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NetBSD and Handheld Platforms


Alistair Crooks, Valeriy Ushakov


NetBSD has long been known for its portability to other platforms.
The lower end of this range of platforms has included thin clients,
and, most recently, handheld PCs. These machines are typically
powered by a low-power CPU, and have smaller LCD screens than a
laptop, and consequently dissipate less power. These machines usually
use a touchscreen and a pen for a pointing device, can run for nearly a day
on battery power only, and come with some version of Windows in ROM
for an operating system.

This paper discusses a number of issues related to porting NetBSD to
H/PCs - the challenges, the porting abstractions already present in
NetBSD, and the parts which are needed, including the subsystems still
to be written. It contrasts the various handheld PC devices on the
market, and looks at Linux support for these devices, as well as
Windows and NetBSD. It also looks at the challenges of handheld and
pocket PCs, from fitting a graphical browser onto a limited size LCD
screen, to window managers designed for mouse-equipped environments,
to user interface issues when no keyboard is present.

Finally, it looks to the future, and discusses what the ultimate geek
gadget PDA would be.





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