On my Palm Pre, I'm running a PalmOS emulator, with a VNC client in it, connecting to a VNC server on the same phone, in order to get to an xterm. About the most roundabout way to get a prompt on a phone one can imagine, and also very wasteful of screen space because of that PalmOS emulator. I hope better methods become available.

  1. Install Classic. (This will only work for a week w/o being bought, BTW.)
  2. Login as root to Debian chroot on the Pre.
  3. Download PalmVNC: cd /media/internal/ClassicApps; wget http://palmvnc2.free.fr/stable/PalmVNC.prc
  4. apt-get install tightvncserver
  5. su to your non-root account on the Pre.
  6. Create a VNC password file containing an empty password by running: mkdir -p ~/.vnc; echo | vncpasswd -f > ~/.vnc/passwd; chmod 600 ~/.vnc/passwd
  7. Run tightvncserver -interface -geometry 320x320
    (It only listens to localhost, so the empty password is ok (ish). The geometry is all that is visible on the Pre without scrolling.)
  8. Start Classic (or restart it).
  9. In Classic, select PalmVNC and tell it to connect to localhost, and change the display from 0 to 1. It will prompt for a password, just hit Ok for a blank one.
  10. Optionally, make VNC auto-start on boot, add to rc.local something like this: su joey -c 'cd; tightvncserver -interface -geometry 320x320'


  • Need way to send arrow keys!
  • xmonad configuration

Update: Here's another screenshot, of FBReader on the Pre. One of the missing apps on the Pre is a good offline e-book reader with no vendor lock-in. FBReader is what I use on my laptop, so it's great to have it on my phone. Especially since I have room for my entire e-book library on the Pre's generous flash drive.

Previously: Palm Pre, ssh to Debian chroot on Palm Pre

stross indeed
Indeed it is Accelerando. I saw a broadsheet newspaper review of book readers on phones the other week and Accelerando was prominently displayed there, too (inside Stanza on an iPhone). releasing that book for free was a wise idea.
Comment by jmtd [livejournal.com]

I have pssh installed, but

  1. I don't just want an xterm, see FBReader above.
  2. It's difficult to get passwordless ssh working. pssh doesn't support ssh keys; TuSSH does but I have not figured out how to get the key into the Classic emulator.
Comment by joey [kitenet.net]
Native display interface?
What does the Palm Pre's native environment display to? I assume from the contortions of running a VNC server that it doesn't run X. Does it draw to a framebuffer? Or does it do something magic?
Comment by joshtriplett.myopenid.com//
Framebuffer, apparently
Replying to my own comment: apparently the Pre uses the Linux framebuffer. So, in theory, you could potentially run an X server that talked straight to the framebuffer. You just have to get it to play nice with the Pre's GUI somehow.
Comment by joshtriplett.myopenid.com//