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ASUS Motherboard Ships With Embedded Linux 216

Michael writes "ASUSTek has introduced the P5E3 Deluxe motherboard, which in addition to using Intel's new X38 Chipset also features a soon-to-be-announced technology by DeviceVM. SplashTop is an instant-on Linux desktop environment that is embedded onto this motherboard. Within seconds of turning on the P5E3 Deluxe motherboard, you can boot into this Linux environment that currently features a Mozilla-based web browser and the Skype VoIP client. Browser and VoIP settings can be saved and there are plans for the device to provide new features and support via updates. At Phoronix is a review of this $360 motherboard embedded with Linux and a web browser."
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ASUS Motherboard Ships With Embedded Linux

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  • Gotcha (Score:5, Informative)

    by DrJimbo ( 594231 ) on Sunday October 07, 2007 @02:58AM (#20885817)
    On page 3, TFA says:

    To update Express Gate though you will need to be running Windows on the hard drive in order to run the ASUS utility.
  • Updating the system (Score:5, Informative)

    by ctid ( 449118 ) on Sunday October 07, 2007 @02:59AM (#20885823) Homepage
    Sadly, you will have to be running Windows if you want to update the internal environment. From the Phoronix article:

    This SplashTop Browser also includes Adobe's Linux Flash plug-in, so web-sites depending upon Flash will work out of the box. ASUS intends to issue free updates to Express Gate for the P5E3 Deluxe from their website in order to update the browser and enable any additional functionality or new programs. To update Express Gate though you will need to be running Windows on the hard drive in order to run the ASUS utility. The SplashTop Browser we were running was their Community Preview v0.9.0.1 edition.

    I think this is a shame (to put it mildly). Hopefully the specifications for the update process will be published so that a Linux solution can be produced.

  • Re:Oh the irony (Score:5, Informative)

    by houstonbofh ( 602064 ) on Sunday October 07, 2007 @03:04AM (#20885843)
    According to the GPL, they will have to release the source code and the tool set. That means a Linux updater, and a custom firmware fairly quickly. Unless they they decide to play fast and loose with the GPL... Or if it is just a pig.
  • Re:Use? (Score:5, Informative)

    by dch24 ( 904899 ) on Sunday October 07, 2007 @03:31AM (#20885955) Journal
    Just brainstorming some possibilities for a diskless HTPC:
    • I googled "diskless htpc". This looks promising []. It doesn't have details, though.
    • Boot from a linux install on a USB thumb drive.
    • Boot from a "Persistent Live USB []" (or google for things like "casper" and "casper-rw")
    • Netboot (PXE boot), and set up an NFS root [] or SMB root (not sure if SMB root has been done before)
    • Netboot or boot from USB, and run from a ramdrive root. Then even if network goes down, system still has basic functionality (net being down is more of an issue on a home network and an always-on HTPC)
    The other issue is the instant-on behavior. I looked at this a while ago when I was installing a uATX motherboard in my car. I'd say the biggest problem is the time it takes for the BIOS to POST. I timed it at 7 sec. Even when I had my kernel booting in 2 sec. and a GUI loaded in 2 sec. (initng, not loading X, small root partition), the BIOS was taking way too long.

    I'm waiting for better LinuxBIOS and kexec support.
  • Re:interesting (Score:5, Informative)

    by JoshJ ( 1009085 ) on Sunday October 07, 2007 @04:00AM (#20886045) Journal
    It's interesting, actually. Pro-Linux posts get modded troll and flamebait with some regularity now. I haven't been a very Slashdotter for a long time, but the Microsoft fanboys (shills/astroturfers?) definitely have a much larger influence on moderation than they used to. They've deliberately attacked people that were consistently posting pro-linux stuff: just look at what they did to twitter, whose account is currently sitting in negative karma hell after having ACs copypaste the same exact diatribe at him for months. I got sick of seeing it and I'm not even the guy they were targeting.

    Eventually, it's become more and more obvious that there are people whose sole purpose for BEING on Slashdot is to simply bash Linux even though Slashdot is by its very nature a Linux website. Why they find it enjoyable or interesting or even a worthwhile use of their time is beyond me- I simply don't see why anyone who doesn't use Linux would come to Slashdot, load a Linux article, and mindlessly bash Linux. Why not just play some of Windows games that you like so much, you know?
  • Re:How much? (Score:3, Informative)

    by DigiShaman ( 671371 ) on Sunday October 07, 2007 @04:07AM (#20886075) Homepage
    There's a market for them because they obviously sell. But when I'm talking about "our" market, I'm talking about the Slashdot crowd. I will almost guarantee that most people here do NOT want an "all-in-one" board.

