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Linux Takes on a Bigger Role at This Year's CES

From Ubuntu TV to Qooq for the kitchen, a gaggle of upcoming gadgets will be powered by Linux--and that's not even counting Android.

The annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) event is always a fun place to learn about the latest new gadgets coming down the pike, but--aside from Google's ubiquitous Android platform--Linux has not typically played a starring role.

This year, that seems to be changing. Even above and beyond all the countless Android-based tablets and other wares, Linux is a visible part of numerous announcements coming out of the show.

For a Linux fan, that's exciting. Here's a sampling of some of the Linux-powered debuts we've seen coming out of CES 2012 so far.

1. Ubuntu TV

It's a telling sign of Linux's growing mainstream role that Canonical has established a prominent presence at CES this year, and its tantalizing hint last week certainly added fuel to the fires of anticipation. The mysterious announcement, of course, turned out to be Ubuntu TV, as we reported on Monday. In essence, Canonical has created a version of its popular Ubuntu Linux operating system for use on smart TVs, and it's demonstrating a prototype unit at the show this week. Featuring the Unity interface, Ubuntu TV will be made available to TV manufacturers, who can customize it for their own devices. The video below demonstrates Ubuntu TV in action.

2. Qooq

A new gadget for cooking enthusiasts, Qooq is a touch-screen tablet from French company Unowhy. Equipped with a 1GHz ARM Cortex-A9 dual-core processor, the kitchen-ready device is designed to be resistant to water splashes and food splatters, with a screen that can be wiped with a sponge, nonslip feet, and waterproof buttons. The Qooq pad offers access to more than 3500 recipes--including 1500 in video format--as well as interactive services including a meal planner and automatic shopping list. Also included are more standard multimedia functions such as internet browsing, MP3, email, and weather-forecast data. Perhaps best of all? The $399 device reportedly runs a custom version of Linux.

3. Lenovo's ThinkPad X1 Hybrid

A custom version of Linux also figures prominently in Lenovo's new $1599 ThinkPad X1 Hybrid laptop, which features a "battery-stretching" Instant Media Mode based on Linux. To switch to Instant Media Mode--which includes a Qualcomm dual core processor, up to 16 GB of memory, and a custom Linux-based operating system--users simply click on an icon on the laptop's home screen. Once in that mode, the laptop operates "much like a smart phone, remaining turned on and requiring fewer charging sessions," Lenovo says.

4. The OLPC XO 3.0 Tablet

Last but not least, Marvell and One Laptop per Child this week demonstrated the low-cost, low-power, rugged XO 3.0 tablet PC designed for use in education around the globe. Featuring an updated Pixel Qi sunlight-readable display and capable of being charged directly by solar panels, hand cranks, and other alternative power sources, the new tablet can run either Android or Linux-based Sugar. It's expected to be priced at $100 or less.

For more blogs, stories, photos, and video from the nation's largest consumer electronics show, check out PCWorld's complete coverage of CES 2012.

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