In an interesting move for Ubuntu, the BBC reports on the development of the Linux based OS to enable it to be used on the small netbooks and smartphones.
Mobile phone chip designer Arm has announced an alliance with the makers of the Ubuntu open source software.
The deal will produce a version of the operating system for small net-browsing computers known as netbooks.
It marks a departure for Arm, which before now has been best known for designing the chips inside smartphones and feature phones.
The new operating system for Arm-powered machines looks set to be available in April 2009.
Ubuntu has certainly for many people allowed them to experience Linux in a way which is friendly and comfortable. Likewise the Linux distribution on the Asus EeePC has also introduced Linux to a new audience and I suspect that it is this distro that has motivated Arm and Ubuntu to form an alliance.
As can be heard in our podcast on the netbook these small low powered wireless laptops are proving very popular (often as a second computer) and are now cost so little that they are starting to be a real option for many learners.
Unbuntu is a very user-friendly Linux distribution and unlike the EeePC distro is much easier to install different applications with it. Will be interesting to see how this works.
The discussion starts off looking at the role of the Asus EeePC and other netbooks on e-learning on colleges across the UK. The discussion also looks at the variety of presentation software now available from PowerPoint to Keynote, Open Office to Google Docs. Then there is other stuff as well…
ZuiPrezi is a zooming presentation editor which allows you to easily create stunning presentations. With the help of ZuiPrezi you can create dynamic and visually structured zooming maps of texts, images, videos, PDFs, drawings. ZuiPrezi has a very intuitive interface and support for online sharing.
Create professional video for the classroom with the click of a button! Animoto combines your images and music to produce video with the visual impact of a music video.
Using Flowgram you can create interactive guided presentations by combining web pages, photos, Power Point and more with your voice, notes and highlights. Viewers can control the pages, scroll, click on links, view videos and more. An example Flowgram that was made by James.
Dell is the biggest PC maker in the world and the fact that they have entered the market shows how big and how serious this market is to PC makers.
For a lot of consumers this is their second computer, their main computer is a desktop machine which sits at home. The micro-laptop (umpc) format allows them to have a second computer which is very portable. Though similar or slightly more expensive “proper” sized laptops are available, it is the extreme portability of these laptops that are one of the main attractions. The fact it has a proper keyboard is another feature which other UMPCs and portable devices lack and it would seem people like a proper keyboard – even if it is on the small side.
From an e-learning perspective this is a device (format) which I know learners like (from our MoLeNET experiences) and I would suspect that a lot of learners in FE will start buying (or will be bought) these computers. At a price point not much more than a gaming console (or even less) it might be seriously considered as a present for someone attending an FE College.
Also with the growth of student wireless networks in FE, this will allow internet connectivity which turns it from a “dumb” computer to a connected internet device. Even in those institutions without the bandwidth for a student wireless network, those learners may consider getting a 3G USB dongle.
Already I have “caught” a learner in our Library, using an Asus EeePC with a Three 3G USB dongle for learning!
Okay before I mentioned how Asus were releasing a new 9″ version of their EeePC, well according to Engadget they are going to release a 10″ version!
As if it weren’t official enough already, the subnote war is on. According to a Computex invitation from ASUS, the outfit is planning to not only showcase the Eee PC 901, but also a brand new variant that will likely go mano a mano with the 10-inch MSI Wind. We quote: “[ASUS] would also like to specially extend an invitation to you to attend the official global launch of the new Eee PC 901 and 1000 series.” There’s no details beyond that right there, but it’s plenty to whet our appetites on the heels of the 10.6-inch Eee PC 1001 evidence we’ve already collected
So would you count this machine as an UMPC? Well strictly no.
BBC reports on how Microsoft is making it easier and cheaper for manufacturers to put Windows XP on the current plethora of micro low cost laptops (such as the Asus EeePC) that are currently very popular.
The price cuts will only be available for ultra-portable laptops that meet a strict set of specifications.
The move is widely seen as an attempt by Microsoft to bolster its market share in one of the PC industry sectors showing growth.
Low-powered laptops, such as the Asus Eee PC, are proving hugely popular in developed nations and in projects trying to bridge the digital divide.
I am sure that (depsite the ease of use) the fact that many of these cheap laptops run Linux have put off many a purchaser (as does Mac OS X put off potential purchasers of the Mac) the fact that you will soon be able to have Windows XP on the laptop without a huge increase in the cost of the device will make these low cost laptops even more popular.
Regardless of whether we think these are good or bad devices, I have certainly seen quite a few now in the college, including one a student was using (with Windows XP on it) and a Three 3G dongle for access to the internet.
I think more and more of our learners will start to buy these. One of the main attractions other that price is the portability, the small size means it is very easy to carry on the bus or in a bag as you move around college. Before if you wanted a small micro laptop, the only real choice was from Sony and these cost a lot, five or six times the current price of the Asus EeePC.
Expect to see more of these devices in your college.
Engadget has a nice feature on the growth of Linux based UMPCs.
ASUS set the pace with Xandros on the Eee PC, and HP has tapped Novel SuSE Linux for the 2133 Mini-Note, but whereas the Eee’s positioning has been somewhat of a loose hybrid between an adult OLPC and the Nintendo Wii’s culture of global inclusion, the HP Mini-Note has been strongly focused on reckless, immature students while acknowledging potential for senior executives that have been known to share their temperament.
It’s interesting to see how this product niche has almost appeared from nowhere and is growing rapidly.
It seems to be a product that appeals to people who already own a computer, but want a laptop (and a small laptop at that) to complement it. The advantage of these little Linux laptops as well as the small size is the small price.
I have already seen quite a few of these laptops in college, brought in by learners, so I am expecting to see more of them.
Seems I am not the only one enamoured with Asus’ tiny little linux based UMPC.
The Asus EEE PC perched on my knee combines GNU software with a Linux kernel powered by an Intel Celeron Mobile Processor to produce a very extraordinary little laptop. It weighs less than a kilogram, starts up from cold in about 12 seconds and shuts down in five. It has no internal hard disk and no CD drive. It offers 512MB of RAM, 4GB of storage and a seven-inch display; wireless, dial-out modem and ethernet adaptors are available for networking and internet connections, three USB ports, mini-jack sockets for headphones and microphone, a VGA out, an SD card slot and a built-in webcam. All for about £200 – less than the price of a show, dinner and taxi for two in London’s West End.