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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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  • by DavidRawling ( 864446 ) on Sunday October 07, 2007 @02:25AM (#20885659)
    All it's missing is iSCSI support for it to be a diskless yet completely functional desktop. Central storage (and upgrade) of apps, documents and settings, just by mounting the appropriate partitions from a large, fast shared disk array.
  • 2010s (Score:1, Interesting)

    by renrutal ( 872592 ) <> on Sunday October 07, 2007 @02:35AM (#20885719)
    It'd would be more generally useful if it only came with a OpenGL ES enabled GRUB + a micro Linux environment prepared with machine virtualization, which would run, semi-transparently, the other OSs by default, unless overrided.
  • by Xenna ( 37238 ) on Sunday October 07, 2007 @02:37AM (#20885733)
    Considering the name of the company and the (limited) text on their homepage. Wouldn't it be cool to have a motherboard with built in (ROM) virtualization software like Xen? Isn't that what they're really aiming for?

  • Re:Use? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by TheGratefulNet ( 143330 ) on Sunday October 07, 2007 @02:44AM (#20885757)
    I'm building a HTPC and I want it to be diskless, or at least no spinning disks. it has 1 fan for the whole pc, so far and if I can eliminate a spindle in the drive and make it solid state, that's ideal.

    even more ideal is instant boot TO linux.

    ultimate: being able to mount samba shares and playback HD content (normal .mpg is fine with me, in HD size) and send to dvi and spdif locally. if you can be 100% fanless and instant on and do all that, I'll pay MORE than its worth. the synergy of all that would be worth it.

    I will look at all solutions that offer a way to avoid a spinning disk drive. for a bedroom or quiet room HTPC, yup, I sure will.

  • Oh the irony (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Barnoid ( 263111 ) on Sunday October 07, 2007 @02:59AM (#20885827)
    This could be very useful for backup/recovery or testing purposes, eliminating the need for a live CD. However, the intended purpose seems to be a completely different one: "With a fast boot-up speed of only 5 seconds, the ASUS Express Gate offers an optional Linux OS boot-up that allows you to enjoy instant access to commonly used functions like accessing the Internet, VoIP, and Web emailing without entering the OS."

    Who would want to boot into a crippled Linux where you cannot mount external drives just to browse the internet or make Skype calls?

    At least it can be updated, so ASUS might provide more functional versions in the future. However,
    from TFA: "To update Express Gate [the embedded linux] though you will need to be running Windows on the hard drive in order to run the ASUS utility."

    Now, that's just great...
  • Re:Use? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jah-Wren Ryel ( 80510 ) on Sunday October 07, 2007 @03:27AM (#20885939)

    What's the point? All it can do is surf the internet and make phone calls.
    Surf the internet from a read-only OS. No worries about trojans or key-loggers. Seems like it would be an ideal way to do online-banking and other sensitive types of activities without worry that your system was compromised.
  • two possibilities (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Verte ( 1053342 ) on Sunday October 07, 2007 @03:28AM (#20885947)
    I wonder if the ability to mount other media is restricted in the BIOS or the actual system.

    If it is the latter, and since the system can be updated from a running OS, it should be possible to put your kernel, servers and window manager in the flash and have most of your operating system boot instantly. And I have no doubt that if that is the case, some very clever person who was given one of these will work out how to do just that. Given that this does use a Linux kernel, it shouldn't be too hard to get source for any hardware specific issues you might find in booting from this.

    Otherwise, this is pretty boring. There has been software available to, say, play media without booting into your operating system for ages.
  • LinuxBIOS (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RAMMS+EIN ( 578166 ) on Sunday October 07, 2007 @04:03AM (#20886061) Homepage Journal
    So how does this compare to LinuxBIOS?

    I'll start:


      - More capabilities, freedom to tinker
      - Less expensive hardware
      - Usually not supported by vendor, doesn't work with lots of motherboards
  • Re:Use? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DingerX ( 847589 ) on Sunday October 07, 2007 @06:27AM (#20886631) Journal
    Err... Use?

    This is one of them '38 Mobos. Top-of-the-line. It has all kinds of other fancy bits that can't be used yet either. But think of it:

    A $360 motherboard targets two groups: 1. the price-insensitive freaks who think they'll be getting the best of everything if they shell out a ton of cash, and 2. serious overclockers/hardware hackers/tech geeks.

    Most people in both groups will find it completely useless, right up there with the fourth SATA channel. But some of group (1) will show it off as part of their interminable "look at my toys" spiel they suffer upon visiting males and females; and some of group (2) will look at that, and figure out that it's effectively a dual-boot BIOS with most of the hooks already there, and a second OS in flash memory. Some of them might even figure out a way to "break out of the box" and mount what they need.

