The Cranky Sysadmin A world of technology, fun, and ignorant rants.

September 7, 2009

Tiny Linux Boxes

Filed under: Mobile Technology,System Administration — Cranky Sysadmin @ 11:07 am

While cleaning out my um…. home office storage area (closet in the guest room) I came across a couple of gems which I had forgotten about, two Sharp Zauruses (Zauri?). One is a fairly old SL-5500. The other is a slightly less old SL-C3000.

Both of these little devices run linux. In the past I’ve used the compiler and perl, so I know they aren’t too dumbed down. They also can pass as small web servers. Wikipedia has a writeup on the zaurus in general. It also has links to various mostly out of date operating systems for it. Angstrom seems to be the most up to date distribution. The last package updates seem to be from late 2008. At the time of this writing, the angstrom link is broken, but it worked a couple of days ago. Hopefully, the outage is temporary.

I won’t go into a full review of the Zaurus. I can tell you why they are interesting for me. Here is the list.

  • The zaurus has a functioning keyboard that even I can use with my huge gorilla hands.
  • They have a CF slot, an SD slot, and the SL-C300 has a USB port for expansion. The CF slot can accommodate wifi and other peripheral cards.
  • They run linux out of box, and there are several alternatives if you don’t like the built-in distribution.
  • They are small and lightweight, even compared to my Sony Vaio UX280P.

I’m a little sad that Sharp has stopped making and supporting the Zaurus. If I had the time, I’d take on the project of updating one of the distributions. For now, I’ll just install something and see if I can find a good use for them. Here are some pictures.

This is the Zaurus SL-5500. The quarter next to it is for size reference. The bottom piece with the OK botton slides up to hide the keyboard.


The SL-C3000 is a “clam shell” style PDA. The one pictured has a compact flash Wifi card in the right side.


This is the SL-C3000 in “portrait mode. The Screen flips around and hides the keyboard.


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