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Egg-shaped Linux mini-PC targets emerging markets

Apr 17, 2015 — by Eric Brown — 3,978 views

An “Endless Computers” Kickstarter project is pitching a Celeron-based PC for emerging markets starting at $169, featuring a new “Endless OS” Linux distro.

A San Francisco based startup called Endless Computers, is close to its $100,000 goal on Kickstarter. Funding packages for its Linux-based Endless Computer start at $169 with 32GB, moving to $189 when you add WiFi and Bluetooth. The price goes to $229 when you also add a 500GB HDD. There are also options to give computers away to poor schools and students around the world. The project closes May 15, with shipments due in June.

Endless Computer
(click images to enlarge)

The Endless Computer has a distinctive rounded design, but is otherwise a fairly ordinary low-end computer with a reasonable price tag. It runs on a dual-core, 1.58GHz Intel Celeron N2807 SoC from the most recent, 22nm Bay Trail generation. The computer is equipped with an HDMI port for plugging into a TV.

Endless Computer with TV
(click image to enlarge)

What sets the Endless Computer apart is the new Endless OS Linux distribution, said to be designed from scratch with the needs of emerging markets in mind. The GNOME-based, and according to VentureBeat, Fedora-based, OS is open source, with code already loaded on GitHub. According to an Endless rep responding to Kickstarter questions, “the application store and some of the applications bundled with Endless OS are currently proprietary, but we have plans to open up our development platform to third-parties in the future.”

Endless OS UI
(click image to enlarge)

The Endless OS stack is billed as mimicking a mobile device experience, complete with an app store, community site, and automated system updates designed for “weak data connections and spotty power.” Yet, it also integrates some 150 applications that can run without an Internet connection, including Khan Academy and Wikipedia.

Other technology projects aimed at emerging markets have done somewhat similar things, such as Google’s Android One smartphone project, which loads a version of YouTube that can run offline. Pre-loaded content has also been a hallmark of various Ubuntu-based netbooks aimed at developing nations.

More views of the Endless Computer
(click image to enlarge)

After the U.S.-focused Kickstarter project, Endless Computers will initially target Mexico and Guatemala, according to VentureBeat. The computer is the result of a three-year fact finding tour around the world to determine market needs, and the company has offices in Rio de Janeiro, Guatemala City, and Taiwan.

VentureBeat quotes Endless Computers CEO Matt Dalio as saying he found that HDTVs were surprisingly common even in poorer households, negating the purchase of an expensive monitor in many cases. He added that mouse/keyboard combinations are available in developing countries for under $10.

According to VentureBeat, existing Linux-based applications can run on Endless OS “when they are accepted into the company’s app store.” An open source Chromium browser will also be built in.

The story quotes Dalio as saying the project improves on the now fading One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) experiment with low-cost, educational Linux laptops, and later, Android tablets. Dalio said the applications will be more numerous and include productivity software for adults. Dalio also noted that OLPC founder Nicholas Negroponte is an advisor to the project.

Specifications listed for the Endless Computer include:

  • Processor — Intel Celeron N2807 (2x cores @ up to 2.17GHz); 5W TDP
  • Memory/storage:
    • 2GB of RAM
    • Endless 32GB — 32GB flash; SD slot
    • Endless 500GB — 500GB HDD
  • Display — HDMI port with cable; VGA port
  • Wireless — WiFi and Bluetooth (standard on 500GB model, or $20 option on 32GB model)
  • Networking — Gigabit Ethernet port
  • Other I/O:
    • USB 3.0 port
    • 2x USB 2.0 ports
    • 3.5mm audio jack
  • Other features — Speaker (500GB model only)
  • Power — 29W power adapter
  • Operating system — Endless OS (Linux based on Fedora and GNOME)

Further information

The Endless Computer is available on Kickstarter through May 15 starting at $169 with 32GB, $189 with WiFi and Bluetooth, or $229 with WiFi, Bluetooth, and a 500GB HDD. Assuming the $100K goal is met, shipments are due in June. More information may be found at the Endless Computers Kickstarter page and the Endless Computers website.

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3 responses to “Egg-shaped Linux mini-PC targets emerging markets”

  1. taiekdz says:

    The only thing I want to know is: can it boot from USB?

    All these neat little Linux PCs coming out is great, but if they can’t boot from USB, the kind of Linux experts who would otherwise provide help, especially in emerging markets, will probably not want to touch it with a barge pole….

  2. Caitlin Bestler says:

    How is this supposed to be better than existing Android/Linux TV boxes or a ChromeBox?

    • Curtis says:

      It’s better than a ChromeBox in that it doesn’t require internet connection for the user to be productive.

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