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HELIO - a Linux Capable PDA

Currently the HELIO is only available with a proprietary operating system. See FMS for information about the Linux port.



  • Manufacturer: Vtech [archived link]
  • CPU: 75MHz MIPS / 8MByte RAM / 2MB ROM
  • Display: Touchscreen 160x160 Pixel, 16 grey steps, back light
  • Other Hardware: Voice Recorder (c. 40 Minutes) with VT-OS only!
  • Operating System: VT-OS, Linux
  • Price: app. 160 USD


  • The manufacturer of the HELIO is VTech [archived link].
  • vhl-tools [archived link] Linux distribution for the Helio.
  • KernelConcepts
  • VR Org cross compiler.
  • Pico/Linux is a small OS distrobution for PDAs combining, among other things, PicoGUI and Linux. The Helio is an inexpensive PDA manufactured by VTech, with a 160x160 LCD (same as Palm) and a 75mhz MIPS CPU. Due to the outstanding efforts of the Linux VR, vhl-tools, and PocketLinux projects, Linux now runs pretty well on the Helio.
  • Linux-Magazin (in German)
  • Linux-Magazin 9/2000 (in German)
  • The PocketLinux Linux distribution for the Helio, seems no longer available (http://www.pocketlinux.com isn't available anymore.
  • Helio user page [archived link]

Success Report

This report is a courtesy of Tasnim Ahmed :

Got started with PicoGUI (the GUI API of PicoLinux) to make some PIM apps, deciding on a file storage mechanism was vital, after some days work right now my Helio looks like:

Currently: * Unofficial VTech Linux ROM includes: kernel 2.4.0 test-3 (4bpp, unix-sockets ) no TCP/IP so can not try pppd microwindows (terminal, virtual qwerty keyboard, clock, useless demo appilcations) busybox (for all the posix commands ls, init, cut, etc.) libc, libm, and a few other necessary libs rz / sz (zmodem for serial transfers) gzip / gunzip / date and assorted stuff

Features: the RAM drive has it contents through power cycles and battery changes 16 levels of grayshades

* 2 MB RAM drive libs: pgui / jpeg / gdbm / sqlite

PicoGUI: pgserver (like X server) / virtual keyboard (qwerty/fitaly) / terminal (configurable font size) image viewer (jpeg / pnm) / vrcalc (agenda vr3's port) / games (blackout / battleship) / launchbar / uspread (my own buggy spreadsheet)

Hacks: (to get PIM functionality without effort on gui) commnand-line tools tdl project from freshmeat: todo list manager scripts for expense management script for mileage

Others: sqlite (hacked to get dynamic linking) is a light weight DB on top of gdbm. the command interpreter though need too many libs so grabbed the statically linked binary for agenda vr3 (same processor family) its working. STILL have 650 kB free :)

The Future: * design DB schema * coding PIMs using pgui and sqlite


  • Tasnim Ahmed <tasnim_at_users.sourceforge.net>

Please feel free to mail me if you have further information about the HELIO.

Werner Heuser <wehe_at_tuxmobil.org>

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© Werner Heuser 1997-2015 · http://tuxmobil.org/pda_linux_helio.html · last change Wed Oct 10 2012