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Rugged PDA gains Linux option

Nov 30, 2005 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 17 views

An embedded software specialist has ported Linux to a rugged PDA targeting military, transportation, industrial, and public service applications. SDG Systems will resell the Tripod Data Systems “Recon” PDA pre-installed with Linux. Early customers include 10East, a vertical-market software company serving the railroad industry.

(Click for larger view of SDG's “Linux Recon”)

10East announced in April that had contracted SDG to port Linux to the device. 10East in the past has offered its customers Sharp's Linux/Qtopia based Zaurus SL-6000L, but says customers have expressed interest in more a more ruggedized hardware platform.

TDS's Recon was introduced in October of 2003, running Windows CE. The device is powered by an Intel XScale PXA2xx processor, and was designed for all-day outdoor operation, SDG says, with a “huge” 3,800 mAh rechargeable NiMH battery. The Recon meets MIL-STD-810F military standards for drop, vibration, and temperature extremes, and has an IP67 rating for water and dust impermeability.

SDG's Linux implementation for its “Linux Recon” product is based on a 2.6.12-series Linux kernel. The device's user interface is based on Qtopia PDA Edition version 2.1.2. The filesystem and GNU/Linux utilities are based on version 0.8.2 of the Familiar Linux distribution.

The device weighs 17 ounces, including “rechargable PowerBoot,” and has widely-spaced buttons, a bright, sunlight-readable TFT reflective color display, and a comfortable grip. It measures 6.5 x 3.75 x 1.75 inches (16.5 x 9.5 x 4.5 cm).

Two models of the Linux Recon are offered — the Recon 200, with a 200 MHz PXA255 processor, 64 MB of RAM, and 64 MB of flash memory; and the Recon 400, with a 400 MHz PXA255 processor, 64 MB of RAM, and 128 MB of flash. Both include two CompactFlash slots for expansion.

SDG President Todd Blumer stated, “We are confident that the [Linux Recon] will be deployed in military, public service, industrial, and other markets.”

10East VP Mike Wilson added, ” The Recon exemplifies 'rugged,' and high-quality TDS products have proved themselves in other demanding industries.”


The Linux Recon 200 and 400 sell for $1299 and $1599, respectively. Both models are available now, in green, yellow, or gray. C++ and Python developers kit are also available.

Optional accessories include:

  • Carry Case
  • Deluxe case with belt clip and neck strap
  • Stylus lanyard
  • Serial interface cable
  • 12V DC vehicle charging cable
  • Extended CF-Cap
  • Barcode CF-Cap

A GPE (Gnome/Gtk) user interface option is also planned, SDG says.

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