USB Palm OS Device as an LCD Display

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This article based on work done by Ramuk at



USB LCD : These instructions are essentially for a USB LCD Display, a USB docking Palm-OS device can emulate a USB LCD interface so that no external adapter is needed. The same instructions could be used with some modification to add an LCD with: Add a Serial port to the PowerPC Linkstation

This article is for people that want to add an LCD display to their Linkstation but don't want to crack it open, and happen to have a USB cabled Palm OS device lying around. Using PalmOrb you can emulate an external (20x4),(40x4) or (26x16) character LCD display.


This article assumes that you have installed FreeLink. A 2.6 Kernel Upgrade to the 2.6-kernel (ppc only) has better USB support, but a 2.4 Kernel would probably work as well. For these instructions you will need a USB cabled Palm-OS Device.


  • Install PalmOrb on your USB cabled Palm-OS Device. The v1.1a4 version has the most font options for a (20x4) emulated LCD, there are several other versions available on the sourceforge site. It emulates a Matrix Orbital LK204-25 LCD.


Configure the PalmOrb app to use the USB Port: Menu -> Options -> Serial:Device:USB

  • Install and remove LCDProc using apt-get (this should take care of any dependencies) The Debian Stable Version only has the LCDd Daemon program but not the lcdproc client, so you'll have to install lcdproc from a tarball. Kind of an ugly solution to get the dependencies resolved, but it works:
apt-get install lcdproc
apt-get remove lcdproc
tar -xvzf lcdproc-0.4.5.tar.gz
cd lcdproc-0.4.5
make install
  • Use these instructions to configure LCDProc to run with PalmOrb properly: How do I configure LCDproc for PalmOrb? make sure that the MtxOrb part of /etc/LCDd.conf looks at least a little something like this:
# Matrix Orbital driver

# Select the output device to use [/dev/lcd]

# Set the display size [20x4]
modprobe visor
  • Attach the USB enabled Palm-OS device and start the PalmOrb app. Do a dmesg of your linkstation; if things went well you should see lines like this at the end:
usb 3-1: Handspring Visor / Palm OS converter now attached to ttyUSB0
usb 3-1: Handspring Visor / Palm OS converter now attached to ttyUSB1 
  • Run the LCDd (LCDproc Daemon) and LCDproc client with some options to see if it works.
LCDd &
lcdproc C M X
  • Hopefully you got some output on the Palm-OS device as an LCD. For other clients Google:lcdproc to see what other LCDProc clients you can find. Or just go here: LCDProc Site:Clients

What's the point?

PALM AS A TERMINAL untested: Enable terminal access with this command: getty -h -L ttyUSB0 9600 vt100, and use a terminal program like ptelnet

Well if you happen to have a USB enabled older Palm OS PDA lying around and want an external LCD display for the price of nothing, now you have it!

Shell Scripts

# Kill any LCDd that are running first,  Start the Daemon and 
# fork it to the background.  Then run LCDProc with the Time option and 
# fork it to the background.  
# You can run lcdproc -? alone to see what options there are.  
# Run another client: netlcdclient which gives U/Dl speed
# You could run this script at startup.

killall LCDd
LCDd &
lcdproc T &
netlcdclient -i eth0 -a LinkSTN -d