The first alpha release of Intel's Linux-based Moblin 2 platform is now available for download. It's designed to work on Atom-based netbook devices and it offers fast boot times and a unique Internet connection manager.
Intel has announced the availability of the first Moblin 2 alpha release. Moblin is an open source Linux-based platform that Intel is developing for Atom-based mobile devices. The company hopes to attract a community of third-party developers to contribute to the platform and target it with their applications. Moblin has already been adopted by several Linux distributors, including Linpus, GoS, and Mandriva. These distributors plan to build custom derivatives on top of the Moblin core.
The new alpha release is primarily intended for netbooks, and it is being provided to facilitate broader testing of some of Intel’s enhancements. It is still at a very early stage of development, however, and its final user interface is still far from complete.
Moblin 2 Alpha
As a placeholder, it’s currently running a pretty standard installation of the lightweight Xfce desktop environment. It includes Pimlico, an open source suite of lightweight PIM applications that were created by OpenedHand. Xfce will eventually be dropped in favor of a richer and more mobile-friendly user interface that is built with OpenedHand’s Clutter framework. Intel acquired OpenedHand last year.
Moblin is largely derived from Fedora, but it has a number of customizations that increase its suitability for mobile devices, including a unique Internet connection manager and improved boot performance. It’s designed for Intel-based hardware, particularly netbooks with Atom or Core 2 processors. According to the release notes, it has been tested and is known to work on the Acer Aspire One and the Dell Mini 9. It will also boot on the Asus Eee 901, but lacks support for the Eee’s wireless hardware.
The Moblin 2 alpha source code is available from the project’s version control repository. Users can generate custom images from the source with the Moblin Image Creator tool. You can also download prebuilt installable ISO images that can be booted from CD or flash storage media. I tested it myself on my Mini 9, and I was impressed by how quickly it booted.
It’s a pretty good start, but it’s very clearly still a work in progress, and it’s not something you want to install on your everyday-use netbook just yet. Intel is doing some great work under the hood, and it’s likely that we will see those enhancements being adopted by other distros. The user experience, however, still lags behind some of the Ubuntu-based netbook distros out there, including the custom Ubuntu flavor that ships on the Dell Mini 9 and third-party options such as Easy Peasy. When Intel brings a stronger UI to Moblin, it will look a lot more compelling to developers and end users.