back to article PumpkinOS carves out a FOSS PalmOS-compatible runtime environment

PumpkinOS is a somewhat usable runtime environment that can run some Palm apps on top of Windows or Linux, without using or needing real PalmOS. PumpkinOS is not exactly a FOSS re-implementation of PalmOS, but it's something in that general direction. In some ways it's akin to the recreated Amiga OS AROS – a clean Free …

  1. Lee D Silver badge

    My parents still have Palm TX devices, which they use to play Bookworm on.

    I've slowly got them over to Steam Decks and the x86 versions, though.

  2. Zippy´s Sausage Factory

    Palms running Symbian? I'd have got one. I loved my Psion and nothing has been more user friendly, or useful, since. The iPhone basically combines all the bits into a phone but it's still clunky by comparison.

    1. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      It could have been a game-changer.

      Symbian's big problem was UI.

      Externally, for users, there were multiple incompatible ones: S60, S90, UIQ, etc.

      Internally, for developers, I'm told, it was even worse: there were multiple different programming models, some aimed at C++, some at Java, some using FOSS widgets, some using proprietary widgets, some using in-house widgets...

      Palm could have imposed some UI sanity on this.

      Meanwhile Palm would have got a native Arm kernel with excellent multitasking etc.

  3. Philip Storry

    A superb platform

    I still occasionally miss my Palm devices.

    I think my last one was a Tungsten III. A great device.

    It was a great platform. It did just enough as an OS, and had a great interface which many seem to have since "been inspired by"... even if they'd never admit it.

    But what I miss more was the software. Being mostly disconnected meant that the focus for developers was different. I had entire database systems on my Palm - I think the one I used most was called ThinkDB - so could build my own little solutions. It was superb. Not too expensive either.

    With a smartphone that's always on, the incentive is to keep everything online and then get you subscribed to cover the costs of hosting and development. And whilst each individual solution might be a bit slicker and a little bit better, I miss the flexibility. The Palm felt like a perfect halfway mark between only-at-the-desk and access-from-anywhere.

    I know it's partly rose-tinted glasses, but the fact that I was doing things on my Palm 15 years ago that I can barely do today says such a lot to me.

    But then again, I've changed the way I'd solve those problems, and the world has moved on. I wouldn't go back.

    But I would like to see some people be "inspired by" Palm OS a bit more...

  4. David M

    Still alive

    I still use my Palm T|X. And sync it to linux with pilot-xfer.

  5. Blackjack Silver badge

    Palms running Symbian would have been cool.

    The only PDA I ever used was a Psion Series 3a and it was really cool for the time, the battery life was great. Unfortunately customs and taxes meanr I couldn't take it home with me, I had to chose it or the Gameboy and the Gameboy won. Not that I regret it, As a kid in the 90s a Brick Gameboy was cool.

    1. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      [Author here]

      Where's "home"?

      I loved my 3A and never was tempted by Palms myself, but most of my friends actively preferred them.

      1. Blackjack Silver badge


        Customs and taxes nowadays is like ten times worse.

  6. Management Order

    Ive still got my Palm Vx

    My Palm Vx still kind of works, in that it will operate when in the cradle, but the battery is dead so as soon as you take it out of the cradle everything is forgotten and you have to set it up and recalibrate the screen etc all over again. Last time I tried it the screen seemed only partially responsive too, so its probably on its last legs.

    1. PRR Silver badge

      Re: Ive still got my Palm Vx

      > the battery is dead so as soon as you take it out of the cradle everything is forgotten

      Last time I had a Palm, there were lots of replacement battery kits, complete with the funny screwdriver to open the cases. If you can work a screwdriver it is trivial. I don't know if that stuff is still available, or if you get fresh batts or stale ones from 2009.

      EDIT-- your Vx seems to be difficult. Glue! sells a battery for $13 but not clear if DIY or a depot service. Says there are other reasons for batt trouble (tho I assume a long-neglected battery needs replacing IAC)

  7. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

    Palm Treo 650 here

    I kept it going as my main phone for many years, only switching to an Android device around 2011.

    It really was usable in a way that I struggle with newer phones.

    When the iPhone came out, I proudly proclaimed that I had a smart phone long before the iphone came out. And I could do most things that we now take for granted, such as downloadable apps, audio and video playback, GPS route planning (I bought TomTom for it), a camera (sort of - it was a bit crap), although Internet access was slow and clunky using it as a data-modem, and was not really the internet proper.

    I tried finding a SIM that would work in it a few years ago. It's 2G only, and it would not identify any of the SIMs that I tried.

    It's still in the drawer beside me. I sometimes get it out to look at fondly. And I still use Graffiti for input on my Android phone (it's in the Google Play store).

  8. Sleep deprived
    Thumb Up

    A much capable unbloated OS

    In 2002, I started developing on PalmOS what became the first mobile app for cave surveying (Auriga), used by hundreds of cavers worldwide. Even a 16 MHz Palm IIIxe could execute the myriad of trigonometric operations necessary to render the cave map on screen. At the last PalmSource conference, in 2004, out of 900 participants, I was the only freeware writer. 20 years later, the app still has some hardcore users who enjoy its GPS tracking (on surface), KML maps, Bluetooth link to instruments, vector sketching, loop closure, import/export from/to various data formats, etc. for a 1.3 Mb executable, the size of a flashlight app on Android. Most people run it on a PDA, but others use their Android phone or tablet with the StyleTap emulator.

  9. Tanooki2020

    Speaking of PalmOS, I had a couple of the best computing devices, the Sony UX-50, and my all time favorite (which unfortunately did not last on marketplace) the Tapwave Zodiac 2, my absolute favorite for playing games. I just love how it contained an ATi graphics adapter for PalmOS gaming.

    I used to play Stunt Runner, Bike or Die, Duke Nukem 3D, Shadow Warrior, Xploids, and so many more games on the Zodiac 2.

    I was really seriously bummed out when Tapwave only lasted for 2 years and then went under back in 2005.

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