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MalayBook

Special version of the Psion netBook produced for schools in Malaysia
and later available as surplus for a fraction of the standard netBook price

The MalayBook is a very slightly modified version of the standard Psion netBook, originally produced for a large special project and not originally intended for retail sale. It has essentially the same functionality as the standard netBook, works with all the same accessories and peripherals (so far as I know), but is much cheaper -- less than half the price.

Below are links to download the OS.img (operating system) and related files for the MalayBook and alternate hardware and software versions of the Psion netBook, some notes on my experience for other MalayBook buyers or users, and links for further information for MalayBook users and potential MalayBook buyers.

Quick Links:

  1. About Psion and the netBook
  2. About the MalayBook
  3. Notes on my MalayBook experience
  4. MalayBook downloads and resources
  5. SavaJE OS for netBook
  6. Petition to Psion to offer a version of the Symbian or EPOC operating system on the new successor version of the Psion netBook Pro

About Psion and the netBook

If you don't know what a Psion netBook is, this site is probably not the best place to start. I have links to several official Psion and related sites below. There are also many Psion third-party software sites (freeware and shareware) and volunteer Psion enthusiast sites, discussion boards, and newsgroups.

IMHO (in my humble opinion), the Psion line of "palmtop" computers running Psion's EPOC version 5 operating system (ER5) are the best portable computers for travellers ever made. Although I no longer use my Psions on a daily basis, neither the hardware nor the software have been matched, much less surpassed, by any competitor or successor. (I stopped using Psion devices because of hardware and software connectivity limits -- no USB ports, buggy Wi-Fi drivers, and Web browsers and JVM for which no further development was being or could be done.)

Depending on your needs, Psion palmtop computers are available in three different form factors. All have full keyboards, use the same OS, and run the same software. The larger models have larger keyboards and displays, more memory, and connections for more types of peripherals.

All three sizes of Psion (from small to large, the Psion Revo, Psion 5MX, and Psion netBook) are essentially instant-on and instant-off. It's actually a suspend-resume that takes about 1 second -- the same amount of time it takes to open the lid and position the screen at the right angle. There's no real need to actually turn them on or off or reboot them in normal usage, and none of them actually have an "on/off" switch. What the user thinks of as the "on/off" switch is actually suspend/resume. In suspend mode, they hold a charge for at least a couple of weeks. So the whole concept of switching on, booting up, or shutting down disappears. Flip open a Psion, and start working exactly where you were when you last closed it, an hour or a week before.

The smallest Psion is the Revo Plus (also sold as the Diamond Mako), the size of a PDA (but with a full keyboard and far more functionality than any Palm OS device).

Intermediate in size is the Psion 5MX (also sold as the Ericsson MC218), with a fairly unique form factor larger than a PDA but smaller than any subnotebook. You can carry it in a jacket pocket, but it has a keyboard just large enough for some people to touch type. It's a favorite of those who need a true "pocket computer", such as backpackers, bicycle tourists, yachties, and general aviation pilots.

The largest Psion is the netBook or MalayBook (or the similar, but slightly more limited, Psion Series 7), closer in size to the smallest of the decade-later "netbooks", but with no hard disk, instant on/instant off, and other advantages. I think it's the cat's meow for travelling writers. The netBook or MalayBook has what many consider to be one of the best keyboards on any computer of any size, a color VGA screen, PCMCIA card slot, and support for modem, wired Ethernet, and Wi-Fi (802.11) cards.

Long before Palm, Psion dominated the PDA market, especially in Europe. Psion and its successor Symbian created the first handheld device and smartphone platforms open to third-party "apps". Psion made the first "netbook", a decade before Asus resurrected the label and tunred it form a trademarked model name into a generic category. The first smartphone (the Ericsson R380), introduced seven years before the iPhone, ran the Symbian OS. But Psion has been moving away from selling its own palmtop computers or PDA's. Together with the major mobile phone (cell phone) manufacturers, Psion is a founding partner of the Symbian consortium. For many years after the near-complete demise of Psion, the Symbian OS, derived directly from the Psion EPOC OS, dominated the OS market for mobile phones.

There are still used Psion palmtops for sale, some still in excellent condition, but you are most likely to find Psion palmtops through surplus dealers, resellers, and private sales.

