Intel just announced the Moblin 2 alpha release available to the public for testing. Get out the good old netbook and have a go with the release; it’s confirmed to work relatively well with the Acer Aspire One and the Dell Mini 9. Those of you with bitty Eee netbooks aren’t completely left out in the cold– you’ll just have to go without wireless for the time being.
Moblin 2 is Intel’s answer to the ever-growing mobile market, designed specifically for Atom-based devices. The current alpha release is geared toward netbooks, but Intel has been working on its own secret schemes to release a device that will use Moblin 2 that I’m calling, for the lack of a better word, a “smartbook:” a weird MID stuck in limbo between the netbook and the smartphone.
Moblin 2 is a Linux distribution heavily based off of Fedora, utilizing the Xfce desktop environment. However, Moblin is expected to drop Xfce in releases in the unforeseeable future for a somewhat more mobile-friendly environment using the Clutter network under development by OpenHand, which Intel acquired last year. Though Moblin is greatly inspired by Fedora, it has a good deal of customizations that make it much more suitable for mobile devices than Fedora, including a unique Internet connection manager and better booting performance.
Intel is very proud to finally be releasing the alpha of Moblin 2, but users beware: the alpha is very rough around the edges, and even in patches in the middle, so you may want to wait before making it your sole OS of choice on your netbook. While Intel is making leaps and bounds under the hood, the user experience pales a bit when in comparison with other mobile distributions. All this in a nutshell directly from the Moblin download page: “The Moblin platform is still in a preliminary, alpha-quality stage. It is not recommended for production workstations. However, all are welcome to try out the images who are willing to accept a few frayed edges.”