TOKYO Turbolinux, Inc., a major Linux operating system supplier in Japan, said it will offer a Linux booting device in an iPod-sized media player as a way to promote Linux among consumers.
Dubbed "Wizpy," the player uses flash memory in a portable media player with radio and audio recording functions. More important, it functions as a USB flash memory drive that can boot Linux on PCs, enabling users to establish their own Linux working environment, browser, mailer and application software.
"Imagine how convenient it would be if you could carry around your own PC environment in your pocket," said Koichi Yano, president and CEO of Turbolinux.
Linux gets high ratings in terms of security and cost, "but consumers are accustomed to the idea that PCs come with a preinstalled [Windows] operating system. That's a big hurdle for Linux to penetrate to consumers," Yano said. "We want to offer an alternative of Windows that is used more than 90 percent of PCs."
|Turbolinux's media player|
Wizpy comes with embedded 4-gigabyte flash memory, 1.5-gigabytes of which is devoted to the Linux operating system and basic application software. Unlike Windows and the upcoming Vista OS, TurboLinux said Wizpy will work with older PCs, enabling users to make use of aging PCs in schools and in other settings, Yano said.
Wizpy uses a PC's CPU, main memory and some peripherals but does not use the hard drive. It boots Linux as an emulated virtual CD-ROM through a USB connection.
Similar devices and features are already available from companies such as Linux Mobile System and Shinco.
"Wizpy seeks to promote Linux with these devices, but I believe that Wizpy can boot Linux on a much wider range of PCs through its emulated USB CD-ROM," said Masayuki Morikage, director of Turbolinux's Business Propulsion Department. Turbolinux has applied for patents on its technology in several countries.
Wizpy measures 84- by 42- by 12-mm and weighs 60 grams. It includes a 1.71-inch diagonal OLED display.
Turbolinux plans to start marketing Wizpy next February in Japan with a price tag of about $250. The device is manufactured by an unidentified overseas manufacturer. "We've worked with multiple companies overseas to develop Wizpy, and want to promote Wizpy outside of Japan," said Morikage.