The Palm Pre, Linux, and 4G

Whiz bang gadgets and myself are usually not uttered in the same sentence.  I’m pretty basic.  I like simple desktops like XFCE and Openbox…I like plain things.  Give me bread, cheese and water and I’m a happy man.  Give me wine and I’m your friend for life :  I’ve tried to simplify in the past few years and my cell phone has always been the simplest of the simple regardless of my carrier.

When my family cell plan was set to expire this year, we had a little more excitement than we had in years past.  Afterall, phones have become small computers that house cameras, mp3 players, and fully featured calendars and applications.  I’ve been doing IT for over 10 years now and have never really worked hard at making text messaging part of my work day.  When I started my new job last year, I was suprised to see that that they used a beeper system that utilized SMS technology for on call technicians.  This meant that I could get texts when a system went down or when my expertise was needed at work.  I needed a phone that allowed me to have more options than the old standard phones I usually picked up with the plan…plus, adding texting to my basic 2 year old plan was EXPENSIVE!

After research, I found that I would go with either an iPhone or the Palm Pre.  I chose the Palm Pre for 3 reasons:

  1. Sprint has the first operational 4G network currently which is 3 to 5 times faster than 3G (go live was May 25, 2009…announced in 2006)
  2. Sprint has better overall 3G coverage than AT&T
  3. Palm Pre is Linux

After making that decision and getting my Pre…I have to tell you that I’ve never been more happier with a phone or device.  It’s a fantastic device and the app catalog hasn’t even had developer access to it yet!  I’m really looking forward at seeing what people create when the SDK is opened up and the app catalog begins to fill up.

I’ve posted a few screenshots of my Pre below…just so you know what it looks like.  I’ve posted the most important screenshot at the very bottom of the post…that’s right, Palm Pre works with a KDE4 test build of Unity Linux (duh, it is Linux).  I have NO regrets in my choice of the Pre at all.



Do you have any questions about the phone and Linux?  Want to see more?  If so, please don’t hesitate to ask in the comments section.

Author: devnet

devnet has been a project manager for a Fortune 500 company, a Unix and Linux administrator, a Technical Writer, a System Analyst, and a Systems Engineer during his 20+ years working with Technology.

17 thoughts on “The Palm Pre, Linux, and 4G”

  1. Mmm, hot. Is that last screenshot still on the Palm Pre? What resolution is that? Good choice over the iPhone, I like the OpenMoko and Android phones also.

    1. The last screenshot is actually Linux detecting and mounting the Pre as a USB device so that I could put music, movies, or pictures on it.

      That’s a HUGE reason I like it…I’d need iTunes with the iPhone and since Linux is my workhorse, I wouldn’t be able to do anything with it.

      For Linux users, the Pre really is their best bet for a smart phone.

      1. actually most modern Phones (not only smartphones) show themselves as USB mass storage device when connected with a data cable. It’s just this Apple thingy which needs everything special. (Haven’t tried BB, though)

        1. You’d be suprised…I’ve had phones with t-mobile and Verizon and neither one of them allowed me the option to connect as a USB device….they wanted to control what music I put on my phone and how.

          I had to unlock them before they were any value at all.

  2. Hi There

    This is really encouraging for me. I’m currently tied into a contract in the UK with an iPhone, I love the iPhone apart from one element – having to have iTunes to sync music/photos etc. – which to be honest is a big negative for Linux users

    I use Linux on laptop (Ubuntu) and server (Fedora via vortexbox) so I currently have a VM slice on my laptop purely for running iTunes, its slow and a pain to do the simple task of transferring my new albums onto the iPhone.

    The Palm pre looks ideal for me and it launchs in the UK in Dec which is close to my contract renewal and also on the same network as I’m currently on, so its good to see the positive experience you have had.

    How have you found the other functionality on the phone ?


  3. I have the G1 and have to say after a year of use the keyboards about to fall off and I’ve only hit 3g once or twice. I love the browser but it’s slow most of the time and the app store really hasn’t improved. I’m a linux enthusiast but I have to work on windows (so sad) and didn’t know that the Palm Pre worked so good with Linux. Does it work well with Ubuntu?

  4. Hello,

    It’s really great to see that linux Getting advance. Linux Is now getting everywhere.

    Great post. Thanks for Sharing Very Good Information.


  5. i’m looking for a phone to play yahoo games so i need java i know linux has java but can i install it on my palm pre

  6. Great smartphone.

    I wish to konw if is possible to sync calendar/contacts with Evolution or other PIM applications.

  7. what type of stripped lion would drive final cut server for fun?

    it can be done, Aperture etc.,

    how do you instal OSX on the Pre?

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