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Adventures with a SUSE Linux-Powered OQO Palmtop - page 3

SUSE in the Palm of Your Hand

  • April 28, 2006
  • By Rob Reilly

I'm happy to report that the SUSE powered OQO worked reliably during my testing period. Battery life was comparable to a regular laptop. On the thin battery (3/8th. inch thickness) I ran the OQO for about two hours, during a trip into town. The D-Link adapter was plugged in and 29% power remained, upon returning home.

At the conference, the palmtop ran for about eight hours on the thick battery (1/2 inch thickness). Part of that time was spent in sleep mode, with and without the USB WiFi adapter attached. At the end of the day, the battery was nearly drained. Sliding the tablet closed helped battery life, because it turned off the screen backlight.

I also put my grocery list on the OQO and trudged off to the market, with my kids. Real geeks know that getting through the store is much faster using an aisle sorted list of food items. Using a list also nearly eliminates impulse buying induced, kid selected junk food. The OQO worked pretty well, using OOo Calc. It was convenient to check items off using the down arrow key and an "x" character. The downside was that I was worried that I would drop the $2100 machine while grabbing boxes of spaghetti and cans of green beans. Compared to using my iPAQ, it was a little awkward for this task. It's something to consider, when evaluating the unit for field use.

You'll definitely want to set the networking scripts correctly, to bring up the D-Link USB card automatically. Restarting with rcnetwork or ifup is a pain, because a root login is required, followed by the command line typing.

Connecting to a commercial WiFi access point was frustrating. While at the Logan airport in Boston, I tried to connect using my Earthlink user name and password, through Boingo. Boingo will let you on, using a long string attached to your Earthlink account. My account works at Barnes & Noble, some Starbucks, and a few other pay WiFi places. It was absolutely no-go on Logan's network. After 15 minutes of trying different combinations of never ending login strings I finally gave up. It wasn't a reflection of the OQO's performance, just that typing can be a bit of an effort.

The OQO worked fine on the complementary in-hotel WiFi network and at the convention center. Hardware boot up into Linux usually took about a minute. Not surprisingly, starting KDE and OpenOffice.org took another minute or two, as well. Making WiFi connect sometimes required an ifup wlan0 and 30 seconds or so.

Carrying around the Linux powered OQO at LinuxWorld was fun. Reactions ranged from people just standing and intently examining the machine to "that's really cool". Several people actually wanted to know what it was...while it was still in it's carrying case!

Talk about a conversation ice breaker, this thing was it.

Just for fun, I tried running Apache on the little machine. Since I had chosen just the default system build, Apache had not been installed. No problem, I started the NFS server on my HP laptop and the NFS client on the OQO, then installed from the SUSE 10.0 DVD. You might want to mount the DVD on the server to the target /dvd mount point first before starting the server. Apache2 loaded and then I was able to start it up under the network services tab (start HTTP server) of YAST.

Using the OQO's IP address, I was able to view it's Web pages on my HP laptop. The OQO running a Web server would be very useful in remote locations, when power is at a premium. You could also put MySQL on it and develop some very portable applications, possibly with other Linux laptops, Nokia 770s, or WiFi enabled iPAQs as clients. For that matter a big USB 2.0 external drive could be plugged in for lots of storage. Sales, inventory, and maintenance type programs all come to mind.

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