Zaurus (old)

By | July 23, 2010

The story

I have bought a Sharp Zaurus SL-C760 PDA from Dynamism Inc some time ago. It is a very nice machine, more like a miniature laptop than a PDA. It has a large (640×480) display and good keyboard. I set up the cross-compilation environment on my desktop PC and I am slowly collecting and porting software for this handheld. In most cases the “porting” is very trivial – just a recompilation is needed.

What I am still looking for

  • Nice expense tracker, something like FreeCoins for Palm. It should have a double-entry accounting. I have tried Opie Checkbook, but that is too buggy for my liking and just simple tracker, not double-entry. Jabp didn’t work for me (C760 has a different JVM than Jeode on the older 5500 series). At the moment I am using Zaif which is not perfect (e.g. no decimals support, only single-entry accounting, etc.) but it works quite well for quick expense tracking.
  • Decent IMAP-capable mail client. QtMail is unusable, because it tries to download everything from every folder each time. I am using the good old Pine and Mutt for the time being, but that is not an ideal solution.

Update: I have discovered OM/Pi. Compared to the QtMail it sort of works and supports SSL out of the box (yay!), except that the folders are messed up (why nobody seems to be able to properly support Courier IMAP??). At least it does not try to download gigabyte of mail to the handheld …

Update 2: Recent releases of Cacko ROM include a version of XFree and Sylpheed. This client is much better than both QtMail and OM/PI – recommended.

Zaurus tips

  1. I have discovered Cacko ROM for C760. It is a very nice custom English ROM, which contains also Opera, fixed Konsole with readable fonts and other goodies. On top of it, it is possible to repartition the flash and have 96MB of writable storage. Not bad, isn’t it? Cacko ROM used to be hosted here, now it is probably here (the site tends to be slow, have patience). There are two kinds of ROMs available, one for Qtopia (compatible with Sharp ROM 3.1) and an experimental X-based ROM, so be sure to select the right one!
  2. If you are looking for great replacement for the built-in PIM, get KO/Pi. It is a port of desktop KOrganizer to Qt/Embedded and it works like a charm. Syncing it with desktop is very simple. It is much better than even the tkcCalendar from TheKompany (I paid for it and regretted it later – very basic and buggy)
  3. Syncing your Zaurus with Linux. I have found a great little utility called Unison which works great. Compared to tools like rsync the main difference is that it is a two-way synchronizer, it can even merge files. It can be completely automated in such way, that whenever Zaurus is plugged in, Unison starts and synchronizes your changes automatically.

Zaurus downloads

Software Package Note
LBreakout2 lbreakout2_2.5-beta3_arm.ipk ARM port of the famous Breakout clone, from No changes were needed, compiled out of the box. You need SDL libraries to run it, though. Works on my C760 but it wasn’t tested on anything else, use at your own risk. It works only in “laptop” mode, the rotated (“pda”) mode causes it to crash.
CenterICQ centericq.gz Version 4.9.10 of this IM client, from Compiled out of the box, this is a standalone binary. Just unpack it somewhere (e.g. to /usr/local/bin) and run it. It needs ncurses 5.0 to work. If you get gibberish on the screen, try to run it “centericq -a”, so that it uses only ASCII characters. Tested with ICQ, Jabber and IRC, all work without problems. There is no SSL support for Jabber yet, I was too lazy to compile OpenSSL for Zaurus 🙂 Yahoo is broken, because of their recent protocol update. I am unable to rebuild the program, because it requires libcurl now, which is extremely difficult to cross-compile.
Mutt mutt.gz Version 1.4.1 of this MUA, from Compiled out of the box, this is a standalone binary. Just unpack it somewhere (e.g. to /usr/local/bin) and run it. It needs ncurses 5.0 to work. Compiled with support for IMAP and POP, no SSL, though. Use stunnel, if necessary. Do not forget to install some MTA too, e.g. Nullmailer, to be able to send mail.
Nullmailer nullmailer-1.01-patched-arm.tar.gz Version 1.01 of this MTA, from Compiled out of the box, this is a standalone binary. This release includes plain text SMTP AUTH. Just unpack it in the root directory, it will go into /usr/local/nullmail. Then create an user nullmail and change the ownership of the files to it. Do not forget to set mailq and nullmailer-queue SUID to the user nullmail, otherwise it will not work. For configuration and documentation, go to the original web site.
fortune-mod fortune-mod_1.0.31_arm.ipk Version 1.0.31 of the popular fortune cookie program. The executable is in /usr/local/games/fortune. Compiled out of the box, with little Makefile tweaking. The source was taken from the Mandriva Linux SRPM (fortune-mod-1.0-31mdk.src.rpm). Contains also rot, strfile and unstr utilities.
ZSH zsh_4.1.1_arm.ipk Version 4.1.1 of Z Shell. The sources are from It needs a small hack in the configure script to compile. Packaged without documentation.
OTRPlayer 3.0 for C7×0 otrplayer_3.0-c7x0_arm.ipk madplay_0.14.2b_arm.ipk Version 3.0 of Old Time Radio Player. The sources are from, they are accessible from CVS. I replaced the standard otrplayerbase.ui file with this one and then recompiled. It runs fine in the 640×480 resolution now.

2 thoughts on “Zaurus (old)

  1. Mark

    Nice work thanks. Are there any tutorials available on how to compile software for the Zaurus ? I’m envious of you guys who know how to port programs and write programs.

    1. Jan Post author

      Given that the Zaurus is 20 years old today (and the article is almost as old), I don’t think you will be able to find much, probably not even a toolchain that would work on that CPU anymore.


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