I don't think I've ever used one, but I really liked the keyboard on the Sharp PC-3100 from 1992. It came with DOS 3.3 although it could boot 5.0

The CPU is an Intel 80C88A (Immune to Meltdown :P) clocked at 10 MHz and it had 2MB RAM with 1MB ROM for built-in software. The screen is 640 x 200 monochrome, which was typical for portables (called "palmtop" computers) at the time. It's a really neat little device

@cypnk I wish someone would make something useful in that form factor today, clamshell and all.

I used to use a DS Lite as my main portable computing device. DS Linux, DSOrganize and a few other homebrew apps made it surprisingly versatile.

@rook Good news, some of the engineers behind the Psion have made a new device called the Gemini. It's Android and Linux compatible with an attached keyboard

Any word on how Linux compatible it actually is?


@RussSharek @rook Here's the specs page :

Apparently, it's an Android/Linux dual boot in some form. I'm not sure if Android is the main OS and Linux "extra", but the Cortex A72 is at least Linux compatible

@RussSharek @rook Note the fine print: "We are working hard to achieve the above technical specifications for Gemini"

Well, I'll be eagerly awaiting ;)


I just read some reviews. Looks like a really cool device, though the Linux side needs some UI love.


@RussSharek @rook Definitely some rough edges there. But I don't know much about mobile limitations so I hope that can be fixed. My fear is that it may be too "mobile friendly" to the detriment of desktop-like functionality

Would be a shame since devices are now powerful enough to match desktops from 10 years ago


No doubt. I'm still dreaming of an affordable pocket linux that's actually useable.


@RussSharek @cypnk so much more Linux in the world than anything else (excepting Minix) and it's tough to get a decent user experience out of any of it, except the one non-nerds will make fun of you for using.

@rook @cypnk

A couple of decent ncurses PIM apps and a command line strikes me as a much better set of tools than a barely working GUI plagued with glitches. For a device with a proper keyboard, it also conveniently makes sense.

@cypnk @rook

Me too. I've wanted a pocket cli writing tool for some time.

@cypnk I wouldn't be able to tolerate Android (too much incidental latency) but I could see myself using it as a Linux box. (That keyboard layout is pretty janked tho.)

@rook It's an "acquired taste" ;)

Good news is that there's now enough tech around to build your own. That's what I'm doing now, but mine is a very low power writing computer (basically, a glorified typewriter), so I'm using an ESP32. No Linux for it since it lacks a working MMU

@cypnk Yeah, I suppose I technically have 90% of the tools and materials I need already.

There are a few sins that one commits that I just can't get around. The biggest being the awkwardness of the 'enter' key. It's gotta put its center of mass in the home row or I'll miss it every time. (To me, that is more important than having the keys in any recognizable order.)

@rook If they make the keyboard just a bit longer, they could have put in a bigger Enter key

This is the current design for my DIY computer. The Enter is a little smaller than standard ANSI (which is what I'm used to), but it's still on the home row so that should keep typos to a minimum

I haven't finished the overall layout of the system yet, but it will be 285-290mm long

@cypnk @rook i ordered one. i don't have my hopes set too high, but the _concept_ is at least measurably closer to what i want than the last couple devices i've shelled out for...

@brennen @rook Let us know how it pans out. Who knows, this could bring back something of a PDA revolution since there's only so much you can do with a touch keyboard

@cypnk @rook i know enough people who badly want a device _like_ this that i pretty firmly believe we could sustain a market for it.

it remains to be seen who will first provide what that market actually wants instead of stringing us along with placebos and nearly-there-but-not-really designs, but i think someone will eventually get there. (see also: open hardware laptops, things that run linux out of the box without being over-priced trash, ...)

@ajroach42 @cypnk @rook @brennen
I'm waiting to hear some experiences with it until I decide to get one or not. I'm interested in the GPD Pocket and the Gemini. Can't wait to hear about it when you get it.

@kelbot @ajroach42 @cypnk @rook fwiw, the one person i know who ordered a gpd pocket for linux use has found it potentially cool but unusable (like "the screen is rotated the wrong way out of the box and there's no obvious fix" unusable). probably better if you want a tiny windows system, i think?

(i don't want that, but somebody must.)

@brennen @kelbot @cypnk @rook
I feel like screen rotation is something that you can actually fix in x? But I don't know the quirks of this machine, and I wouldn't want to fight with it.

@ajroach42 @brennen @kelbot @cypnk

Yeah I forgot to mention that earlier, but I'm pretty sure you can just tell X to be whatever way you want. By "pretty sure" I mean I've seen a WM or DE do it, but I've never typed out the config for it by hand.

@rook @brennen @kelbot @cypnk I've done it by hand, but it's been a few years, and sometimes stuff changes.

