So I just got my PocketCHIP today and have been playing around with it to see what it can do. One of the first things that surprised me, and seems like a common notion in this forum, is that it doesn’t come with (or appear to come with) a web browser. Nor is there an application manager…in fact, the six icons on the desktop seem both fixed and somewhat limited. Now I understand that there are limitations involved in making an inexpensive, open source computer, but from what I’ve seen in the forums here and on the main site, it looks like the CHIP ships with quite a bit more on-board than the PocketCHIP. I guess I assumed they should be exactly the same, with the only difference being that we get a nice screen, keyboard, battery and case to wrap it all up with and make it portable.
Yes, I do know that it’s easy to install tons of other things via the terminal, including a few browsers with varying degrees of functionality. I also tried out Steve McGrath’s script from this post: PocketCHIP Browser Installer Script which, impressively, manages to put a browser icon on the desktop (albeit at the expense of losing the direct link to the documentation).
As far as I understand it right now, the main issue seems to be that the screen resolution for the PocketCHIP is low, and therefore a lot of apps won’t fit on the screen (and, hence, weren’t pre-installed). This may even be the justification for having this custom desktop environment over any other xwindows environment, but even if it is, the one provided seems far less adaptable than I would expect.
I tried installing and running a few programs, including ScummVM, and Scratch, that I knew CHIP could run, and indeed they do–but they extend beyond the screen. I even installed a stripped-down desktop environment called LXDE https://wiki.debian.org/LXDE, and that works too, although it’s a little clunky.
So after testing this out a bit, I’m left with some questions. The most direct one is whether there is some way to force programs to be smaller in size, or control their resolution. Unfortunately, searching for “using linux apps on low resolution screens” turns up the exact opposite–how to optimize or adjust your settings for use on high-res screens. The next most obvious thing to me would be scroll bars. When I use Teamviewer or Logmein from my phone I can scroll around the larger screen of my desktop, effectively panning around a zoomed-in image. Is there some way to do that here? Let the programs be too big, just let me pan across them. If so, how can I do it? If not, why not? Is there an alternate desktop environment that would be able to do this?
Also, regarding the web browsers…mobile browsers have been around for years. OperaMini was crunching pages down to bite-size form back in the WAP flip-phone days, as well as being the backbone for Nintendo’s DS and Wii browsers. Is there not a similar open source mini-browser that could work more comfortably on the small screen?
My last question is about the mouse. It’s a little iffy on the screen between touching and clicking or click-dragging for me. Maybe it’s a matter of getting used to it, but I’m wondering if there are sensitivity settings somewhere that could be adjusted. Also, is there some way to right-click on things? Maybe by holding a button before pressing the screen? If not, could that be added somewhere down the line?
My apologies for such a long post, but I’d be interested to hear other people’s thoughts on the limitations (and workarounds thereof) of the low screen resolution and I’m looking forward to all the fun ways this pocket computer will be put to use!