Note: I have abandoned the Palm line for Android.  The information below is retained for posterity… but isn’t very useful.


I have been using Treos since they were released. As I have upgraded from the Treo 180 to my current Treo 650, I have learned much. Here I share some of my knowledge from basic applications that should be installed to how to deal with specific problems using a Treo with Linux.

Basic Software

  • When I used the Treo 600, I became used to using Floating Events in the calendar application, and missed it when I moved to the 650. Luckilly, Datebook6 (commercial) allows me to add this functionality. Additionally, I can use small fonts with this application and integrate it against the TODO database. This allows me to see twice as much on the screen as I could on the 600, so I find myself using it far more often than I used to.
  • I often use my Treo to read ebooks. There are two applications for this. First of all, TealDoc (commercial) is better than the built-in document reader as it allows you to better search and index your documents. However, if you need to view web pages and the like offline, than I recommend using Plucker (free). As a bonus, this also allows you to access most of the free books on Project Gutenberg.
  • If you use your Treo as often as I do, you often wind up with important data on it. The old way that people used to back this up was a sync to your workstation. However, that means that when you’re on the road, you often can’t get good backups. Additionally, it’s a manual process, which can too easilly be forgotten. Luckily, backupbuddyVFS (commercial) can automatically back your data up to the Treo’s SD cards. I just change cards regularly, and the backups keep on going. Best of all, if you’re going to be doing something risky, you can make a checkpoint, and be able to restore to that point in time.
  • Surprisingly for a device with a wide touchscreen, the Treo does not come with a sketch application. However, that’s where DiddleBug (free) comes in. It’s not a spectacular drawing application, but if you need to take a quick note or sketch out a map, it certainly fits the bill.
  • Also surprisingly, for a device that has a built in microphone and speaker, the Treo comes with no voice recorder. Good thing there is SoundRec (free). Just be sure to take your phone off of “quiet mode” before you try to play things back.
  • Since the Treo can connect to the Internet (if you have that package with your phone), it’s awfully useful to use Directory Assistant (optionally commercial), which integrates with Yahoo to allow you to search for addresses and phone numbers. This app has kept me from being lost many a time.
  • Many phones come with voice dialing these days. The Treo has it as an add on. Treo Voice Dialing (commercial) is amazing in that it requires no training and works right out of the box. It can also launch applications for you. However, it does not work through Bluetooth, so I chose to not buy it.
  • Two small tweaks that you might like are LEDOff (free), which allows you to configure that annoying blinking LED. BrightCam (free) is interesting in that it automatically adjust the screen brightness based on the amount of ambient light detected by the camera. In other words, when you’re in a dark room, the screen is dim, but in the sun, the screen lights up to maximum.

Advanced Software

I do not recommend installing this software unless you really know what you’re doing. However, they are quite powerful.

  • If you ever need to really dig into the guts of your Treo, FileZ (free) allows you to directly access your files, and RsrcEdit (commercial) allows you to modify them to your heart’s content.
  • To remotely access Linux servers, you can do so with ssh clients:TuSSH (optionally commercial) and pssh (free).
  • If you often use IRC for technical support, UpIRC (commercial) can give you that access. It’s especially good when paired with an IRC proxy like miau.
  • The Treo can also be used as a password wallet by installing Keyring (free). Note that this data does not always migrate well between Treo models. It is, however, cryptographically secure, so even if your Treo is stolen, the passwords are reasonably secure
  • Lastly, if you are a real geek and think that the HP’s high-end scientific calculators with RPN are the only acceptable calculators to use, you might be interested in Power48 (free), which is a complete emulation of the HP 48 running on the Treo. Note that it requires a high-density screen, so you will need a 650 or better. Also, you can only legally use this if you own an HP 48. To speed time, you might want to download the HP ROMs from here.

Setup Process

When I upgraded from my Treo 600 to my 650, I had to jump through a fair numer of hoops to get it working with Linux and transfer the data acceptably. Here is my process.

  1. Using the SD card, I installed ChangeName (formerlly palmname.prc) on both devices.
  2. I used ChangeName to view the name on my 600 and change the name on my 650 to match.
    • This makes it easier to transfer data between the two
  3. I used gpilot to copy the data from my old 600 to the desktop.
    • I had considerable problems with the intial sync, it turns out that you need to set the baud rate low, even when you are syncing over USB.
  4. Using gpilot-install, I synced over my *DB* files. These were recognized by the conduits, and my address book, date book, and todo entries synced up.
    • Sometimes this process died, and subsequent processes tried to resume. This can be avoided by removing the contents of the ~/.gpilotd directory.
    • I double and triple-checked that my items came across as expected.
  5. Since my phone was branded Cingular, it had the locked Cingular bookmarks and favorites on it.
    1. Read , but be prepared for things to be different.
    2. Use FileZ to copy PhoneFavorites2DB and Blazer Bookmarks to the SD card.
    3. Open PhoneFavorites2DB, select the records you want to unlock, and change the 4th byte from 0B to 00
    4. Open Blazer Bookmarks, select the records you want to unlock, and change the 3rd byte from 04 to 00
    5. You can now go into Blazer and the Phone apps, and delete the bookmarks.
    6. Now, you can set up real bookmarks, enjoy.



I use the Smartphone Experts MC6 Magnesium Case for my Treo. This protects it and allows me to keep it on my belt wherever I go. I also keep a few SD cards in the case, and change which one is my master every week, so that my automated backups have rotation.


I have reset the hard buttons as follows:

  • Rapid access – These apps are usable without opening the Treo case
    • Phone = Phone application
    • Calendar = Datebook6 application
    • Mail = GroupWise Mobile application (used at work)
    • Hold Side = Document reader
  • Delayed access – These apps are used often, but require me to up the case, for data entry
    • Option + Phone = Web application
    • Option + Calendar = Keyring application
    • Option + Mail = SMS/Messaging application
  • Favorites – These apps are used less often, but can be used without opening the case
    • Phone soft button 1 – Contacts
    • Phone soft button 2 – Versamail (for home email)
    • Phone soft button 3 – Camera
    • Phone soft button 4 – Directory Assist
    • Phone soft buttons 5-14 – Personal Contacts


I spent a few days digging through Project Gutenberg to get ebooks. While they have a plucker option for all books now, I really like tealdoc. So, I downloaded the based ASCII versions of the books I wanted and ran txt2pdbdoc across them all. Since I use RPM-based systems, and the only package available was a debian package, I rebuilt is as follows:

  1. wget
  2. wget
  3. tar xvfz txt2pdbdoc_1.4.4.orig.tar.gz
  4. gunzip txt2pdbdoc_1.4.4-5.diff.gz
  5. patch -p0 < txt2pdbdoc_1.4.4-5.diff
  6. cd txt2pdbdoc-1.4.4
  7. ./configure
  9. touch NEWS
  10. make
  11. mkdir doc-pak/
  13. cp README description-pak
  14. checkinstall
  15. cp /usr/src/redhat/RPMS/i386/txt2pdbdoc-1.4.4-1.i386.rpm .
  16. rpm -Uvh txt2pdbdoc-1.4.4-1.i386.rpm

I them put the docs on my SD cards, so I can read them wherever I may go.