDrive. If altboot is used, there is a potential to boot to the following:
pdaXng Sally (NAND)
pdaXng Sally is based on AngstromAkitaX11 and runs from a rootfs located on NAND. If altboot is used, there is a potential to boot to the following:
pdaXng Snoopy (SD)
pdaXng Snoopy is based on AngstromSpitzX11Office and runs from a rootfs located on SD. If altboot is used, there is a potential to boot to the following:
Multi-booting is not a priority in pdaXng. Although the capability is there, and it is intended to make it as easy as possible, time constraints will mean it will be the lowest priority and virtually no testing will be done in this area.
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