“No-fuss” Linux net-top updated

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French computer maker claims solid-state, low power desktops are the future

The maker of the latest version of a low-spec Linux desktop claims it will become increasingly popular as businesses seek to cut costs and turn more to hosted applications in the future.

Released late last week, Linutop 2.4 is the latest iteration of the Linux-based thin client developed by French company Linutop SARL based in Paris.

Based around an AMD Geode LX800 processor, the device uses an “optimised” version of Xubuntu Linux and also comes pre-installed with the latest version of the Firefox browser.

According to Frederic Baille, chief executive and co-founder of Linutop, the 8-Watt device has been well received by UK companies looking to cut electricity and management costs in the recession. “UK businesses are hungry for small, compact and uncomplicated systems,” he said.”We are always striving to make computing as simple and straightforward as possible – no muss, no fuss.”

Although the Linutop has been mainly aimed at retailers for applications such as Internet kiosks and digital displays, the device could also be used by companies to access hosted applications which don’t require any local software to be installed. “In the future a lot of PCs will just be solid state with open source software,” said Baille.

Rather than a traditional hard disk, the device comes with 1GB of Flash memory – a technology which Baille claims was widely used in military satellites before the price came down low enough for inclusion in commercial computing.

Thin clients have been touted as an alternative to traditional desktops by proponents such as Sun Microsystems and HP as they concentrate computing resources on the server which both companies specialise in selling.

But as the Linutop device does not require a server, Baille argues that it is best described as somewhere between a PC and a thin client as he doesn’t like the term net-top.

Xubuntu Linux is a version of the Ubuntu Linux distribution which uses the XFCE desktop environment and is specifically designed for low-spec computers.