Pepper Pad



At the end of September 2005 I finally got my Pepper Pad.

Pepper is an intriguing platform. It’s based on Intel’s top-of-the-line embedded systems platform, XScale, with the 624MHz PXA270 CPU, accelerated video with hardware MPEG decoder and TV out, 256MB RAM, and a 1.8″ hard disk drive (at least 20GB). It runs Linux – specifically, based on MontaVista Linux CEE and Professional Edition with many custom-built packages and a unique Java-based interface. It uses X Windows for display on an 8.4″, 800×600 backlit touch-sensitive screen. Built-in thumbboard for text entry as well as support for all standard wireless and wired interfaces: USB, 802.11 networking, Bluetooth, and IrDA.

I now also have a Pad 3, the successor hardware platform based on AMD Geode.

I really wanted one for a few reasons. One, I wanted an easy-to-use computer for the living room that was smaller and lighter than a laptop, and didn’t require me to fiddle with Windows all the time. Second, I wanted a device that I could do some cool hacks on. This is the place to find said cool hacks.


7 replies

  1. Awesome! 🙂 Just one quick note on naming conventions; a lot of unofficial non-distro RPMs include the name of the packager in the version/release. For example, the Fedora Legacy project uses legacy in their names (foo-1.0-1.legacy).

    So, instead of realvnc-4.1.1-1.armv5tel.rpm, you’d be realvnc-4.1.1-1.chuma.armv5tel.rpm (change the release tag in the SPEC from 1 to 1.chuma). This allows RPM to differentiate between RPMs released by different groups. 🙂

  2. i thought that monta vista was expensive. what is needed to build apps? what are the limitations (for example, can you rebuild the kernel?)

  3. MontaVista RPMs are included on the pad. Basicially all necessary GNU development tools are included, and Pepper fills in the blanks for X libraries and such.

    You might be able to roll your own kernel… Pepper has written more than a few custom drivers for the platform though, and these will likely stay closed-source. So far I haven’t seen any reason to roll my own kernel.

  4. Are you still pretty active with your Newton? How does it run up next to the Newton?
    Looks like a pretty sweet device.

  5. No, I haven’t used the Newton in a long time. Their functions are different: were I a mobile professional with lots of contacts, calendar entries, and notes to take, I’d probably still be using the Newton. My life just isn’t complicated enough to warrant using it anymore. The Pepper on the other hand is filling a need that has cropped up: a mobile information appliance.

  6. I tried to download the icewm as well as some other programs but the perpper pan won’t run the programs. I keep getting a window that says it can’t run the program. If anyone hase any insight please e-mail me at

  7. This documentis mentioned in the Linux on Tablet PCs section of TuxMobil.