Don't expect much help or support from Psion. Psion palmtops are very rugged, but if you do need hardware repairs, you'll probably have to go to independent specialists (or pay Psion for out-of-warranty repairs). Most software support is provided by third-party software vendors or developers, or by the large Psion user and enthusiast community. Psion is a UK company, and Psions are better known in Europe (and in Asia, Australia, and Aotearoa/New Zealand) than in the USA, so don't be surprised if you find yourself ordering from overseas suppliers: all those listed below offer worldwide ordering, service, and shipping.

In October 2003, Psion announced that the next version of the "netBook Pro", which was to replace the netBook, would be offered only with Microsoft Windows CE, although it appears that it could easily have been offered with a version of the Symbian or EPOC OS. The best chance for continued support of existing netBooks, and for continued development and suppprt of netBook software, would, of course, be if Psion continues to offer a netBook version with the Symbian or EPOC OS. For that reason -- and because in my experience EPOS is a far, far better operating system than Windows CE -- I support the petition to Psion to offer a version of the Symbian or EPOC operating system on the netBook Pro.

About the MalayBook

The MalayBook is a version of the Psion netBook with slightly different hardware and software. There's no official name for this model: it's also referred to as the E-Book, E-Buku (in Bahasa Malaysia), mNetbook, Mbook, or Schoolbook. Like the standard Psion netBook, the MalayBook runs the EPOC version 5 operating system. Other EPOC 5 machines include the Psion 5mx, Psion Revo, Psion Revo Plus, Diamond (SonicBlue) Mako, and Ericsson MC218.

(This site does not include the OS.img file for the standard netBook hardware and software; this can be downloaded free from several of Psion's own Web sites.)

Several thousand MalayBooks were produced for use by students in Malaysia, in an experimental program to replace printed textbooks with netBooks. The project was a joint venture called One Ed Dot Com (formerly at http://www.one-ed.com.my), consisting of Ericsson (Psion's "local technology partner") and several public and private entities in Malaysia.

One Ed Dot Com failed, the E-Book/E-Buku project was abandoned (for reasons apparently unrelated to the MalayBook hardware or software), and thousands of MalayBooks went on the surplus market, beginning in late 2002, for much less than the price of standard netBooks. MalayBook prices from vendors in Malaysia started at less than MYR1000 (approximately GBP165 or US$260), compared with Psion's list price for a standard netBook of GBP680 or US$1300. (These prices are for base systems exclusive of taxes and shipping charges. There are no duties or sales taxes collected on computers shipped to the USA, but buyers in other countries may have to pay import duties, VAT, and/or other taxes and fees.) MalayBook prices have increases, but MalayBooks remain much cheaper than other netBooks.

If you have a MalayBook, you can immediately identify it by the startup screen with the owner information, which is displayed after reset or whenever the main password is required. On the MalayBook, this says, "MY SCHOOLBOOK. MY WAY TO KNOWLEDGE."

The differences between a MalayBook and a standard netBook seem to be limited to a different ROM chip which includes a different bootloader, and a slightly different OS.img (operating system version). The MalayBook bootloader will only load the MalayBook OS.img, not the standard netBook OS.img available from Psion or Symbian.

A MalayBook can be converted to a standard netBook by replacing the MalayBook "personality module" (the right-hand user-replaceable ROM chip) with a standard netBook personality module. A standard netBook "personality module" can also be used to convert a Psion Series 7 to a standard netBook ("7Book"). netBook personality modules have occasionally been offered for public or private sale, or could be cannibalized from a discarded standard netBook. But Psion has not released the personality modules for public sale, so they are available only intermittently, through surplus channels. Search eBay.com for "psion netbook". (Use the "advanced search" and check the "locations: worldwide" option, since the secondary Psion market is global and mostly not in the USA.) I cannot vouch for any eBay.com sellers.

Because the MalayBook-specific bootloader code is contained in flash ROM on the "personality module" board, it may be possible to convert the "personality module" by flashing the ROM with the ROM image from a standard netBook. If anyone finds how to flash to ROM with a standard netBook bootloader image, or another way to get the MalayBook to load a standard netBook OS.img, please let me know.

Costas Stylianou offer repairs on MalayBooks, netBooks, and Psion Series 7 machines. Contact him for current prices by e-mail at costass@ntlworld.com or by phone in the UK at +44-7850-394-095. (Calling from elsewhere, please keep in mind the time difference: UK time = USA Eastern Time +5 hours, USA Pacific Time +8 hours.)

