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November 2002

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Using a Palm m105 with eComStation

By Manfred Agne © November 2002

Palm m105Recently, I bought a Palm m105 . For those of you who haven't seen one before, the Palm m105 is a hand-held computer with a 160 x 160 pixel, 16 level grayscale display and 8 megabytes RAM. It comes with a few pre-installed PIM applications, notably an electronic calendar, a memo pad for text entries, a to-do list  with a simple alarm function, a calculator, a note pad for drawing and storing simple free-hand sketches, and an address book. It also comes with a cradle which connects to a PC's serial port, and of course the inevitable CD-ROM with software for Windows.

Palm and eCS

The main reason why I bought this slightly outdated Palm instead of one of the more up-to-date devices with color display was not the price difference, although I must admit that this played a role as well. The main reason was that the 'm105' seems to be the last Palm that integrates nicely into an OS/2 environment. The m105 features a serial connection, while the newer Palms connect to the PC via USB. The serial connection requires no special drivers, and programming from, e.g., REXX is relatively easy.

Pilot Link

On Hobbes, you will find a port of Pilot Link version 0.9.3, a bunch of command line programs that provide basic connectivity between the Palm computer and your eCS machine. The package includes a setup script (\OS2\MAKEFOLDER.CMD) which creates a desktop folder with a few program objects:

Pilot Link folder

There are other objects in the folder, and I will mention some of them later.

Reading News on the Palm

Besides the program object for the included command line programs, the Pilot Link setup program also creates an object for OS/2's PPP.EXE. For me, this was definitely the most exciting discovery when I installed the Pilot Link package! The m105 includes a TCP/IP stack, and with the 'Pilot PPP Server', the Palm can be networked to the OS/2 or eComStation computer. On my desktop PC, I run Changi as a local news server, and I'm using the third-party application 'Yanoff' on the Palm to read the OS/2 newsgroups every morning while I'm travelling to the office by train. During the night, Changi automatically connects and synchronizes with various OS/2-centric newsgroups on four different news servers. Shortly before I leave in the morning, I put the Palm into it's cradle and load the latest messages into Yanoff's databases. I read and write in the train, and when I come back after work, I send the replies. I had tremendous difficulties getting this up and running, therefore I will explain it in some detail.

First of all, we will need to download and install Pilot Link. You should also make sure that PPP.EXE is present on the OS/2 machine.

Open the settings notebook of the 'Pilot PPP Server' object in the Plot Link folder and remove 'defaultroute' from the parameter line. You might want to add a netmask statement, eg. 'netmask', but I don't think this is necessary. Anyhow, I have it. The two IP numbers are those that you specified when the Pilot Link installation program was executed; it defaults to They determine the IP numbers of the OS/2 machine and the Palm on the PPP connection. I have an Ethernet LAN at home and tried to use the LAN address of the OS/2 machine for the PPP connection. This didn't work, and I had to specify a different address. Currently, I use on the LAN, and on the PPP connection; the Palm gets Please leave the speed settings at the default (19200), as there seem to be problems on many machines with higher speed configurations. We can tweak this parameter later, when everything is running smoothly. Finally the COM port defined on the parameter line needs to reflect the serial port to which the cradle is connected. Close the settings notebook to save the changes.

I assume that you have Changi up and running, and that you have access to the newsgroups from the PC that runs Changi. However, to be able to use Changi from any other computer (including the Palm device), you will need to create an 'nntp_access' file in the home directory of Changi. In my case, the file has the following content: both post * both post * both post * both post *

The available options are explained in detail in the Changi manual, see NNTPACCESS.HTM. In the above example, the first line allows the local host ('') to read and bulk-download ('both') and post to ('post') all available newsgroups ('*'). With the next two lines, the other PCs on our LAN are given the same permissions. The last line of the file enables access for the Palm's IP address on the PPP connection. Note that you can replace the IP addresses in this file with the host names of the respective machines if you configure them in the hosts file, or if a DNS server is available (provided that you know how to tell the DNS server about the PPP connection - I have no idea how to do that). Note that the Palm's IP address specified in the parameter field of the 'Pilot PPP server' must match the address appearing in Changi's nntp_access file.

With these modifications, the OS/2 system is ready, and  we can proceed to the configuration of the handheld computer:

On the Palm, open the 'Prefs' program, click on the text in the upper right corner of the screen, and select 'Connection' from the drop-down menu. Select 'new', and give the connection any meaningful name, eg. 'ppp' or whatever. Select 'Serial to PC' for the connection method  and click on 'Details ...'. Under speed, select '19200 bps' - this entry needs to match the settings of the 'Pilot PPP Server' object! The 'FlowCtl' settings can remain as they are ('automatic'), or you can set them to 'on' for hardware flow control. Be careful - 'on' may or may not work! Click on 'OK' twice to return to the first screen of the 'Prefs' / 'Connections' program.

