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!