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Powerful 'Cotton Candy' Linux PC goes on sale

Small and sweet, runs Ubuntu or Android 4.0

Suddenly tiny computers running Linux are everywhere. Norwegian company FXI Technologies has started taking the first orders for its Cotton Candy Linux computer that can run either Ubuntu or Android 4.0.

The $199 (£139) computer's small size - it is enclosed within a USB stick case - belies its power. Underneath lies a custom design comprising a 1.2 GHz dual-core ARM Cortex A9 processor with 1GB or RAM, supporting for up to 64GB of microSD storage.

Graphics is provided by a Quad Core ARM Mali-400MP GPU, with 802.11n WiFi, Bluetooth, HDMI, microUSB, and USB 2.0 for power or storage.

Booting into either Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich or Ubuntu on ARM, Cotton Candy can be used in a number of ways, including plugging into a TV or monitor via HDMI in order to surf the web, play games and access cloud services. Through a virtualisation client, it can also be plugged into PC and Apple laptops.

The hardware is powerful enough to support full 1080p HD video using MPEG4/H.264 plus MP3, AAC, AAC+, Real Audio with the possibility of third-party codecs.

"We've had interest in the any screen computer for everything from portable set-top box gaming and entertainment to mobile any screen computing, in addition to a host of specialised medical, automotive and other applications," said FXI founder and CEO, Borgar Ljosland.

"The size, raw horsepower and combined HDMI, USB and MicroUSB connectivity bring unprecedented flexibility to the portable market."

Announced in November, the company plans to deliver the first Cotton Candy devices in the coming weeks. Orders can be made via the website.

Despite being commercial, Cotton Candy is not a huge distance away from the philosophy of the UK's Raspberry Pi project to offer a simple Linux computer for use in schools. That too comes on a small board running software loaded from an SD card and could end up being offered in a similar form factor.

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