    Now think of Asus' costs and risks. Costs? A very small amount of flash. Heck, I'd be surprised if it was 256 MB, and that stuff is _cheap_ wholesale. Then they need some people to slap together the code. Oh yeah, they're already building an entire line of linux computers with a stripped-down version of Firefox and Skype on board. So it's cheap. The only risk is allowing access to the file system right out of the box. 'Cos Mr. Price-insensitive would have to secure the other operating system too...
  • by Marcion ( 876801 ) on Sunday October 07, 2007 @06:55AM (#20886731) Homepage Journal
    I wonder if it has any GPL3 software, if I remember correctly, GPL3 mentions about screens specifically as a place to put the credit.

    To be honest I am not interested in the software, the question is whether the Motherboard can be reflashed with my own choice of mini-distro.
  • by Russell Coker ( 125579 ) <russell@co k e r .> on Sunday October 07, 2007 @07:02AM (#20886743) Homepage []

    I'd like to see something like NetTop (see above URL) implemented in the hardware. Imagine if you could have a Windows session running under VMWare (or similar) and when (not if) it gets rooted use Linux to recover it. NetTop allows doing this now (at moderate expense and some difficulty), if there was a cheap version of the same thing implemented in flash on the motherboard (so it didn't even add to the boot time) then it would significantly increase the security of the entire Internet.

    It seems that the battle for desktop security has been lost by the company with the most market share. So the battle is now to contain the damage when a desktop machine is 0wned. Technology with features similar to NetTop allow having a full local firewall in front of a Windows VM controlling which network interfaces it accesses. For example you could have one Windows session with access to the Internet and one with access to the corporate Intranet and not allow them to talk to each other!

    To summarise the NetTop project. It has a base OS of SE Linux with custom policy to prevent VMWare sessions from talking to each other (they can't access each other's block devices etc). To access a CD-ROM or other removable media you have to assign it to one session (which denies access to other VMWare instances). Each VMWare session can have access to some sub-set of the network interfaces (which may be VPN interfaces allowing a single Ethernet cable to carry data classified at multiple levels).
  • by PeterJFraser ( 572070 ) on Sunday October 07, 2007 @12:06PM (#20888471)
    Look 4 year into the future, adding Linux to any motherboard should cost about $10 (the price of the flash). In 8 years every motherboard will have an operating system build into it. As time goes on those operating systems will more and more complete. No one will install an operating system ever again.
  • Re:interesting (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DigiShaman ( 671371 ) on Sunday October 07, 2007 @01:51PM (#20889247) Homepage
    Microsoft marketing drones have been gaming tech site comment systems for a while now. Any discussion of Linux, GPL3, ODF or any other topic which threatens their monopoly will be swamped with red herring and troll posts.

    No doubt you have your Microsoft fanatics perusing topics regarding Linux. But, are you serious about Microsoft employees doing the modding? I find that very hard to believe as it sounds too conspiratorial.

    If what you say is true, than there's a solution. Slashdot could block the IP ranges belonging to all of Microsoft's branch offices including the main one in Redmond. What I mean by block, is to flag and prevent these IPs from modding users posting in topics marked "Linux". Technically, it could be done. Getting the correct IP ranges however, would be the difficult task.

    Yes, I am advocating censorship for astroturfers. If a Microsoft employee still wants to mod a Linux topic, they can damn well do it from home if they still feel that passionate about it.
  • Re:interesting (Score:5, Interesting)

    by grcumb ( 781340 ) on Sunday October 07, 2007 @08:46PM (#20892331) Homepage Journal

    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.

    Yep, it's possible to pick out the talking points that the astro-turfers get handed for a particular topic. A few old chestnuts:

    • 'Damned if they do, damned if they don't.' (Hypocrites pick on MS when it doesn't do something, then pick on it again when it does.)
    • 'Slashbot', 'groupthink' and 'fanboi'. (This last one has unfortunately got some traction among the rest of the community.)
    • Testimonials: 'I administer Linux systems, but $WINDOWS is my desktop of choice....', 'I love Mac/Linux, but....'
    • Linux doesn't support X, ergo no Linux for anyone, anywhere!
    • Deliberate misconstruction of 'Standards', 'Free' and 'Open'.

    It would be amusing if it weren't such a pain. The worst part, though, is that they used to spend all their time modding their comrades up, but now they've moved on to modding 'inconvenient' posts down.

Each honest calling, each walk of life, has its own elite, its own aristocracy based on excellence of performance. -- James Bryant Conant