At one time, David Lowe had some netBook personality modules available, but at latest word he no longer does. David Lowe was reported to have figured out how to flash the ROM to convert MalayBook modules to netBook modules, but he has since told me that he doesn't know how to flash upgrade the ROM on the personality modules. He says he bought some standard netBook personality modules at a warehouse sale, and was swapping them for MalayBook personality modules. The MalayBook modules, in turn, were being used to upgrade Psion Series 7 machines. A Series 7 with a netBook personality module becomes a "7Book", but I don't know what to call a Series 7 with a MalayBook personality module. It would have the software capability of a MalayBook, but slightly more limited hardware, so some PCMCIA cards, etc. might not work. Anyway, if you are interested in such a Malay-7Book, contact him by e-mail for current prices and availability at david.lowe@orange.net, or phone in the UK (USA Eastern Time +5 hours, USA Pacific Time +8 hours) at +44-161-723-3576.

I have dealt with neither David Lowe nor Costas Stylianou, but received credible-seeming (but inherently unverifiable) messages from people reporting good experiences with them.

Sita Mulimedia Sdn. Bhd. in Malaysia (see below) has also intermittently had surplus netBook personality modules available, even when they haven't been listed on their Web site. They also have a large stock of netBook spare parts of all types, including replacement keyboards and screens, and have reportedly been cannibalizing some of their surplus netBook stock for parts. It's worth contacting them for almost any sort of netBook component you might want.

Psion has transferred most of its direct retail sales of palmtop computers and accessories, including its warehouse stock of accessories and spare parts, to Expansys see below). So Expansys is the other primary source of new and factory reconditioned netBook parts and accessories. Expansys breifly had netBook personality modules, but says they don't expect to have any more.

The bottom line on standard netBook personality modules is that they are scarce, and the supply is unreliable. There's no guarantee that any more will make their way onto the open market. If you want one, buy it when you find one available -- you may not get another chance.

Note to owners of standard netBooks: If your netBook dies, please don't scrap it without offering the personality module to a Series 7 or MalayBook owner. See the links below for places to buy, sell, or trade MalayBook and netBook hardware.

Some cheap netBooks currently on offer on eBay and through other resellers are really MalayBooks that have been upgraded with a standard netBook personality module, but some are actually non-upgraded MalayBooks. In addition, the memory upgrade modules (left-hand user replaceable circuit board) and the "personality modules" from the netBook, MalayBook, and Psion Series 7 are all the same size and will fit it the same slots, although they are only partially interoperable and interchangeable. Many memory and "upgrade" boards offered on the secondary and surplus market have been incorrectly decribed in sale and auction listings. Caveat emptor.

MalayBook hackers seem to be focused on two projects: flashing the ROM on the personality module to convert MalayBooks to standard netBooks (see the netBook forum at PsionPlace.com) and running Linux on the netBook and MalayBook (see the Open Psion project, formerly "PsiLinux"). Both projects would benefit greatly from inside Psion knowledge about the OS.img and bootloader structure.

The freeware PsiROM "Psion ROM Image Recompiler" (originally at http://gtm.tel.uva.es/xtep/en/PsiROM/index.htm) reportedly can be used with the MalayBook to add or remove files from the OS image, and has been used to produce a "corrected" (?)\ malayBook os.img. If you try it, let me know how it goes.

Notes on my MalayBook experience

I bought a MalayBook in December 2002 for MYR980 or US$258 (approximately GBP165) from Sita Multimedia Sdn. Bhd. in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. (Full contact info, e-mail)

Sita are willing to ship worldwide, and welcome dealer inquiries for reseller or quantity orders. Their price including shipping to the USA worked out to be substantially less than any price in the USA for a "standard" netBook, even a used one.

From private messages I've received (unverifiable but to me credible) I strongly suspect that many other MalayBook sellers on eBay and elsewhere are getting MalayBooks from Sita, and marking them up for resale. It appears that Sita has (or had) access to the primary stock of MalayBooks.

The MalayBook I received had only one sign that it wasn't new: the "netBook" logo plate above the keyboard is missing. I consider this cosmetic. I've been told that the plan was for the MalayBook to have a custom One Ed Dot Com logo plate in place of the "netBook" logo plate, but the project was terminated before these were produced or installed.

Intermittently, my touchscreen goes badly out of calibration, so that a "tap" is recorded as being up to 1/2" (1 cm) away from the actual position of the stylus ("pen") on the screen. It's easy to check for this in the "Sketch" program. When this happens, press firmly on the place above the keyboard where the logo plate is missing. This is a widely reported netBook bug, and fix. It is not specific to the MalayBook.