Now, select 'Network' from the drop-down menu in the upper right corner. For service, select 'Direct PPP', and under 'Connection', select the connection that you created before ('ppp' if you followed my suggestion). Click on 'Details ...' and make sure that the connection type is 'PPP', that 'IP address automatic' is checked, and that 'Query DNS' is unchecked (unless you are absolutely sure that you need DNS). Click on 'Script', and check that the following page contains only the line 'END:'. If there is more, set the first line to 'END:', and the rest will vanish automatically. Click on 'OK' twice to return to the first screen of the 'Prefs' / 'Network' program. This should be sufficient to get basic connectivity between the Palm and your desktop PC. To test this, put you Palm in the cradle, start the 'Pilot PPP server', and click on 'Connect' in the first screen of the 'Prefs' / 'Network' program. You should briefly see the three status messages 'Initializing', 'Signing On' and 'Established' on the Palm, and the PPP window on the PC should show the following output:

Pilot PPP Server

If you get any error messages, or if pinging the Palm doesn't work properly, check your setup. If you are having difficulties, you might also want to have a look at the webpage 'Connecting a Palm to Linux using PPP' for further guidance. In all other cases: Congratulations!

When everything is working smoothly, download 'Yanoff' from Sourceforge and install it on your Palm Pilot by dropping the file 'yanoff.prc' onto the 'Install PRC or PDB (Dropped on me)' object in the Pilot Link folder. On the Palm, open Yanoff and select 'Misc', 'Server Prefs' from the menu bar. Enter the name of your mail server in the 'Name' field, it's IP number in the address field, and your mail address in the 'Reply-To' field. Click on '>>', fill in the next page, and confirm with 'OK'. Define the newsserver by repeating this process with the corresponding entries for the computer which runs Changi. Finally, subscribe to one or more newsgroups via the 'Management' - 'Subscribe' menu. Finally, select 'Comm' - 'Poll Prefs' from the menu and set 'Get' to 'New Articles', 'From' to the previously defined newsserver (or 'all servers' if you want to read mail with Yanoff too), and make sure that 'Post news' is checked. Click on 'Save/Poll' to save these settings and load the first messages.

There is a host of other options available, mostly for minimizing the storage required. I will not discuss them here, as they are discussed in detail in the manual that comes with Yanoff (HTML, PDF). However, for a first attempt, these options are not required.

Copilot for OS/2 and Windows

'Copilot is a Palm emulator, originally developed by Greg hegwill. The Windows and Macintosh versions are now maintained by Palm Inc. Ages ago, an alpha version was ported to OS/2 by Siegfried Hanisch. I tried both the ancient OS/2 version and the most recemnt Windows version and got neither of them to run. Therefore, I cannot say much about their usability. Anyhow, if you would like to try them, you will need a ROM file. The Pilot Link package includes a utility for downloading the ROM from your Palm, or you can get a ROM from the Palm website.

StarOffice 5.1a and Palm

What was more important for me, the 'm105' synchronizes with the PIM of StarOffice 5.1a. I had read this in the  VOICE Newsletter 1/2002 - OS/2 PIMs - StarSchedule 5.1a, and although the author could not confirm that this works, I hadn't heard negative reports either. However, I can assure you that it does work on my system. I use StarOffice for text processing, and therefore it was already installed. I hadn't included the synchronisation modukle in the installation (by default, it is not installed), but than be easily added to an existing Office installation using the setup program:

StarOffice 5.1 Installation

Select the 'Palm Pilot Integration', and click on 'Complete'. After successful installation, there's a subdirectory \office51\palmplt\, and in this directory, you should find the file starsync.prc. Once this is installed on the Palm, it is possible to fire up StarOffice, put the Organizer in the cradle, and press the 'sync' button to synchronize the Palm with the PIM.

Note however that this is not a full backup of your Palmtop by any means. StarOffie has no place for your memo pad or note pad entries, and of course it does also not handle additional programs installed on the Palm or their data.

Palm Desktop and ODIN

As I mentioned, the Palm comes with a CD-ROM, and not very surprisingly, the included software is for Windows only. Perhaps more surprising, the Palm desktop 3.something that came on the CD installs and runs under Odin, although there are a few cosmetic problems on my sytem (using the Scitech display drivers). It refused to work under native Win98SE though. There is a newer version available from, and that works under Win98. I haven't tried the newer version under Odin, but I wouldn't expect any problems.

Palm Desktop

The Palm Desktop will, however, only synchronise with the Palm if the included application 'hotsync.exe' is started beforehand. I created the following CMD file:

cd G:\WIN32\PALM

The Palm Desktop works well with this script, but it has the disadvantage that HOTSYNC.EXE keeps running even after termination of the visible desktop program, and this blocks access to the COM port for other programs. I'm sure this problem can be overcome, but I didn't try; I don't use the Windows application anyway.


Overall, the Palm Organizer integrates astonishingly well into an eComstation environment. It is possible to install programs, to backup data from the Palm and restore them either completely or selectively, and with the Personal Information manager integrated into StarOffice 5.1a, there's even a native PIM that synchronizes with the Palm. The PPP connectivity allows the Palm to use an OS/2 or eCS system as a gateway for it's internet connectivity, including mail and news facilities. As a last resort, it is also possible to run the Win32 software that comes with the Palm under Odin. Unfortunately, this seems to be available only for those Palms that come with a serial connection - and the m105 is the latest (and probably the last) Palm computer with this port, and it is about to vanish from the market. This, however, has the advantage that it is cheaply available. Even if you don't want to buy one right now, it is very likely that used Palms will be available on ebay and similar sites for quite some time.


Palm m105 product information:
Pilot Link version 0.9.3:
Changi news server:
Yanoff news reader für Palm:
Yanoff handbook HTML:
Yanoff handbook PDF:
Connecting a Palm to Linux using PPP:
Copilot Palm Emulator for Windows and Mac:
Article StarOffice 5.1a PIM:
Article Palm Desktop under Odin:

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