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Intel Releases Moblin 2 Alpha OS for Netbooks

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 19 comments

When it comes to netbooks, the near-constant in hardware design is the Atom processor. But what about the operating system on top of it?

Sure, Intel has the lock when it comes to netbook CPUs, but the software that drives the power-thrifty Atom is a little more varied. The cheaper netbooks come with some sort of Linux-based operating system, while the more expensive (and memory-laden) ones carry Windows XP.

In fact, most netbooks sold come with Windows XP, which still looks to be the most lightweight modern Microsoft OS -- but now with Windows 7 looming on the horizon, XP is beginning to show its age more than ever. Netbooks won’t be able to keep chugging along with Windows XP forever.

So, Intel is taking matters into its own hands by building its own operating system for netbooks -- specifically, Intel-powered netbooks. Based on Linux, Intel’s “Moblin” (perhaps as in, "hey, I’m mobilin’ around with my netbook!") reached its first alpha release earlier this week.

The alpha release is available freely for testing of the following:

  • The core Linux O/S, boot process, inter-process, and package interactions.
  • The new "Fastboot" feature of Moblin, which fundamentally improves boot time and allows for unprecedented speed for a general purpose Linux.
  • Connectivity and networking, using the new ConnMan connectivity manager.
  • Kernel 2.6.29-rc2.
  • The Moblin Core Components (first look at this), including Clutter and all other UI development tools.
  • Xserver 1.6 (with DRI2).
  • New Moblin Image Creator (MIC2) and installation tool.

As long as you have an Intel CPU that’s capable of running SSE3 (Core 2 Duo included), then you can give Moblin a try. Intel said that it has tested Moblin Alpha 2 on the Acer Aspire One, Dell Mini 9 and the Asus Eee 901.

Intel does warn that the UI is still under heavy development and will not look like the current XFCE as it does presently. 3D performance is also known to be slow. Check out the details and download links here.

Install it on your netbook (if you’re adventurous and know what you’re doing) and let us know what you think!

Display 19 Comments.
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  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , January 29, 2009 7:07 PM
    Very nice to see this. Nicer still if it includes the GNU compiler collection.
  • 0 Hide
    StupidRabbit , January 29, 2009 9:05 PM
    i guess it all comes down to how the OS looks. it might be super complicated or efficient on the inside.. but most people will just prefer xp just for the looks.
    but its interesting to see intel make an OS since most netbooks are stuck with the Atom. i bet it will play a random 2 hour movie whenever you want to extract an archive just so you have something to do...
  • 0 Hide
    apache_lives , January 29, 2009 9:07 PM
    wheres google's OS i heard of a while back? they seem to be the king of easy and efficent, oh and free too :D 
  • 0 Hide
    tipoo , January 29, 2009 10:08 PM
    huh. so Intel wants to get in the software game, eh?
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , January 30, 2009 1:01 AM
    Is it open source?

    (of course not)
  • 0 Hide
    enewmen , January 30, 2009 1:51 AM
    Why not just modify Maemo 5+ Linux? It works well, Open Source, lean enough for a 3" handheld, a REAL OS (can even run Apache, full Adobe Flash9, etc), handles 3D, etc. Just mod it for x86.
    Anyway, there are many good Linux solutons already made. Why does Intel need a new one? The BE-OS was also good, too bad that died.
  • 0 Hide
    WheelsOfConfusion , January 30, 2009 10:47 AM
    I wish Intel would instead funnel their efforts into support for their hardware that ALL distributions could use instead of making Yet Another Linux Distro. I'd probably just put some flavor of Ubuntu on a netbook anyway.

    And realistically, Microsoft's impending support termination aside, why CAN'T netbooks keep using XP? I doubt the hardware will seriously outpace its capabilities in the next few years. The only thing I can think of is XP's security problems.
  • 1 Hide
    neiroatopelcc , January 30, 2009 11:14 AM
    Perhaps I'm just too microsoftish, but while I was able to read the article, I still have no clue what features the os has and which it doesn't. Can't someone translate it into plain english? or are people just expected to know what DRI2, clutter and the other things mentioned are? I know sse3, as that is a hardware thing, and not a linux one ....

    Basicly what I read was :
    Intel modified a linux system to run well on their second newest architecture. This includes very good boot times (not sure what it compares to). It doesn't do 3d well, but might in future. The gui won't nessecarily be satisfactory, but might be in future. The battery time influence is guesswork, and compatibility is not mentioned at all. It supports features of some sort, and has included some software that some people not using windows might know.