Incidentally, the other, long, narrow silver metal "netBook" logo plate on my MalayBook wasn't glued on securely. I used contact cement to glue it back on. Another MalayBook owner reported a similar problem, and said epoxy worked for them. This too is purely cosmetic.

At the time I ordered, Sita required full payment in advance by wire transfer (or cash and carry in Kuala Lumpur). They now accept online orders by credit card, making their offer even more attractive. For the convenience of customers in the USA, their web site now lists prices in US dollars instead of Malaysian Ringgit. At their lowest, these were US$258 for a basic MalayBook; US$34 shipping for a base system to the USA, UK, or Canada. These prices have increased as the stock of MalayBooks is sold.

My MalayBook from Sita came with a 200-240V input, 15V output, UK-plug AC adapter. USA/Canada buyers will need to buy a replacement separately. I couldn't find an original Series 7/Netbook power adapter with USA-style plug anywhere.

The choices for a netBook USA AC adapter seem to be (1) the realtively expensive OEM Psion "UK Adapter" (input 100-240V, output 15.5V) from Expansys.com, Expansys.us, or other third-party suppliers, plus a plug adapter, or (2) a 15V or 15.5V AC adapter with USA-style plug from another source.

You can find 15 or 15.5V power supplies at Radio Shack or the like; the Radio Shack models with "Adaptaplug" output are the most widely available that will work with the MalayBook or netBook. You might save some money by getting a 15 or 15.5V adapter on eBay: there are usually plenty available that were made for Toshiba, Panasonic, IBM, and Gateway laptops. For a spare, I got a Toshiba PA2444U (100-240V input, 15V output), cut off the output plug, and attached a Radio Shack Adaptaplug socket and Adaptaplug "C" (yellow) plug. It weighs 18 oz. with cord, vs. 8 oz. for the Psion adapter with USA plug adapter, but it has a much longer cord -- the Psion adapter only has a 6' (1.8m) cord.

Many people find the netBook battery life adequate for all-day use. If you want to extend the battery life, (1) set a short auto-shutoff time (actually, auto-suspend -- remember, it comes back on instantly when you push the on/off switch); (2) set the screen brightness as low as possible (this has a remarkably large effect on battery life); shut off the infrared port when not in use ("link to desktop" item in the "tools" tab of the "system" menu); and (4) shut down or remove any PCMCIA cards when not in use.

netBook batteries are expensive and proprietary, although it's possible that a netBook battery case could be "repacked" with standard modules if it no longer holds a charge. Sita and Expansys have original Psion batteries for sale. (The batteries are the same for the netBook and the Series 7.)

If you need to power or recharge your netBook in a vehicle (12V "cigarette lighter" socket) or airplane ("EmPower" socket), MalayBook user John Stolk reports that, "The Targus Universal Auto/Air Notebook Power Adapter works great with my MnetBook. The right tip is #44, it is the exact size and polarity. I have used it in both the car and aircraft."

Sita does not not supply the MalayBook or netBook OS on CD, and charges extra for a CF card with the OS.img. The CD supplied by Sita contains the PsiWin (Windows PC connectivity) software, but does not include the OS install software or the OS.img to put on a CF card. (This seems a gratuitous disservice to buyers, perhaps an oversight. I hope that Sita will add the OS install files, and the OS.img file, to the CD's they are distributing. I've included OS.img file for download from this site; see the links below.) Sita does not include a PsiWin (serial) cable, and charges more for one than Psion.

I find I don't really need a PsiWin cable. For file transfer, I either run the FTP server on the netBook, and "drive" it from an FTP client on my desktop PC, or I use a USB CF card reader. For backups and sync, you can use EpocSync over FTP, either with an FTP server on a PC on a LAN, or with an Internet FTP backup site. EpocSync's "sync with FTP server" option would enable me to restore remotely in a pinch.

If you need to get files to a Psion without a serial cable, you can "beam" them to or from a Palm, Sharp Zaurus, or other device with an infrared port once you install the free C-Beam irOBEX application on your Psion. (C-Beam was originally provided by C-Pen for use with their infrared scanners. C-Pen seems to have discontinued Psion support. There's a local copy here.)

Sita include a Psion WAN Global PC Card (56K + Fax, CombineIt) modem and RJ11 dongle at no extra charge if you pay by cash or check in Malaysian Ringitt (MYR), or by wire transfer to their bank account, but not if you order over the Web and pay by credit card.

