The RAM/ROM PDA problem

I’ve got a number of mobile devices and PocketPC is the best of all in terms of usability and stability. Don’t get too hyped up though, Windows Mobile is as stable as Win98SE is: that is, not very much. Thing is though, PalmOS is like Mac OS 8.1, so that makes PocketPC miles better. In the country of the blind men, the one-eyed person rules. šŸ˜‰

And before you say it, yes, I have seen the Sharp Zaurus crashed, spat up to the… command line, and frozen. Also, Qtopia is so ugly that I can’t stand it anyway (I ran it on my desktop, I went through hell to compile it a few weeks ago as it requires old versions of Qt).

The only thing I really don’t like from Windows Mobile is that it’s too much like the real Windows. It freely allows its developers to put crap on its \\Windows directory, and guess what, these developers do. I went and deleted a bunch of useless duplicated crap that apps put in there, including the whole Netfront 3.1 help files (in html) and bitmaps all tossed in the windows directory even if Netfront was installed on my CF card. Stupid developers. >:(

I wouldn’t this mind much if PDAs didn’t have memory limitations, but they do. When I bought my PDA I had ~51 MBs free RAM for program/data storage. Now, even after having installed stuff only on my external CF & SD cards, the RAM allowance is down to 40 MBs. And I only have my PDA for less than 3 months, if I continue installing apps on my 1 GB SD card (there’s a lot of space there), I will be out of RAM soon.

The whole model of unified RAM/ROM is just flawed. And PalmOS is even worse that WinCE, as it does not allow you to place programs on the storage cards, everything must be installed in the main RAM (only data are allowed on the SD/MS cards). PalmOS 6 solves the problem, but no one wants to sell PalmOS 6 because of backwards compatibility problems with legacy palmos apps and because manufacturers don’t want to alienate their existing devs by learning new APIs.

I am not sure how Linux works in the RAM/ROM situation though. Hopefully, it loads from a storage place to RAM and it cleans up the RAM each time is resetted (just like in a real PC). That would be really nice for users. Problem is, it’s not the cheapest way for manufacturers to do and that’s why we are stuck with such inconveniences and crappy designs.

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