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IBM, Canonical to sell Ubuntu-ready netbooks in Africa

Mar 26, 2010 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 5 views

IBM, Canonical and Simmtronics today announced they will market a low-cost, Intel Atom-based Simmtronics netbook in emerging markets. The Simmbook will be preloaded with the IBM Client for Smart Work Linux distro, based on Ubuntu Netbook Remix, and will first be made available in Africa for just $190, says IBM.

In addition to Africa, the Linux-ready Simmbook will also be available in India, Thailand, and Vietnam, says IBM. The Simmbook is preloaded with IBM Client for Smart Work, which includes IBM Lotus Symphony, access to IBM LotusLive cloud collaboration services, and the choice of adding other IBM Lotus collaboration software such as Lotus Notes and Lotus Sametime, says the company.

Simmtronics Simmbook

Announced in December 2008, IBM Client for Smart Work is based on the VERDE virtualization technology from Virtual Bridges. The cloud-oriented distribution includes the Ubuntu Netbook Remix version of the Ubuntu Linux distro, as well as Linux versions of IBM's Open Collaboration Client Solution software (OCCS), based on IBM Lotus Symphony, Lotus Notes, and other Lotus applications.

Ubuntu Netbook Remix 10.04, showing new EFL-based 2D launcher

Last September, IBM and Canonical announced they would offer IBM Client for Smart Work in Africa. A month later, IBM announced it would also offer a version aimed at corporate users, available worldwide.

IBM Client for Smart Work is touted as a way to help companies save up to 50 percent per seat on software costs versus a Microsoft-based desktop. The cost savings are based on the fact that users can run a combination of Web-based applications and Linux on their existing PCs, netbooks, and thin client.

Simmtronics Simbook

The Simmtronics Simbook is a standard-issue 10.1-inch netbook, notable primarily for the fact that it is offered with Ubuntu instead of just Windows. The 1.6GHz Intel Atom N270 CPU is combined with a 82945GSE northbridge and ICH7M controller, as well as 1GB of DDR2 RAM, says Simmtronics. An SD memory card reader is available, along with a 160GB SATA hard disk drive (HDD), expandable to 500GB, says the company.

Simmbook in red

In addition to offering a 10.1-inch, 1024 x 600 resolution display, the Simmbook provides a fast Ethernet port, three USB 2.0 ports, a VGA port, and audio ports, says Simmtronics. Other features are said to include a 1.3-megapixel camera, speaker, microphone, and a PCIe interface with support for WiFi. The Simmbook comes standard with a three-cell 2200mAh battery, which is upgradeable to a six-cell 4400mAh model, says the company.

The announcement was made in South Africa, which appears to be the initial target of the netbook package. Ubuntu founder and South African native Mark Shuttleworth explains in the video below how cloud computing is particularly suitable to emerging nations. He notes, however, that an important next step in the Client for Smart Work initiative is to provide the infrastructure in emerging countries for "pervasive bandwidth."


Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth in YouTube video on deploying Client for Smart Work in Africa
(Source: YouTube) (Click to enlarge)

Stated Indrajit Sabharwal, founder and managing director, Simmtronics Semiconductors Limited, "Netbooks are quickly becoming the norm instead of desktop computers for many businesses worldwide. In emerging markets such as South Africa, businesses need a solution that addresses both price and value."

Stated Clifford Foster, IBM sub-Saharan CTO, "CIO's, IT directors and IT architects from all type of organizations in South Africa — even those that typically cannot afford new, expensive personal computers — can now legitimately consider netbooks instead of PCs for business use." Stated

Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Canonical, "It's exciting to see how computing is changing the lives of people in Africa and the new Simmbook provides a real testament of how important it is to get low-cost computing into Africa's economy."


The new Simmbook preloaded with IBM Client for Smart Work can be purchased online directly from Simmtronics using this order form, here. More information on the Simmbook may be found here.

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