A PDA (Personal Data Assistant) is a small, light hand-held computer used as personal organiser. All have inbuilt screens, processors and memory. Some have small keyboards, while others use a combination of stylus and touchscreen to get user input.
PDAs are increasingly threatened in the marketplace by SmartPhones, which often have similar processing and memory capabilities but offer always-on connectivity. To combat this, PDAs tend to use WiFi and Bluetooth technology for obtaining remote data. Don't be surprised if these two camps converge into one over the next two years. There is some effort toward this already, but since PDAs are usually bulkier than cellphones, there is a problem with "holding a bar of soap against my ear" syndrome.
Many manufacturers make PDAs, the pioneers being Palm and Nokia. Samsung, Hitachi, RIM and Handspring, among others, have joined the market in the last few years. More will come as PDAs gradually achieve capabilities that will be comparable to the best desktop computers of only a few years ago.
Linux compatible PDAs
Most PDA manufacturers do not consider Linux compatibility a high priority. Yet. However, Sharp's Zaurus range runs on Linux. There is a large amount of Linux-compatible software for Palm OS users, mostly because Palm has been in this game long enough for developers to write for it.
It is possible to install a version of Linux on WindowsCE based PDAs (presumably the distros listed above). However, this will almost certainly void your warranty.
To communicate and synchronize data between a PDA and Linux you can use one of these software packages (depeding on the type of PDA):
- pilot-link -- For Palm/PalmOS based PDAs
- synce -- For WindowsCE based PDAs
- For PDAs with a Linux based OS it's often possible to use common tools like SSH and FTP
- handhelds.org (www.handhelds.org)