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Media player turbo-charges PCs with Linux

Dec 19, 2006 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive

Asian Linux distributor TurboLinux is readying an iPod-like like device that doubles as a Linux boot drive. The “Wizpy” media player, set to ship in Japan in February, enables users to take their Linux with them, for added convenience, security, and privacy, the company says.

(Click for larger view of the Wizpy)

As a portable media player, the Wizpy will support DivX video; Ogg, MP3, and AAC audio files; and JPEG photos. It appears to be based on solid-state flash storage, rather than on a hard drive, since it weighs only 60 grams (2.1 ounces). Turbolinux has not yet specified the device's capacity, however.

The Wizpy comes pre-installed with the Turbolinux distribution for PC desktops. The environment includes a browser, email client, and office software, and will likely support “double-byte” Chinese and Japanese languages, given Turbolinux's long history of contributions in that area.

Turbolinux says Wizpy will save users from lugging laptops, and from risking data on unattended home and office PCs. It will also enable them to use public PCs at cafes and libraries without leaving any traces behind, according to the company.

Available Wizpy specifications include:

  • PC OS includes browser, email, and office software
  • Audio player supports OGG, MP3, and ACC
  • MP3 voice recorder
  • FM radio
  • JPEG viewer
  • DivX video player
  • Text viewer
  • Size — 3.3 x 1.6 x 0.5 inches (84 x 42 x 12mm)
  • Weight — 2.1 ounces (60 grams)

Booting PCs from USB

Any device capable of acting as a USB storage device can be used for booting a PC into an operating system such as Linux. The only requisite is new enough BIOS firmware to support USB booting, or else a USB-enabled initrd kernel that can be loaded from a floppy, CD, or the PC's hard drive. Thus, mobile phones, digital cameras, gaming devices, PDAs, USB storage keys, and many other consumer devices could in theory be used as PC boot devices.

Few consumer USB devices have come pre-installed with Linux, however. One example is the tiny, half-ounce (15-gram), necklace-worn Shinco Medaillon Z2 music player (pictured at right), which shipped pre-installed with a Mandrake Linux. Additionally, a wide variety of tiny flash- and hard drive-based devices are available pre-installed with Linux, including the Zinside H2 tiny hard drive dongle, the Realm Systems high-security Mobile Personal Server and Black Dog devices, and FingerGear's bio-protected “Computer-on-a-stick”. IBM's “SoulPad” project has researched using USB boot devices to de-couple PC “souls” from physical PCs.


Turbolinux expects to begin distributing Wizpy in Japan in February. Pricing was not disclosed.

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