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Everyone's free Linux: DeviceVM's Splashtop

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One of the neat things about Linux has always been that you can run it on just about anything: iPhones, xBoxes, PS3, you name it, you can run Linux on it. So, why not, the good people at DeviceVM thought, make a desktop Linux that came bundled in a PC's motherboard: Splashtop.

Splashtop is a mini-desktop Linux distribution that's based on the 2.6.20 Linux kernel. Currently, Splashtop comes pre-installed on pretty much all ASUS motherboards and on netbooks and laptops from ASUS, HP's high-end VoodooPC division and Lenovo. Rumor has it that Splashtop and similar baked-in desktop Linuxes, like Dell's "BlackTop," aka Latitude ON, will soon be appearing from other PC and motherboard vendors. I wouldn't be in the least bit surprised if DeviceVM makes some new partner announcements at this week's CES (Consumer Electronics Show).

The concept behind Splashtop and its competitors is to make it possible for you to open your netbook or laptop and be able to get to work in five seconds or less.

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Fifteen months ago we exclusively showed off SplashTop from DeviceVM, which was an instant-on Linux environment embedded into ASUS motherboards and since then it has worked its way into products from other OEMs (including notebooks). DeviceVM continues to work on further refining SplashTop by adding in virtualization support and other features, along with a promised developer SDK. Phoenix Technologies, the company producing the BIOSes for many of the motherboards on the market, is today introducing their SplashTop competitor. HyperSpace is the Phoenix Technologies product being unveiled this morning with several distinct differences from SplashTop.

Phoenix HyperSpace: An Instant-On Linux Environment?

A peek at Phoenix's HyperSpace PC BIOS giant Phoenix Technologies today launched a fast-booting Linux add-on for Windows PCs. This hands-on review finds "HyperSpace" works to redress slow boot times, WiFi connection hassles, and short battery lives typical of Windows PCs, but sacrifices a lot of flexibility in order to achieve these goals.

Increasingly, notebook and even netbook vendors are grafting fast-booting Linux environments onto Windows PCs. In fact, Linux Foundation Director Jim Zemlin recently theorized that the trend could result in Linux out-shipping Windows by year's end.

Fast-boot environments such as HyperSpace, DeviceVM Splashtop, Asus ExpressGate, Dell Latitude On, Toshiba Qosmio, and InterVideo's original InstantON are typically rebranded by OEMs, so few will realize they are using Linux. That could actually be a good thing for Linux's reputation on the desktop, given that many of these environments are pretty limited.

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