Wednesday, June 29, 2005

PalmSource sure takes a while to get things done

I just took a look at the PalmSource website. On the front developers page, they mention that they have developed an ARM emulator. Before all you developers get your hopes up, you should know you have to be in the Inside Track program to access it.

Here is the problem. The Palm OS before version 5 used 68k processors. Now that we are at version 5, they use ARM processors. The problem is that the simulators and emulators for OS5 devices only run 68k, and not ARM code. This means that if a developer wants to write an app that uses ARM code, they have to buy the actual device to test with it, since their programs will not run on the simulator. (Dmitry for one has this problem since SkinUI is written in ARM)

In my humble opinion, this is something that should have been released when the OS was released. It is quite sad that Palm took this long, and now normal developers still cant get their hands on it. This is symptomatic of Palm's problems, and they are going to have to turn it around if they want to keep developers, their most important customers.

What do you think? Does Palm need to get their act together, and are actions like this simply outrageous?


Blogger Mitchell Rusk said...

It seems everything palm is slow. Look how long it took palmone to release a new wi-fi device. Look, they still don't use cobalt. And palmsource still releases new garnet os's (like 5.4.8) they should be consentrating on cobalt and linux. At this rate the last garnet device will run palm os

6:01 AM  
Anonymous Cuminsplitter said...

and even the so called "geeks" mix it up.
palmOne = hardware
palmSource = software
Even though they seem to cooperate pretty closely and were once ONE company they are not anymore. STILL we get a lot of mixups with the names...just read the headline and the actual post ;-))

8:33 AM  
Blogger Ben Combee said...

There are lots of reasons for not having an ARM emulator available until now:

First, PalmSource was working on an ARM-based version of POSE before OS 5 was released. It was announced at the 2002 DevCon. However, the speed of the emulation proved too slow on the available PC hardware at that time. Also, back then, OS 5 was still viewed as a short-term OS release that would only be around for a year before OS 6 started shipping on devices, so PalmSource management didn't want to spend a lot of effort on supporting OS 5-specific projects.

Then, after those engineers started working on other projects, PalmSource tried to do a deal with Virtio to make their ARM system board emulators available to developers. These ran fairly quickly, but the pricing was going to be expensive (several hundred dollars per developer), and the whole deal got tangled in business negotiations before being scrapped.

So, the new emulator you're seeing in Inside Track is PalmSource's third attempt. It's based on a different ARM emulator technology than the one used in the abandonded ARM POSE, and it looks like its going to work pretty well. However, it will take a bit of work to hook in a lot of the features that made POSE work so well for 68K development, and I don't know if they will do that work for Garnet or Cobalt when Palm OS for Linux is their future.

Even with this, the speed isn't great. On a fast PC, the emulator is about as fast as a 40MHz device. The emulator also doesn't handle actual shipping device hardware, it just emulates one of the Intel development boards that PalmSource uses internally.

BTW, to respond to Mitchell Rusk -- most of PalmSource engineering is working on Cobalt, Palm OS for Linux, and related developer tools. There hasn't been a full engineering team at PalmSource working on updates to Garnet since the 5.4 release in early 2004.

8:48 AM  
Anonymous Michael Thompson said...

Palm, Palmsource, it makes little difference now as they are re-merging. Dead nits to pick soon.
Beside, a mess by any other name...

I've been told to put on my tin foil hat on this before, but it looks to me as if Palm is looking to make things hard on deveopers that aren't "with them" in order to start controlling content.

There is money in the hardware, but look at all of those 3rd party apps they could be wiping out so that their "propery written programs" can a)look better written and stable because "preffered" developers were given the key info, and b) They have to get it through PALM.

The cellular carriers have already gotten on board with nickel and dime content delivered to phones.
Palm doesn't want to put WiFi in their handhelds, and wants to make smartphones more than handhelds.
(Putting WiFi in is something they are doing, but plainly don't want to.)

So, in a tin foil hat-shaped nutshell:
I say it's Palm/Palmsource (whatever) positioning themselves to have their cake and eat it too in the form of freezing out developers that haven't been "branded" by them and creating a confusing environment whereby THEIR "properly written programs" will win out over older, established (cheaper, uncontrolled) 3rd party ones.

(The trick is to twist the foil at the top.)

12:06 PM  
Blogger Tam Hanna said...

this is a problem indeed-what to emulate.
However, most emulation experts say that the ratio is 1:10. So I wonder how they get to 40MhZ.
Best regards
Tam Hanna

3:52 PM  
Blogger Brad Green said...

You are right, I messed up the name. I'll fix that now. It is PalmSource's fault, though PalmOne should have been pushing for action.

4:42 PM  
Blogger Brad Green said...

To say a little more. The ARM emulator is released with the device ROMs, which should make it a useful software testing device, regardless of any specific hardware that a device may have. I can definitely see how PalmSource is focusing on Cobalt. Look at the Cobalt simulator. It emulates like 3 different types of code. It can be run in any resolution, with many different settings. There is alot of material available for Cobalt.

4:48 PM  
Blogger Mitchell Rusk said...

I don't think palmOne and Palmsource are remerging. palmOne is just changing there name to palm. They will still be two seperate companies.

5:28 PM  
Blogger Steven Fisher said...

palmSource and palmOne are not merging.

palmSource is renaming itself to something unknown, renaming the OS to something unknown, and continuing to work on Palm OS 6 which very few people ccare about.

palmOne is renaming itself to Palm.

All indications at this point that I've seen indicate that evolutionary changes to Palm OS 5 "Garnet" are the future, and the Palm OS 6 "Cobalt" revolution is irrelevent and stillborn. It seems entirely possible that Palm OS 6 "Cobalt" will never ship on a device as "Palm OS," although it might ship under some non-Palm name.

Which makes it disturbing that there's no compiler development for Palm OS 5 "Garnet."

1:45 AM  
Blogger Dmitry Grinberg said...

Did nobody notice that OS6 simulator runs armlets just fine? Of course no support for Native OS5 apps or R9-based sysCalls but it does seem to run armlets slowly.

5:50 AM  

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