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Linux-based mini PC upgraded

Feb 20, 2008 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 13 views

French mini-PC vendor Linutop is shipping an upgrade to its compact, Xubuntu Linux-based computing appliance. The Linutop 2 offers a faster 500MHz Geode processor, 512MB of RAM and 1GB of Flash, along with a new optional VESA mounting bracket.

The Linutop 1 shipped last May, and in November the company announced graphics and media player firmware updates that enable the device to serve as a DVB-T rendering device or digital video kiosk. (These are also available with the Linutop 2.) Both of the fanless Linutop models are touted as being suitable for either standalone PC or Linux terminal use, but the Linutop 1 is primarily designed to act as a web-surfing kiosk or digital sign computer, whereas the Linutop 2 is aimed more at the home desktop market.

Linutop 2: larger, but not by much
(Click to enlarge)

The Linutop 2 draws a bit less than 8 Watts compared to the Linutop 1's 5-Watt consumption, and its weight has doubled from 10 to 20 ounces. Its dimensions have both shrunk and grown, but it is larger overall, stretching the interpretation of “pocketable”. The Linutop 2 measures 5.5 x 1.4 x 5.5 inches (14 x 3.5 x 14 cm) compared to 3.7 x 1.1 x 5.9 inches for the earlier model. Yet, the new model has bulked up in more ways than one. In place of the earlier 433MHz AMD Geode LX 700, it now offers a 500MHz AMD Geode LX 800, which Linutop claims offers the equivalent performance of an 800MHz processor due to its “optimized energy efficient architecture.” The Linutop 2 is equipped with 512MB of internal memory that can be upgraded to 1GB, enabling it to run OpenOffice, which is preinstalled along with Firefox, the VLC Media player and other utilities. (The Linutop 1 lacks OpenOffice, but includes the AbiWord word processor.)

Linutop 2, front and back
(Click either view to enlarge)

Linutop 2 mounted with optional bracket
(Click to enlarge)

Like the Linutop 1, the Linutop 2 is equipped with audio I/O, speakers, 10/100 Ethernet, and four USB 2.0 ports, with optional USB WiFi. It offers 2D graphic acceleration, says Linutop, as well as VGA output at resolutions up to 1920 x 1440. The device is available with an optional mounting bracket that enables it be strapped onto the back of an LCD display. Unlike the Linutop 1, the Linotop 2 comes with the option of an AC power supply, so it can work with North American power outlets.

According to the company, a modified version of the Xubuntu LiveCD version of Ubuntu Linux is stored on the new allotment of 1GB of internal flash memory, along with productivity software, leaving 400MB free for other software and data. Flash storage can be expanded up to an additional 1GB via a USB key.

The OS cannot be altered by virus or mishap, says the company, and the initial state is recovered at each restart. To further discourage intruders, the box is said to be enclosed in a “strong aluminum case with security slot.” There's also a copy of PXE Boot available for thin client use.


Both the Linutop 2 and Linutop 1 are shipping now at the following prices (without VAT): Linutop 2 (280 Euros/$410 US); Linutop 1 (250 Euros/$366 US). As a reality check, the Linutop 1 debuted at 280 Euros last May, but at the time this translated into a US price of only $380 instead of today's $410. More information on the Linutop 2 can be found here.

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