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Linux-based diskless notebook costs under $300

Apr 17, 2008 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

[Updated at 3:40] — A British Columbia-based startup called InkMedia announced an under-$300 notebook that runs embedded Linux. Based on a Via chip, the Ink Mobile Computer (Ink MC) depends on flash-based storage and offers an 8.6-inch SVGA display, four USB slots, Ethernet, and WiFi.

(Click for larger view of InkMedia's Ink MC)

Ink MC

InkMedia did not reveal the clock rate of the Ink MC, but said that the device has 2GB of NAND flash, which contains a compressed version of the read-only file system. The system also comes with a 128MB flash stick and two SD slots.

The notebook supports 800×600 true color SVGA, says InkMedia, as well as 1024×768 True Color when hooked up to an external monitor. The computer can be configured to ship with up to seven different language packs, and is said to offer a wide variety of preloaded open-source software (see below list).

The Ink MC is targeted both at developing and developed markets, says the company, and appears to have a particular, but not exclusive, focus on students. Founder and educator Gerry Morgan, former CEO of Morgan Media, was inspired to develop the notebook after becoming involved with an educational project called School Net India. According to InkMedia, Morgan grew frustrated with the high failure rate of the computers due to viruses. The Ink MC's flash-based design is said to be “impervious” to viruses, because it runs from a read-only flash filesystem, with all user data stored on a USB key.

InkMedia lists the following specs for the Ink MC:

  • VIA C7-M ULV Processor
  • Memory — 256MB; 1GB NAND flash ROM
  • External flash — 128MB flash stick/MP3 player; 2 x SD slots
  • Display — 8.6-inch SVGA display (4:3) with 800×600 True Color (1024 X 768 True Color when output to a monitor); MPEG2 hardware decoder
  • Networking — 1 x Ethernet
  • WiFi — 802.11 b/g
  • USB — 4 x USB 2.0 ports, 1 x USB 1.1 port (for keyboard)
  • AV interfaces — RGB video out; Stereo minipin audio out, line in, and mic in
  • Power — 110-220 V input power supply
  • Battery life — 5-8 hours
  • Productivity software — Open Office (word processor, spreadsheet, presentation, drawing)
  • Communications software — web browser, email, web conferencing, IM, VoIP, FTP
  • Graphics software — vector drawing, PDF reader, web design, publishing
  • Operating system — embedded Linux

Few details are available yet about the device's Linux-based operating system.


No information was provided by InkMedia on the availability of the Ink MC, but the price is expected to fall under $300, according to the company. More information may be available here.

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