    Basicly that's what I read - not very enlightening
  • 0 Hide
    aracheb , January 30, 2009 11:59 AM
    well it looks like that vista really screw it up for Microsoft.
    I'm not blaming this to vista, but since vista is so heavy weight i can't be shove into a netbook, and windows xp is running obsolete so it looks like that vista really did it for Microsoft. Not only Intel, but also hp is taking the same approach on building their own Operating system, because of Microsoft decision of shoving Vista into our assess. It wont be long before all the company that are working on their independent OS unify and built one OS..
  • 2 Hide
    JimmiG , January 30, 2009 12:05 PM
    Great another Linux distribution! Just what the world needs. As if the 58532 distros already available aren't enough to satisfy everyone...
  • 0 Hide
    aracheb , January 30, 2009 12:43 PM
    JimmiGGreat another Linux distribution! Just what the world needs. As if the 58532 distros already available aren't enough to satisfy everyone...

    the problem is not on the distros (is in the support behind it). and how well it is marketed... Intel have both, market and money to make a bit hit distro.. Let see. for an example of a well marketed and beautifully applied distro of unix/linux look at macos..
    and everybody love macos..
  • 1 Hide
    WheelsOfConfusion , January 30, 2009 1:18 PM
    neiroatopelccPerhaps I'm just too microsoftish, but while I was able to read the article, I still have no clue what features the os has and which it doesn't. Can't someone translate it into plain english?

    Xserver lets Linux/Unix use GUIs. It's the counterpart to GDI in Windows, I think.
    XFCE is a desktop environtment (the actual graphical interface you see when you log on, which is basically everything you can see that isn't a command line). That includes the file manager (Explorer in Windows, Thunar in XFCE). In the Linux world, XFCE is a "lightweight" DE that's less of a resource-hog than the two most popular DEs (Gnome and KDE). That's probably why the chose it to test out Moblin: it won't choke an Atom.
    Clutter is the software toolkit they chose for making applications that will run on the new Moblin distro.
  • 0 Hide
    neiroatopelcc , January 30, 2009 1:35 PM
    Excellent explanation. So xfce is the graphical shell, and xserver is just the library system needed to power it. Thanks.
  • 0 Hide
    WheelsOfConfusion , January 31, 2009 1:27 AM
    Yes. That.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , January 31, 2009 2:11 PM
    XP is still the number one for netbooks.
    Windows 7 is more loaded then XP,and apart from looks has only very little to offer over XP.
    DX10 does not apply to Atom notebooks due to it's limited hardware compatibility.
    It wouldn't make sense anyways to see someone trying to play DX10 games on an atom powered pc.

    As for linux, I wouldn't want to trade my .exe files for .tar.gz and having to ./configure them...
    As long as Linux hasn't got 3D acceleration as windows (non opengl), it's not really worth the switch to me...
  • 1 Hide
    WheelsOfConfusion , January 31, 2009 4:51 PM
    ProDigit80As for linux, I wouldn't want to trade my .exe files for .tar.gz and having to ./configure them...

    Or you could just stick with the provided Package Manager and install pre-compiled .rpms and .debs.

    "As long as Linux hasn't got 3D acceleration as windows (non opengl), it's not really worth the switch to me..."
    What do you mean "hasn't got 3D acceleration"? What's wrong with OpenGL?
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , February 1, 2009 2:38 PM
    I'm already running the beta edition of Windows 7 on my netbook (AA1 with 160gb HD & 1gb ram). It runs perfectly fine. Yes the machine is not the fastest but that's not what I paid for. It is a travel machine; I plug in a gps, take it on flights & road trips. It runs IE & winamp fine. That's all I want from it. Who needs another operating system?
  • 0 Hide
    funkjunky , February 3, 2009 4:21 PM
    WheelsOfConfusionXserver lets Linux/Unix use GUIs. It's the counterpart to GDI in Windows, I think. XFCE is a desktop environtment (the actual graphical interface you see when you log on, which is basically everything you can see that isn't a command line). That includes the file manager (Explorer in Windows, Thunar in XFCE). In the Linux world, XFCE is a "lightweight" DE that's less of a resource-hog than the two most popular DEs (Gnome and KDE). That's probably why the chose it to test out Moblin: it won't choke an Atom. Clutter is the software toolkit they chose for making applications that will run on the new Moblin distro.


    I think this is the point. Distros are usually created in 2 flavours: feature-full, and light weight. The feature-full are the ones end users like. It has everything they need. The light weight is usually for the geeks with old computers they want to keep running, or servers they want to minimize loads with.

    However their isn't much of an inbetween. Everything I've heard of that is inbetween tailors too much to the technical crowd. They need something like ubuntu, without the footprint it has. This is probably why intel jumped in and as someone else said, they have money and marketing, so this could be big =).
  • 0 Hide
    WheelsOfConfusion , February 3, 2009 5:57 PM
    XFCE is really only "lightweight" compared to GNOME and KDE. From what I understand, XFCE and Enlightenment are both pretty hefty as far as the "geeks who want to keep old computers running" crowd goes, just not as much as the other two. Since Intel said they wouldn't be using XFCE in the final version, I imagine they're working on a customized Fluxbox interface or something along those lines, tailored with enough features to give people the equivalent of the Eee pc's "easy" interface.