Sita offer a variety of standard Psion OEM netBook spare parts and accessories, but all the rest are at prices comparable to Psion list prices or prices from vendors of standard netBooks.

Sita offer an RfNet model PCM-01 wireless card, FCC ID LLM002WL11000-1, for MYR300 (approx. USD80). It worked out of the box for me with an SMC 2655W access point and an Apple AirPort, although I haven't gotten WEP to work. This card is flat and doesn't block the netBook stylus. The stylus storage slot in the netBook is just above the PCMCIA card slot. Many wireless cards have a projecting antenna that is thicker than the PCMCIA card itself, and sticks up enough to block the stylus while the card is inserted.)

The MalayBook works with 3 types of wireless cards -- Lucent/Orinoco Intersil Prism, and Cisco -- but there are only 2 wireless card setup menu options, Lunent/Orinoco and Cisco. The RfNet is an Intersil Prism card, so it uses the Lucent/Orinoco MalayBook settings. I think this is also true of the standard netBook as well. NetStatRF and all other Internet applications seem to work fine on the MalayBook with this wireless cards.

Sita also offer "ex-demo" Cisco Aironet 342 Wi-Fi cards, claimed to work with the MalayBook, for USD45, and Ericsson wireless access points for USD138. I assume the "ex-demo" means that these are also surplus from the school project. I haven't tried the Cisco card, but this is one of the two models listed by name in the MalayBook Wi-Fi configuration menu, and other users have posted on bulletin boards that they work and don't block the stylus.

There's a Wi-Fi status monitor and diagnostic application for the netBook called "NetStatRF". It's available as a free download from Psion Teklogix, but it's hard to find and can't be downloaded directly: you have to register first, then download the French version of the OS add-ons, then extract the English version of NetStaRf which is included, counter-intuitively, in the French package. So I've included netstatrf.sis here.

Some, but not all, Psion branded wired Ethernet PCMCIA cards work with the standard netBook. So far as I know, all the same Psion wired Ethernet cards work with the MalayBook. netBook support for wired Ethernet cards is generally limited to Psion branded cards. These were on deep-discount closeout in early 2003 from Expansys (UK) and Expansys.us (USA) for about USD20 / GBP15 plus tax and shipping. There appears to be some discrepancy between the photos and descriptions of the cards. Many of the cards described as compatible by Expansys have proven incompatible. Caveat emptor. The cheapest Ethernet card described by Expansys as netBook-compatible is the "Psion 10Mb Ethernet Gold Card" (Expansys product code 60-6012). This card did not work with the MalayBook, at least not with any of the Internet settings options available by default with the MalayBook OS.

I've since learned that the standard netBook OS includes separate settings for "Psion Dacom Gold Card" and "Psion Gold Card". Beta versions of the drivers for non-Dacom "Psion Gold Cards" are included in the langlobal.sis package, available for download from the Psion Web site. If you can't find a "Psion Dacom" Ethernet card, you can try installing the beta Gold Card drivers, which will add another setting for "Psion Gold Card" (non-Dacom) to the menu. This might have worked for me with the card I tried and couldn't get to work. Psion "Combine-IT" Gold Cards have been reported to work (albeit unreliably) with the MalayBook with these beta drivers. But try to find a Dacom card if you can: the langlobal.sis package is only an early beta version, with known bugs, of the Psion Gold Card drivers included in the latest standard netBook OS. (Reported bugs in the beta drivers include "triple-beep" resets and stalled data transfers after some time connected.)

The "Psion 56K 10Mb Ethernet Gold Card UK Factory Reconditioned" (Expansys product code 60-0400) does work with my MalayBook. This card for the MalayBook is available here from Expansys.com (UK) or here from Expansys.us (USA). Expansys says "This version only works in the UK." The card I received had an RJ-11 (USA) phone connector on the modem dongle, and a separate small RJ-11 to UK phone plug adapter. So it's perfectly usable in the USA as is, or anywhere else with your own RJ-11 to local phone plug adapter. The label on the front of this card reads "Psion Dacom 56k+Fax 10MB Ethernet Gold Card".

Spell with the UK English dictionary is installed with the MalayBook OS. Huub Linthorst's excellent freeware SpellX allows you to switch between US English and UK English dictionaries and any other language dictionaries you install. The built-in UK English dictionary includes the US English dictionary, but not the US English thesaurus. If you want the US English thesaurus, you need to find a copy of the US English netBook language resource files.

