I've used for several years now a Sony Clié PEG-T625C (operated by PalmOS), connecting it successfully to my GNU/Linux Desktop (Debian) through USB, and making backup / synchronizing my agenda and contacts with JPilot.

For almost a year now, I've decided to switch to a new Linux-operated PDA. I choosed a Sharp Zaurus SL-C1000 (which I bought through a German importer since this kind of toy is only sold by Sharp in Japan). I wanted mainly to be able to hack on the essential tools I keep in my pocket.

The OS factory-installed by Sharp is not really that free/libre... and in a way almost no better in this respect than Palm OS :( So I've been interested in OpenZaurus, which looks more like a regular GNU/Linux Distribution, and which allows me to have almost full control on the contents of my machine. I've indeed setup a build environment for OpenEmbedded (which is used to generate OpenZaurus, or also Familiar, used on IPaQs), and have helped test the whole process, and eventually produced a couple usefull reports which were corrected by developpers. Traditional libre software user/developper interaction and co-development, in a way ;)

I've preferred the GPE environment flavour of OpenZaurus (which also comes with OPIE), maybe since I'm using Gnome on my Debian deskops or laptops and not KDE ?

I've then tried and test some GPE applications which I intend to use on the Zaurus, like gpe-contacts. I've discovered a few annoying bugs in this program, and have submitted some corrections to the authors which have later been integrated in GPE and OpenZaurus (cool !). This was quite easy since GPE applications can easily be built and run on a Desktop machine, which is much easier for tests/debug during development. (For those curious, the fixes were on handling of subcomponents of names, some internatialisation issues, and better imports of address-books, the latter residing in libmimedir, a gnome library, and not in gpe-contacts itself). I'm proud my contribution is included in GPE 2.7 just released, and probably soon in the OpenZaurus 3.5.4 release (which may not be totally supporting the SL-C1000 aka akita machines).

In the meantime, I've kept on using my Clié. Anyway, now is probably the time for planing a more serious operation : really switching to Zaurus. It means I don't want to loose my data (contacts, appointments, mainly). But this requires careful thinking first ;)

I'll describe the migrations plans, and associated speculations in next posts. Stay tuned.