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TIP: The Freedom to Live with 32 MB RAM only
Posted by Arne Hess - on Wednesday, 08.01.03 - 23:01:00 CET under 11 - Tips and Tutorials - Viewed 11617x
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While the xda is one of my personal top products for 2002 it defiantly have a weakness, its memory! 32 MB isn't enough today anymore but anyhow you have two chances: to live with 32 MB or to upgrade it.
While upgrading to 64 or even 128 MB is fine, I can not give away my xda right now so I need a different solution called SD card! ;-)

The point is that I can store all my data on the memory card why not doing the same with programs and applications? Well, some of you might think storing programs on a memory card doesn't work serious but this isn't true, it works for me - at least for the past 4 months now!

While ActiveSync installs all applications by default on the device storage you can also install in on the memory card. However, in that case it install it into the root which I don't like on one hand and didn't worked proper in the past on the other hand. From my point of view it is better to install the the CAB file directly on the Pocket PC using a third party program called CabInstl:

This program is an installer for CAB files and allows to install Pocket PC programs into the specified folder instead of that by default created by the standard installer. If the folder is not specified, installation will be made into the default folder. If the developer of the program being installed has firmly set the allocation of files in a CAB file - it will be used during the installation.

The charm of CabInstl is that you can select where the application should be installed, doesn't matter if you choose the device memory or a storage card, you select the directory! All you need now is to find the CAB file, which is more or less the installation EXE, on your PC and move it to the Pocket PC:

Preparation
Run a Pocket PC installation first on your PC as you used to use it in the past. If ActiveSync launches and ask you how to install it, cancel the installation process.
In the background the file was unpacked and anywhere on your PC the appropriate CAB file is available.
In most cases it's in the ./Program Files/ActiveSync/ directory under a new directory which is mostly the name of the program you tried to install before.

Now copy the appropriate CAB file to your Pocket PC, doesn't matter which location but remember where you copied it. If you have more then one CAB file in the directory, use the one with the proper CPU extension like ARM.

That's it, now take your Pocket PC!

Installation
Open CabInstl (which you need to install on your Pocket PC first for sure) and select which CAB file you want to install on your Pocket PC.

Now you need to select where the application should be installed. I've created a new directory on my SD card called "Program Files".

Now you can install the program on the selected path.

You can even force CabInstl not to delete the CAB file from your Pocket PC after the installation which would be the normal process. This night be interesting if you install the program right from your SD card and want to keep it stored as backup anyhow.

The Result
You will not see any differences, doesn't matter if you install the program through ActiveSync or as a CAB file on your Pocket PC. Even the icons are installed in the Star menu or wherever it should be installed by default.

But even more important is how your memory could looks like, if you install all programs on an external storage card:

Anyway - even if you install all programs on an SD card some parts of the applications might be installed on the device anyhow. This might be in the Windows directory or anywhere else but as you can see above it saves a lot of memory. On this test SD card, I've stored programs only which is around 30 MB of data. An amount I would never be able to install on the xda without storing it external. But even with this amount of installed apps, I still have around 16 MB of free storage space on the device which is enough to run a lot of applications in parallel!

Final Conclusion

Because the xda SD card slot isn't I/O I don't need to remove the storage card from there. So I can keep it in the device all the time which brought me to the idea why not to install all applications on that card. First I was afraid that this could "crash" the device or makes it unstable but after 4 months I'm using it now I have to say that it still works pretty well!
Also I didn't noticed that a program launch becomes horrible slow or any kind of battery drain, no - it simply works! :-)
Now I can install more or less every program I want to install and don't need to think if I have enough space for it, same like I do on my PC- I have installed only one application directly on the device, it's Calendar+ as it acts as a Today plug-in and is launched with every softreset. This is the only weakness, that not all programs which boots from the auto start function after a softreset can be installed on an external memory card because the interaction between the device and the flash card could be to slow right after a softreset.

Overall I love this solution and running programs from the storage card and with CabInstl I'm even more flexible! And now I don't need to be worry if I have enough space anymore. :-)

Cheers ~ Arne

Related Links : [Download CabInstl here]