    These all-in-one boards are for two types of people. The first type are for overclockers that want all those extra tweaking features found only with these type of boards. The second type is for entry-level PC builders. No serious enthusiast will DARE build one with the idea of actually using these on-board features. Those that do, simply disable them and use their own expansion cards.

    So you want to tell me again that I don't know WHAT THE FUCK I'M talking about?! Go on buddy, just try it!
  • Re:Oh the irony (Score:3, Informative)

    by jd ( 1658 ) <> on Sunday October 07, 2007 @04:11AM (#20886105) Homepage Journal
    Well, a 5 second boot time and a Flash image of Linux matches the specs and description of LinuxBIOS. If that is what they are using, then there is really nothing much for them to release other than maybe some minor patches. I would consider them entirely in compliance with the GPL if they provide their own additions (in full) and how those additions are added, along with a comprehensive set of package names, versions, URLs of master sources, and so on. Actually hosting more than they wrote would seem to be unnecessary, so long as EVERYTHING is made available.

    However, given that this is almost certainly just a LinuxBIOS-flased motherboard with a mini distro on whatever bytes were left over, I'd say that it should be possible to produce a comparable system on any motherboard that is capable of holding a Flash chip of the necessary size. (This will be a LOT bigger than normal, so you may hit a whole bunch of design limitations.) It should therefore be possible to sell LinuxBIOS + BIOSdistros for any motherboard out there that can handle the chip, as an upgrade.

    I support ASUS' experimentation - that's good - but people need to see that it's late in coming and it's more limited than the technology supports. Motherboard companies shouldn't be permitted to move as slow as possible and drag their feet when it creates the delusion that technology is more limited than it really is. The pace needs to be upped a little - just enough to show the consumers that they've been paying top dollar for decade-old components.

  • Re:LinuxBIOS (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 07, 2007 @04:24AM (#20886159)
    Linux BIOS works with so few motherboards that I gave up on it sometime ago.

    It doesn't seem to be going anywhere.
  • by Gadget_Guy ( 627405 ) on Sunday October 07, 2007 @04:36AM (#20886213)

    This is obviously intended to allow you to quickly make a phone call or look something up on the net. It is not supposed to be a replacement for your entire operating system. If you want to save files, watch DVDs or run your business software then boot your hard drive!

    I couldn't count how many times I have booted up my computer just to look up a bus timetable, or the TV guide or just check my mail. And how handy would it be to be able to quickly look at the slashdot headlines while your wife goes back to try on another outfit before you head out.

    If the boot time can be believed, you could go from off to reading the /. front page in around 20 seconds. How cool is that?

    And I want to set up a temporary Internet cafe at conferences. This would be an ideal, non-hackable environment.

  • by ChunderDownunder ( 709234 ) on Sunday October 07, 2007 @04:59AM (#20886301)
    To be fair, clicking on the URL gave me a login prompt saying restricted access before 10/10/07.

    Slashdotted or vaporware?
  • Re:Use? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Antique Geekmeister ( 740220 ) on Sunday October 07, 2007 @07:06AM (#20886765)
    This is incredibly useful for hardware that's having installation problems, so you can boot one machine with the Linux and check the console messages on the other with the support staff on the phone, or probe your hardware or network from the Linux to see why your normal boot system isn't working.
  • Re:interesting (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 07, 2007 @03:16PM (#20889943)
    I'm a long-time lurker who reads this Slashdot site assiduously. The pro-Microsoft astroturfing started very suddenly and all at once at a very defineable time (I didn't log the exact date, but it was a year or two ago, very noticeable, an almost overnight change). There is no doubt whatsoever that it is a *very* calculated move ... one so calculated, that on the contrary, rather than seeming "conspiratorial," the odds are extremly doubtful that it isn't precipitated by the organization itself.
  • Website is viewable (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 07, 2007 @05:24PM (#20890937)
  • by Joce640k ( 829181 ) on Sunday October 07, 2007 @06:26PM (#20891401) Homepage
    You can already do this with a live CD (or the leaner "sysresccd" which fits on one of those little 3" CDs).

    The only advantage of having Linux in flash is that it boots in five seconds.

"An organization dries up if you don't challenge it with growth." -- Mark Shepherd, former President and CEO of Texas Instruments