USB Palm OS Device as an LCD Display

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This article based on work done by Ramuk at



These instructions are essentially for a USB LCD Display[1], 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 as a matter of fact someone on the kurobox wiki has done just that[2]

This article is for people that want to add an LCD display to their Linkstation but don't want to crack it open[3], and happen to have a USB cabled Palm OS [4] device lying around. Using PalmOrb [5] 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[6] version has the most font options for a (20x4) emulated LCD, there are several other versions available on Sourceforge[7]. 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[9] 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]
  • You may have to initiate the appropriate module for the palm[10]
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[11]

What's the point?

Palm as Terminal (untested)
Enable terminal access with this command: getty -h -L ttyUSB0 9600 vt100, and use a terminal program like ptelnet[12]

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

Related Links:


  1. CFA-635 USB LCD
  2. LCDKuro - Add a Display and Keyboard to your Kurobox
  3. The NSLU2-Linux project where this idea was hijacked from: Palm as LCD-Display or terminal
  4. The Wikipedia: Palm OS devices
  5. The PalmOrb Page: SourceForge:PalmOrb
  6. palmorb - alpha/beta releases Latest v1.1a4
  7. PalmOrb
  8. The LCDproc home: LCDproc
  9. How do I configure LCDproc for PalmOrb?
  10. Handspring−Visor with Linux mini−HOWTO by Ryan VanderBijl
  11. LCDProc Site:Clients
  12. ptelnet - a powerful communication software for the Palm Computing platform


If you happen to own a dbox2, you can display a log file on the dbox's LCD -andre