Practical Technology

for practical people.

Meet Linpus Linux


The number two laptop maker in the world, Acer, has joined in the Linux-powered UMPC (Ultra Mobile PC) rush. Their Linux of choice for their forthcoming 512MB to 1GB of RAM mini-computers is Linpus Linux. “Linpus who,” you ask?

Linpus is not a well-known Linux distributor. You won’t even find it listed on DistroWatch‘s listing of 100 Linux distributions. Linpus is not, however, a Linux newcomer.

The company has actually been working with Linux since 1997. Its primary focus has been on research and development and offering open-source engineering services to IT and OEM (original equipment manufacturers) customers in Taiwan.

Linpus offers the usual selection of desktop and server Linux distributions. It also has quietly offered a media server edition, Linpus Media Center. Now, though, with the presence of Linpus 9.4 Lite on Acer’s UMPCs, a lot more people are going to meet this distribution.

The Linpus Linus distribution is based on Red Hat’s Fedora. One major difference from the usual Fedora setup is that Linpus uses KDE 3.4x as its desktop instead of GNOME. The UMPC version, Linpus Lite, uses the lightweight Xfce 4.1.1 for its desktop.

This new tiny distribution is designed to run on just about any x86-based computer. The company claims it will run on almost any Intel, AMD or VIA CPU that runs at 366MHz and up. I’m pretty sure I haven’t bought a PC with a processor that slow this century. Linpus Lite also requires only 128MBs of RAM and half-a-gigabyte of hard drive space to run.

Fortunately, you won’t need to run it on prehistoric system unless you really want to. Linpus is joining the Moblin project and will further Linpus Lite’s development by adopting the Moblin Linux stack. This spin on Linux is optimized for the Intel Atom chipset family.

Since Linpus already supports Mobile WiMax and Wi-Fi and works closely with hardware vendors, it shouldn’t take long for the next Moblin-enhanced Linpus Lite to appear on store shelves. In fact, since Linpus and Acer showed test versions of the new Linux running on Acer demo systems, it seems a safe bet that by the time you’re able to buy an Acer UMPC with Linux, it will be this version that will be running on it.