Developed by Palm Computing, which was originally part of U.S. Robotics and later 3Com and is now independent, the PalmOS is an operating system (OS) based on a preemptive multitasking kernel. The OS is designed for small, portable computers based on the Motorolla DragonBall processor.

PalmOS is now undergoing porting to other chipsets than the dragon ball, notably the StrongARM chips. Currently the PalmOS is chip specific for the Dragonball 68328 and 68328EZ. Nokia is developing a new HAL (see Hardware Abstraction Layer) such that PalmOS can run on their phone-like gadgets.

When this is completed, we should expect to see a speed increase of about 1000%, to start.

The main problem with PalmOS to date is the ridiculously small stack and heap space, which limits to some degree ultimate complexity. This is coupled with the fact that all programs need to be broken into 64K or less segments. This needs to be improved in the next version of the OS, or we may be stuck with a DOS situation all over again..

The main advantages to the PalmOS is that it has become a relatively stable target, unlike other PDA OS's i could name. Almost 4 years and 95% of all applications are still compatible with all ROM and hardware versions. Hell, unix can't even do that.

The other part of PalmOS that is at the same time a burden and a blessing is that everything is stored in a database... so we have databases inside databases inside databases... it's a neat idea, but I can't see how it could be very fast...

Don't get me wrong. I love my PalmV. It'll be even better with 8mb of RAM and OmniSky...

Palm OS is the operating system used on PDAs sold by Palm, IBM, Handspring, HandEra, Symbol Technologies, and Sony. It provides a simple windowing system, pen input (known as Graffiti), and HotSync desktop synchronization. It comes with some basic productivity apps including an address book, calculator, date book/calendar, expense tracker, email, memo pad, and todo list. Palm OS's key features that seperate it from the competition are it's simplicity of interface and modest hardware requirements.

Palm OS has gone through several significant revisions:

  • 1.0 was included with the original Pilot models.
  • 2.0 was introduced with the Palm Pilot Personal and Palm Pilot Professional models. It consisted of minor improvements and bug fixes, including support for 32 bit and 64 bit floating point arithmetic.
  • 3.0 was introduced with the Palm III, and all Palm III, Palm V, Palm VII, and Palm m100 models ship with a 3.x OS. 3.0 added support for user supplied fonts, added a new large font, added support for streaming files (previous versions supported random access database style files only), improved sound support (MIDI playback), support for the new IR port on all Palms including an API for beaming, and the ability to create user interfaces dynamically.
  • 3.1 added support for international character sets and added support for the EZ Dragonball processor. It also changed the character set used to the Windows-1252 code page.
  • 3.2 was minor updates plus wireless networking support for the Palm VII.
  • 3.3 had minor networking improvemnts.
  • 3.5 added support for color and improved internationalization with database overlays.
  • 4.0 was introduced with the Palm m500 and Palm m505 models. It's new features included enhanced security, support for vibrating alarms, 16 bit color support, and support for removable storage.
  • 5.0 will have support for ARM processors, higher screen resolutions, Bluetooth and 802.11b wireless support, and built-in 128-bit key RC4 encryption, plus SSL/TLS support

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