I paid extra (it's now listed for USD15) for a case from Sita. It's oversized for the netBook, but well padded, and it was worth it for the extra padding in shipping -- Sita basically just put the netBook in the case in a plastic bag for shipping.

I got a Wetsuit 3.0 neoprene case on eBay. It's a good fit for the netBook, but not the tight stretch fit the Wetsuit is designed to have on a slightly larger machine. There's plenty of room in the Wetsuit zippered side pocket for PCMCIA and CF cards -- even enough room for a Psion Revo. I can fit the Toshiba AC adapter, which is relatively flat, but not the Psion AC adapter, which is boxy.

The MalayBook comes with Opera 3.62, with a custom home page with a link to http://www.one-ed.com.my. I bought Opera 5 and installed it on the MalayBook. Opera 5 installs to the C: drive, but retains the silkscreen Web icon. Opera is the most full-featured browser available in a version designed for for EPOC, but it is large and slow by the standards of EPOC software.

You can still run Opera 3.62 from the Z: drive even after installing the upgrade to Opera 5. (In general, Opera 5 is superior, has more features, and is able to render more Web sites. But Opera 3.62 works with secure Web sites with self-signed certificates, which Opera 5 doesn't. And Opera 3.62 is sometimes faster, especially at rendering images.) If you want to be able to use both versions of Opera, you will need Lutz Wohlfarth's excellent freeware, Dual_O, version 1.01 or later. (Dual_O version 1 does not work with the MalayBook; version 1.01 does.) Here's the corect install sequence to make it work:

  1. If you have already installed Opera 5, uninstall it. (Make sure you have your registration code before you uninstall it. Back up your cookies and/or bookmarks first if you want to save them.)
  2. Run Opera 3.62 from the silkscreen icon to set up its files.
  3. Install Dual_O (version 1.01 or later).
  4. Run Dual_O. It will say, "You can now install Opera 5."
  5. Install Opera 5. (You will need to re-enter your regostration code)
  6. Run Dual_O. You can now choose which version of Opera you want to start.

Once you have completed this process, the silkscreen icon for Opera will start whichever version of Opera you selected the most recent time you ran Dual_O.

If you want a smaller, faster (but more limited) Web browser, you can install Psion's own EPOC Web browser. Earlier Psion devices, including earlier versions of the standard netBook, came with EPOC Web, and a copy should have been included with the MalayBook. If you didn't get a copy, you can install this version of EPOC Web 2.0 on your MalayBook. (Note that there are several other versions of EPOC Web 2.0 available for download from various Psion sites, most of which are "upgrade" versions or versions for the Psion 5MX or Revo, and will not work by themselves on a MalayBook pr most netBooks. Files named "engweb.sis" or "web2.sis" are probably not the right version. The correct version of the unzipped EPOC Web install file for the MalayBook is "web.sis", 916KB, dated 6 October 1999.) The silkscreen icon will still start Opera; EPOC Web will show up as a separate program.

In the other direction, if you are willing to put up with an even slower browser that uses even more memory, in order to get a few more features, the pure Java "Grand-Rapid" browser can be made to run on the netBook. You probably won't want to use it except for specific Web sites or functions that don't work in Opera, but it can be useful for those special purposes. For example, I use MoveableType to maintain my blog. MoveableType creates a pop-up window from JavaScript to rebuild the blog to display each new entry. That function isn't supported in Opera for EPOC, but is in Grand-Rapid. So I'm only able to blog from my MalayBook or Psion 5MX by using Grand-Rapid.

Many software add-ons are available for free download from Psion, Psion Teklogix, or Symbian. (See the links below.) These include the PsiWin synchronization software for Windows, and a netBook emulator for Windows.

New software, mostly freeware and shareware, continues to be developed and released for EPOC. If you can't find an EPOC application for your desired task, try to find a Java application. Not all Java applications will work with the EPOC JVM, and those that do will probably be slow and -- by the standards of these machines -- memory intensive. But Psion enthusiasts have found and adapted Java applications to fill many gaps in the EPOC applications: SSH, SCP, SMTP authentication, etc. are available for EPOC machines through Java applications.

