Intel Releases Moblin 2 Alpha OS for Netbooks

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!

Marcus Yam
Marcus Yam served as Tom's Hardware News Director during 2008-2014. He entered tech media in the late 90s and fondly remembers the days when an overclocked Celeron 300A and Voodoo2 SLI comprised a gaming rig with the ultimate street cred.
  • Very nice to see this. Nicer still if it includes the GNU compiler collection.
  • StupidRabbit
    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...
  • apache_lives
    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
  • tipoo
    huh. so Intel wants to get in the software game, eh?
  • Is it open source?

    (of course not)
  • enewmen
    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.
  • WheelsOfConfusion
    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.
  • neiroatopelcc
    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
  • aracheb
    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..
  • JimmiG
    Great another Linux distribution! Just what the world needs. As if the 58532 distros already available aren't enough to satisfy everyone...