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Linux-ready mini-PC powers up

Sep 15, 2009 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 1 views

Linutop announced the third generation of its compact Linux-based PC. Larger and with twice the memory of previous models, the Linutop 3 has a 1GHz Via C7 CPU, gigabit Ethernet, dual SATA ports, and PCIe expansion, the company says.

Linutop's original "pocketable" Linutop 1 computer shipped in 2007, and in February 2008, the French mini-PC vendor introduced the slightly larger Linutop 2, which is equipped with a 500MHz Geode processor. Like the first two models, the Linutop 3 is touted as being suitable for standalone PC use, terminal use, kiosks, or digital signage.

The Linutop 3 offers a more powerful Via C7 CPU clocked to 1GHz, presumably along with the usual Via CX700 northbridge/southbridge chipset. The new computer offers twice the standard and flash memory of the Linutop 2, with 1GB of DDR2, expandable to 2GB, and 2GB of flash, says Linutop.

Linutop 3: more powerful, but no longer quite so pocketable
(Click to enlarge)

The Linutop 3 can be connected to any VGA or DVI monitor (or with an additional adapter, HDMI) for resolutions of up to 1920 x 1080 pixels, says the company. The new box has moved up from fast Ethernet to gigabit Ethernet, and adds two more USB 2.0 ports for a total of six. The box is also said to gain a serial port, dual SATA ports, and a PCIe connection.

Linutop 3, front and back
(Click to enlarge)

All those upgrades come at a cost, however. Despite the relatively energy efficient (nine Watts) Via C7, overall power consumption jumps to just under 20 Watts, compared to less than six Watts for the Linutop 1 and eight Watts for the still-shipping Linutop 2. The computer is still fanless, but it is also considerably larger, expanding from 5.5 x 5.5 x 1.4 inches to a new footprint of 9.3 x 9.3 x 2.2 inches, and with the weight ballooning to four pounds.

The Linutop3 adds a security feature that, by limiting write cycles, can lock software and protect the flash memory from wearing out, says the company. Once protected, the computer is said to "recover its state at each startup, minimizing maintenance costs."

The USB-bootable Linux distribution can be fully backed up and run on a USB key, simplifying duplication of configurations for mass installations. Last November, Linutop announced that its Ubuntu 8.04-based Linutop OS 2.2 distro was available on a USB key (pictured) targeting Asus Eee PCs.

Pre-installed Linux software includes Firefox, OpenOffice, and the VLC Media player, with1.4GB of flash left over to add other software packages, says the company. Linutop 3 also includes remote management, PXE Boot thin client software, a network manager, and digital signage demos. (More Linutop OS 2.2 apps are listed in our previous coverage, here.)

Specifications listed for the Linutop 3 include:

  • Processor — Via C7 clocked at 1GHz (BGA; 9 Watt consumption)
  • Memory — 1GB DDR2, upgradable to 2GB, and 2GB of flash storage
  • Display — VGA and DVI ports; up to 1920 x 1080 resolution
  • Networking — 1 x gigabit Ethernet port
  • Other I/O:
    • 2 x SATA
    • USB — 6 x USB 2.0 ports
    • Serial — 1 x COM port (RS232)
    • Audio — 2 x line-in; 2 x line-out (3.5mm)
  • Expansion — 1 x internal PCIe
  • Power — DC in 19V with 110 – 240V~ 50/60Hz AC adapter; less than 20 Watts consumption
  • Operating temperature — 50 to 104 deg. F (10 to 40 deg. C)
  • Dimensions — 9.3 x 9.3 x 2.2 inches (23.5 x 23.6 x 5.5 cm)
  • Weight — 4.0 lbs. (1.8 kg)
  • Operating system — Linutop OS 2.2 (based on Ubuntu Linux 8.04)


The Linutop 3 is available for about 340 Euros (about $497 U.S.), and the Linutop 2 sells for 280 Euros ($409), says the vendor. More information may be found here.

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