Linutop: less is more

I’m excited by this; the Linutop will be a small desktop computer with just enough specs to run Firefox and some open source office apps comfortably, and no hard disk.

Details are pretty sketchy on their website, but I assume that it will run a simplified version of an existing Linux distro that just boots into Firefox. Price is also undisclosed, but my guess is that this will come in somewhere around $150. The cheapest Mac Mini costs four times more than that. We’ll see.

Of course, people aren’t going to want to go without a hard disk, but if you’re the type of person who uses their computer for email and doing The Google, it looks good to me. If anything, it’s probably a little ahead of the broadband and web apps curves. We should get some of these into Irish schools.

I’m more interested in this from an environmental point of view, though. If you’re reading this on a desktop computer, chances are the beast humming away under your desk right now is gobbling up an order of magnitude of electricity more than it actually needs to support your actual activities. There is a massively long tail of home users that are spending way too much money and energy on their computers, and the long tail of power can add up to big numbers.

(For more, there’s a poor quality 30 minute introduction to the Linutop on Google Video. I wrote more speculatively about the environmental impact of thin client systems earlier in the year.)

— 03 Nov 2006