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Meet PicUntu, a lightweight Linux designed for tiny PCs

Targeting 'PCs-on-a-stick' based on RK3066 chips, this new OS weighs in at no more than 170 MB.

Anyone who's watched the PC industry at all over the past year or so has surely noticed the flood of tiny, Linux-powered PCs that have been flooding the market.

The Raspberry Pi is certainly the best-known example of this growing new class, but it's by no means the only one, accompanied as it has been by the likes of the MK802, the Cotton Candy, the UG802, the Mele A1000, and virtually countless others.

While there certainly are exceptions--perhaps most notably, the $160 CuBox Pro--most of these devices include just 1GB RAM. Typically, they also run Linux-based Android and/or Ubuntu Linux.

Now, however, there's PicUntu, a Linux distribution tailored specifically to the deliberately minimal specs of these diminutive devices.

'No more than 170 MB'

"We are happy to announce the world's first complete Linux distribution for the RK3066," wrote the PicUntu team in a recent blog post, referring to the chip that powers the Android mini-PC by the same name as well as numerous other tiny devices.

"Starting with a minimal download of no more than 170 MB, you can use menus and simple selections to configure your system to be a full fledged system," the project team added.

Potential applications for the resulting device include a company Web server, corporate mail server, central database server, content manager, "developer's paradise," or power GUI desktop, it says, with optional extras available such as Flash, graphics programs, and Office suite clones.

A 'smooth' experience

Based on Ubuntu 12.10 "Quantal Quetzal," PicUntu 0.9 release candidate 2.2 is the latest version of the operating system available, and--as of last week--it's available as a free download with numerous bug fixes over previous versions.

For Linux users, it requires only a 23 KB download, yet it can run most complex computer tasks at no more than 10W of power. Performance, in fact, nears that of i3-based laptops, the company says. Configuration, meanwhile, is entirely menu-driven.

PicUntu has also been tested on the MK808 and UG802 devices, and "we confirm, this time your experience with this will be much smoother," the project team says.

Do you have an RK3066-based tiny device? If so, please post your reactions in the comments if you decide to try out this new OS.


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