How to setup the palm development environment on 2011

A little history

Developing Palm on the last years, is not an easy task. Palm is a platform that is being left behind by the device's manufacturers and it's own parent company. The Palm company has suffered several division processes, fusion processes, and stakeholders change. All those changes has left us a brand without presence. When we are referring to Palm, we refer to the devices made by Palm or the ones that use the PalmOS, also are included the devices than use the GarnetOS, we are not referring to the devices that use WebOS1.

Based on our experience with mobile devices, Palm has a desirable interface thanks to the touchscreen, even today several mobile phones and mobile platforms feature the touchscreen, those mobile devices has some drawbacks when developing solutions for them. As example the iOS device manufacturer does not encourage development on platforms he does not sell, us developers can work android development on major platforms that is a step ahead from iOS. Perhaps the cost is the main entry barrier on android and iOS, even when rented those devices are expensive for the startups. Also is a good time to mention Palm is still deploying devices.

Here on kipuamutay, our focus are the entrepreneurs, it would be very expensive to choose devices with iOS or android2. On the contrary Palm is not that expensive if we get a second hand device or buying a brand new PDA32. We should notice that kipuamutay provides our products list on several mobile clients included android and Palm.

When we were developing Palm applications some years ago it was easy to setup the development environment on Windows or GNU/Linux. Codewarrior for the former and PRCTools for the latter. However as we have stated above that situation has changed. Lately installing PRCTools is not an easy task.

The problem

The problem is that PRCTools uses an older gcc compiler(gcc-2.95.3). The quick an easy solution to this problem is using OnboardC from inside the emulator3. When developing the palm client for our inventory system4 we have used this tool combination, but for avoiding coding inside the the short device screen we used emacs5. So our workflow was as follows:

This development workflow is convenient, the resources can be worked on the host and also inside the emulator.

We think it is feasible compile PRCTools using eglibc. The advantage of PRCTools is the debugging and quickly navigating the source code specially when refactoring. As a good practice we recommend having a tcp log during the development process as android has.

The alternatives for using PRCTools

If what you want is having PRCTools on GNU/Linux your options are:

If you are on windows use cygwin.

The device alternative

Palm as a company has several years without producing a PDA, but the acceca licence is producing the PDA32.


We have reviewed several alternatives for Palm Programming on 2011, our options happens from doing on device development to running PRCTools on an old distro. If your requirements are having a portable system and carry the system with you then Palm is the less expensive option that features the touch screen.

1. Some folks have had success running Palm OS emulator on WebOS.

2. Our inventory system has a client for this platform.

3. The Emulator can be installed without problems on GNU/Linux as in Windows.

4. Our inventory system has is available on several mobile platforms. See the section products.

5. Also for avoiding the mouse.

6. Those files are PalmDOC packed on a pdb, which should be included en the OnboardC project.

Last change: 22.11.2011 20:02

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