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AMD’s PIC boots Linux

Sep 8, 2006 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive

AMD's PIC (personal Internet computer), an inexpensive Windows CE-based computer aimed at developing nations, has successfully booted Linux, according to a Siamese Wiki devoted to the OLPC (One Laptop per Child) initiative. The Wiki shows the PIC runing Edubuntu, as well as an OLPC development image.

(Click for larger view of PIC running OLPC development image)

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running Edubuntu

(Click to enlarge)

AMD's x86-based PIC design debuted in the fall of 2004, about a year before the OLPC project was conceived. Both devices aim to bring computing to developing nations with limited financial resources. While the OLPC was designed to run Linux, the PIC has in the past been tied to Windows CE at the BIOS level.

Now, an apparent “second generation” version of the PIC appears to have been successfully booted into Linux, according to a primarily Thai-language OLPC Wiki hosted by the Computer and Peripheral Testing Laboratory, an independent testing lab located in the Thailand Science Park, near Bangkok University.

Booting Edubuntu from a USB thumb drive
(Click to enlarge)

The Thai Wiki's hardware section shows several pictures of the PIC booting Edubuntu from a hard drive attached to the PIC's onboard IDE connector. The site also says that if the PIC's RAM is increased from 128MB to 256MB, the device can run Edubuntu “very smooth” from a 512MB USB storage device, such as a pen/thumb drive.

Edubuntu is an educationally-oriented version of the highly popular Ubuntu Linux operating system.

The Wiki includes Nbench benchmark results for PICs running Linux under both configurations.

(Click for details)

About the PIC

Key PIC hardware target specs, according to AMD, include:

  • Processor subsystem — AMD Geode GX processor, with CS5535 companion device
  • Memory — 128 MB DDR SDRAM
  • Hard drive — internal 10 GB 3.5-inch drive
  • Display interface — VGA 1600 x 1200 resolution, at 85 Hz
  • LAN interface — 10/100 Mbps Ethernet
  • Four USB 1.1 ports (2 front, 2 rear)
  • Modem — internal 56 Kbps ITU v.92 Fax/Modem
  • Sound — AC'97 audio with stereo in/out jacks
  • Size — 8.5 x 5.5 x 2.5 inches
  • Weight — approx. 3 pounds

For more details about the PIC, and its historically crippled BIOS, be sure to read our earlier coverage, here.

The Siamese Wiki posting can be found here.


AMD did not respond by publication time to questions about availability and pricing of second-generation PIC models capable of booting Linux.

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