i dropped linux (familiar linux) on the ipaq today. it was pretty straight forward and had it fully running within about one to two hours from begining.
once the boot loader was corrected since the ipaq boot loader was to old, it was just a matter of copying the proper files to the compact flash card for writing.
i am not going into detail as to how the setup is done, the familiar website makes it real straight forward depending on model of ipaq you own.
once in it will bring you into the application menu (click image to enlarge):
pretty straight forward stuff. looks and feels relatively like wince, but in the next couple of screenshots you will see the advantages.
…and here is where the fun begins:
so all in all, it does give you more functionality and it does let you compile what is needed as needed.
there is a terminal.
ssh fully works.