@ajroach42 @kelbot @cypnk @rook yeah, i imagine the problems were solvable (well, depending on what drivers may have been missing), but i think after long enough, one learns to cut one's losses with laptop-class hardware...

@cypnk Wow, looks like a awesome device! 😄 👍

Must be a great way of using DOS. It's small, portable ... and not much power consuming, I guess.

@toromino I think it ran on AA batteries like the Poqet PC, which is another one I like ;)

@cypnk I don't think I've ever seen one of those before?

I'm pretty familiar with most of the other palmtops (Atari Portfolio, HP 100(/200) LX, Poqet PC) but I don't think I've come across this one before.

TBH, DOS is pretty great. I miss having my HP LX in my pocket (but the hinge on it is going, and the battery doesn't work consistently enough for me to trust it.)

@bhtooefr @ajroach42 Yes! This is one of the best resources out there for this class of PC. Not only does it have device info, it has all sorts of interesting trivia as well as some background on the companies too

@ajroach42 @bhtooefr Page on the Tidalwave:

This is why so many palmtops look and feel similar. Tidalwave probably worked on them

@cypnk @bhtooefr You talking about the series 5? I see those for ~$75 pretty often.

@ajroach42 @bhtooefr MX :

Beware of water damage. I've seen a few sell cheap that turned out to have spills or other issues with the keyboard. Also, the ribbon cable connecting to the screen sometimes gets weak with use and has to be replaced

@cypnk @bhtooefr Oh right, I was looking at the 5, not the 5mx, because of the ribbon cable problems.

The Psions don't run DOS though right? They're on EPOC, IIRC?

@ajroach42 @bhtooefr PocketDOS does. It was ported to EPOC and it's mostly (for varying definitions of "mostly" :P) compatible with MS-DOS 6.22

I've never run it personally so I can't attest how well it would work

@cypnk Oh damn. Okay, I guess I need to do some more research.

@cypnk @bhtooefr I wasn't able to find any info on PocketDOS, but I'm seeing an emulator called XT that can apparently average PC XT speeds, but only just.

@ajroach42 @bhtooefr I just looked it up “PocketDOS” and the first result is a totally different thing :(

The software I was referring to is a boot image for DOS palmtops with EPOC listed as compatible. Maybe it went under after all these years

You may be able to get Linux on it instead:

I haven’t tried anything like this so it’s definitely “Here be Dragons” territory

@cypnk @ajroach42 Sure that's not for EPOC16 (Psion Series 3), which was x86?

@bhtooefr @ajroach42 That's a good question. I seriously doubt stock MS-DOS would, but probably another compatible version would with wider CPU support

@cypnk @ajroach42 My guess is you can run DOS, but only software that can run on a "DOS compatible", not on a PC?

@bhtooefr @ajroach42 Titles with "... and DOS compatible" somewhere in the description might work. So most games should work, but some office and productivity software probably wouldn't. Only one way to make sure ;)

@cypnk @ajroach42 "DOS compatible" basically means /nothing/ will work, except for small utilities and maybe some CP/M ports.

@cypnk @bhtooefr it is!

it's a 186 compatible!

Okay, shoot, I had knocked that one off my list of contenders because I thought it was the same CPU as the series 5, and I liked the 5 formfactor more.

Now I gotta research the the 3 some more.

@ajroach42 It belongs to the same class as the Tidalwave PS-1000. It's probably "late palmtop" in someways. Tidalwave made the hardware for a lot of these systems so they share many features (some are outright clones) with just different brand names and a few styles altered

@cypnk From what I'm reading, this looks like this was another DIP product. An update to the Atari Portfolio which was made by DIP.

Looks like it's nearly as good as the HP LX line in terms of modern compatibility too (but still far enough off to make it a pain to use.)

@cypnk I drooled over those early palm tops... I remember seeing an ad for one in a magazine, and I could think of nothing else

@iks There's an inexplicable allure to them that I don't think I've felt with any new laptop

@cypnk yes! I have been thinking about that. It's a feeling I have, but I can't quite put my finger on it.

@cypnk i didnot know they made these devices this early! i have two zaurus, which are probably the evolution of this.
@lain @cypnk I got a Zaurus from work back in 1993 or so. Did some of my first drawing there - created a logo I used on an early web site. So nostalgic...

@cypnk I had a Cassio BOSS handheld at about that time. It had a basic weakness. The keyboard on the bottom was connected to the CPU/display on top with a ribbon cable. Every time I opened or closed it, which was often, I flexed that cable. One day, while I was away from home, it failed suddenly, with no warning. It was also hard to back up, but I managed to do a backup without the keyboard, so I could buy a replacement and import my data. I still have the SE no one. Don't think it will work.

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