I use IBM Desktop On-Call (DTOC), a browser-based cross-platform Java remote control application (USD45). DTOC version 4 remote control of my Windows machines works perfectly from the MalayBook in Opera 5.14 with the Psion JVM installed. However, DTOC 4 falls back to "basic" mode", in which file transfer functionality isn't available. (I don't know if this is a a Javascript issue, or a browser detection issue. I don't have DTOC 5 to test if it would support remote file transfer from the netBook.) A particularly useful feature for use on the netBook is that DTOC has a button on the mail toolbar to switch the "mouse" button emulation between "screen tap = left click" and "screen tap = right click". This makes it relatively easy to emulate use of both mouse buttons on the netBook, which of course has only one flavor of "screen tap" to substitute for a single mouse button.

In additional to the Java IBM desktop On-Call, there are Citrix (native EPOC) and VNC (Java; two packages available for EPOC) clients available for the netBook; there's also a Java client for Windows Terminal Services advertised to work on the netBook.

For Windows Terminal Services, note that the standard "other platforms" Java version of the HOBLink JWT client for Windows Terminal Services will not work on the netBook. There is a customized distribution of the JWT client for EPOC 5 (the netBook OS), available as an ".sis" (EPOC installer) file, but it isn't available for download from the HOBLink JWT Web site. E-mail support@hob.de for a 30-day trial version for the EPOC/Symbian version of HOBLink JWT. It's relatively expensive (USD140 per client license). I've tested it, and it does work, but it's slow and the user interface is awkward (especially if you need to emulate both left and right mouse buttons), so I can't recommend it unless access to Windows Terminal Services is essential. If you need access to your personal PC, try IBM Desktop On-Call (or VNC). They are cheaper, faster, and easier.

My MlayBook has never required service. My impression of the MalayBook after several years of use is very favorable. I moved to the MalayBook from a Gateway Handbook 486 with upgraded processor, which is one of the Windows machines most similar in size and shape to the netBook. I wrote my first book mainly on the Gateway Handbook, but the netBook keyboard is even better. The touch screen is a huge improvement over an eraser-head mouse-stick or touchpad. Mostly, though, I like the instant on/off, ruggedness, and battery life -- you just can't handle anything with a hard disk, even a MicroDrive, the way you do a solid-state device like the netBook with CF memory. I feel comfortable throwing the Wetsuit with the netBook in my backpack on my bicycle, and it's already survived a one-meter fall from a podium onto a wooden stage (though I wouldn't want to repeat it.) It's wonderful for working on trains and planes.

There are no other devices currently being manufactured that match the size and features of either the Psion netBook or the Psion 5mx. But if you want to look at alternative sub-notebooks and palmtops, check out what's available from Dynamism.com, whihc imports and modifies with English-language user interfaces a variety of Japanese and other Asian devices not otherwise available in the USA or with English user interfaces or support.

MalayBook resources

SavaJe OS for netBook

The SavaJe operating system is an alternate operating system for several platforms. A beta version of the SavaJe OS for the Psion netBook was released in 2001.

According to the SavaJe.com Web site, "SavaJe Technologies is pleased to announce the availability of SavaJe XE Beta 2 Version 0.9 for the netBook Platform. This is the final release of XE on the netBook platform, and is offered as is with little or no support. SavaJe XE on the netBook platform is available for FREE and should only be used for development and evaluation only."

SavaJe OS is a native Java support platform, which incorporates the JRE in the OS. The SavaJe OS hardware list also suggests that SavaJe OS might work with some devices that aren't supported under EPOC on the netBook, such as additional wired Ethernet PCMCIA cards and some CF card modems.

The netBook version is not the current release of the SavaJe OS. There was never a final release of any version of the SavaJe OS for the netBook. It is now entirely unsupported and remains largely undocumented. Neither this beta version nor any other version of the SavaJe OS for any Psion platform is currently available from SavaJe. All use of these files is entirely at your own risk. Don't ask for any help from SavaJe Technologies, and don't make any complaints to them if anything goes wrong, including damage to your hardware or loss of data. Use these files as is, without warranty, at your own risk.

This version of the SavaJe OS will not load on the MalayBook, at least not without modification. Presumably, the same modifications to the boot loader that inhibit the MalayBook from loading any of the the standard netBook versions of EPOC also inhibit it from loading the SavJe OS. I'm posting these files mainly in the hope that having an alternate OS available for testing may assist developers in finding a way to get the MalayBook to load OS.img files other than the MalayBook customized version of EPOC 5.

SavaJe XE Beta 2 Version 0.9 for Psion netBook


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