Linux is the Engine Under the Hood of Instant On

Linux-powered "instant-on" environments are the new hot technology. ASUS and DeviceVM led the way with Splashtop, and now the venerable BIOS vendor Phoenix has released Hyperspace, which has some significant differences.
Posted January 15, 2009

Paul Ferrill

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Waiting for a laptop or desktop to boot has to be one of the biggest time wasters for the majority of computer users no matter what the operating system. You would think with faster CPUs that the problem would just go away, but it hasn't. In fact, if anything, it has gotten worse. Larger amounts of system memory have only added to the amount of time it takes the average computer to go from powered down to ready for use.

The ultimate goal of computer manufacturers and users alike is to get as close to "instant on" as possible. While that goal is still a good way off for most operating systems, it has been achieved for a minimal operating environment and made commercially available from two vendors. Both vendors take different approaches to the problem and also take a very different approach to how they sell their products.

Splashtop is a product from DeviceVM and was the first to really grab the attention of the laptop crowd. It comes pre-installed on laptops from Asus, Lenovo and VoodooPC. It's also available on a large number of Asus motherboards and the Asus Eee Box B202. For the developer crowd there is a list of the components used in Splashtop on their website along with the statement that they are building an SDK to make development for the platform easier.

The key to Splashtop's speed is a special piece of code loaded into the system BIOS. That's the main reason you don't see Splashtop offered as a stand-alone product. In addition to the BIOS code there's a small amount of disk space dedicated to the rest of the Splashtop software. Booting into the Splashtop environment gives you a number of options including a Web browser, music player, photo manager, chat client and Skype.

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Tags: developer, software, IT, desktop, music

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