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Old 03-22-2008, 12:25 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Linux on a Blackberry 857/957?

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I know that it's virtually impossible to run a LinuxOS on any Java-enabled Blackberry device. And for good reason. Let's keep it that way.

THAT BEING SAID, the original Blackberry 857 and 957 had 80386 processors (as did the 800/900 RIM pagers, I believe), which are the processors Linux was originally designed to run on. Does anybody know if any attempts have been made to port a distro of Linux onto one of these vintage RIM devices?

I have an old 957 gathering dust in the desk of my home office. It's pretty much worthless to me since a) it doesn't have a phone, b) it doesn't send/receive data over modern wireless networks, and c) it doesn't support any of the third-party Java software that's out there for Blackberry these days.

If my 957 could run a small Linux distro I could get many more years of use out of it as a portable device for word processing, spreadsheets, database, etc, or as a terminal client for my PC and/or Mac.

A Linux-powered 800/857/900/957 could conceivable serve as a convenient terminal for a headless (no monitor) computer acting as a file/print/web/ftp server. I'd love to run my own little web server out of my apartment, but I don't have the space for ANOTHER full computer in my home office. My gf would kill me if I cluttered up the apartment more than I have already.

If this isn't possible due to RIM's security and intellectual property policies (which I fully agree with and think are integral to the Blackberry's value as an enterprise communications platform), is there any way RIM could be convinced to loosen their hold on source code for THESE TWO DEVICES ONLY? Do modern RIM devices and software share too much code with the 857/957 to make this feasible from RIM's point-of-view?

Maybe RIM could be convinced if a business-case could be made for selling software that could run on a Linux-powered 857/957.

If it can't be done, then it can't be done. End of story. If that's the case then I'll just have to find another vintage PDA platform to tinker with, like the Newton, a Palm III, a HP Jornada, or something like that.

But the full qwerty keyboard on the 857/957 would sure make it attractive as a Linux-powered PDA, even without the ability to surf the Internet, send/receive email, or communicate with modern RIM devices.

Maybe there's a way to wipe an 857/957 clean so a hobbyist tinkering with it wouldn't be able to glean any knowledge that could threaten RIM's modern intellectual property or threaten the security of modern BBerry users? I dunno.

Bonus benefit: Extendig the useful life of these vintage devices would bump up their resale value on eBay. Users with these devices gathering dust in their desks could make a little bit of coin selling their old devices to hobbyists. Something to think about . . .

Last edited by roystonlodge : 03-22-2008 at 12:31 PM. Reason: Fixed a typo and added another thought.
Old 03-22-2008, 08:27 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I think the first step would be figuring out how to get a kernel onto the device; this is an area I've never delved into, but I read about it and it's really in the realm of electronic engineers (JTAG port this, oscilloscope that, etc. - I don't mess with this stuff) whereby they somehow figure out how to shove an image onto the device. One of the first things that comes to mind is the DD-WRT type projects, they had to somehow use these lowlevel hardware interface methods to discover how they could get something to boot.
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Old 03-23-2008, 01:26 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Well I hope you got this project to be successful. I do want to put linux on my 8830 when its old and replaced.
"There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home."
- Ken Olson, 1977
( And we now wear them! Blackberries are computers too! )
Old 03-31-2008, 07:44 PM   #4 (permalink)
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srsly, whether on this model or another, we need linux running on blackberry hardware :J ^_^ =)
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