Asus to embed Linux into all motherboards

Happy geek news from Asus to embed Linux into all motherboards.

Asus is to embed a lightweight, instant-on version of Linux called "Splashtop" into all its motherboards, following good feedback from customers.

On Wednesday, DeviceVM, the company behind the distribution, said the hardware manufacturer would be putting Splashtop — which Asus calls "Express Gate" — into a million motherboards a month. Splashtop includes a Firefox-derived browser and the Skype internet-telephony application.

Splashtop is described by DeviceVM as a "secure web-surfing environment", and is embedded on motherboards so that it can be booted within seconds, as an alternative to booting up a full operating system. It first appeared on high-end Asus motherboards in October 2007 and has since been put onto the more mainstream M3 series, but, according to Joe Hsieh, general manager of Asus’ motherboard business unit, it will now be extended to the entire range. [continue]

Summary for non-geeks: more Linux out there in the world! I like Linux, so this kind of news makes me happy.

XO laptops, available at last!

A recent New York Times article gives a good introduction: Laptop with a mission.

In November, you’ll be able to buy a new laptop that’s spillproof, rainproof, dustproof and drop-proof. It’s fanless, it’s silent and it weighs 3.2 pounds. One battery charge will power six hours of heavy activity, or 24 hours of reading. The laptop has a built-in video camera, microphone, memory-card slot, graphics tablet, game-pad controllers and a screen that rotates into a tablet configuration.

The computer, if you hadn’t already guessed, is the fabled "$100 laptop" that’s been igniting hype and controversy for three years. It’s an effort by One Laptop Per Child ( to develop a very low-cost, high-potential, extremely rugged computer for the two billion educationally underserved children in poor countries.

The concept: if a machine is designed smartly enough, without the bloat of standard laptops, and sold in large enough quantities, the price can be brought way, way down. Maybe not down to $100, as O.L.P.C. originally hoped, but low enough for developing countries to afford millions of them — one per child. [continue]

(You’ll need a password if you want to read the rest of the article.)

Sounds interesting, yes? I love that the XO computer runs the Linux operating system, includes free software, and is reputed to be durable and easy to use.

Continue reading

BabelDisc: Linux for technophobes?

From CNET: BabelDisc: Linux for technophobes?.

A new Linux distribution designed to be as user-friendly as possible went into beta testing Tuesday.

BabelDisc, the brainchild of U.K. Internet pioneer and Pipex founder Peter Dawe, is a lightweight Ubuntu-based distribution that runs only from a CD and does not even require the host PC to have a hard drive, opting instead for subscriber-based hosted storage.

Dawe, speaking to ZDNet UK Wednesday, said BabelDisc was suitable for a variety of users, not the least of whom are technophobes. "It is pretty much designed for people’s mothers — certain users want to switch it on and want it always to look the same," he said, noting that many people are scared of computing because unpredictability "undermines their confidence."

"We are targeting the 60 percent of the population that are unhappy using computers," Dawe said, “but some of the other 40 percent will also find our proposition attractive because they’re fed up with being the unpaid support engineers for Microsoft." [continue]

Developing nations to test new $150 laptops

From Reuters: Developing nations to test new $150 laptops.

From Brazil to Pakistan, some of the world’s poorest children will peer across the digital divide this month — reading electronic books, shooting digital video, creating music and chatting with classmates online.

Founded by Massachusetts Institute of Technology academics, the non-profit "One Laptop per Child" project will roll out nearly 2,500 of its $150-laptops to eight nations in February.

The experiment is a prelude to mass production of the kid-friendly, lime-green-and-white laptops scheduled to begin in July, when five million will be built.

Its technological triumphs include a hand crank to charge its battery, a keyboard that switches between languages, a digital video camera, wireless connectivity and Linux open-source operating software tailored for remote regions.

The project’s operators say the price should fall to $100 apiece next year, when they hope to produce 50 million of the so-called "XO" machines, before dipping below $100 by 2010 when they aim to reach 150 million of the world’s poorest children. [continue]

Continue reading

A closer look at what ‘$100 laptop’ will be

From A closer look at what ‘$100 laptop’ will be.

It’s an astonishing experiment: Design a cool computer, unlike anything on the market, loaded with innovative features. Manufacture it for not much more than $100 apiece, a fraction of what other computers cost. Persuade government officials in developing countries to buy millions of them, and hand them to schoolchildren. Then stand back and see if you’ve done what you hoped – created a revolution in the way kids learn.

The next step in turning this techno-dream into a reality begins in February when prototypes of the XO laptop go out to be kid tested in a dozen or so countries from Brazil to Rwanda, Libya to Pakistan.

After the kids have their say, and necessary changes are made, the nonprofit group One Laptop Per Child (OLPC at plans to ship 5 million XOs around the world by the end of 2007, a first installment toward reaching the 1 billion school-age children now growing up in the developing world. The machines will be built by Quanta Computer in Taiwan.

What will the XO be like? While the final specifications may change a bit, the fundamental features are set. They include: