July 10, 2009, 11:20 AM — While Google's Chrome OS made far bigger headlines, PCWorld examined Moblin: A First Look at Intel's Open-Source OS the other day. If you're surprised Intel wants to be in the operating system business, remember they work closely with all OS vendors from Microsoft down to various Linux distributions. After all, the more operating system choices you have that run better on Intel chips, like the Atom processor in every netbook, the more Intel chips you purchase.
One great point from the PCWorld article is the ability now for operating system vendors to rethink almost everything for the netbook platform. We think of a netbook as a low powered laptop, but really its power is directed less to spreadsheet crunching and more to graphics and multimedia playing. After all, kids view YouTube and Hulu more than they crunchspreadsheets. The article makes another good point that netbooks, being so small and portable, become the ultimate “personal” computer because they're so easy to take with you.
Many Linux distributions (Moblin is based on Fedora from RedHat) offer multiple desktop views. This allows you to arrange your apps across multiple screens that rotate like a PC-based Lazy Susan. You can keep the apps open you want to use, but assign them to different screen views so you don't have to cram them all into one screen with windows overlapping windows.
Moblin does this differently, using what they call zones. While similar to multiple desktops, Intel hasn't seemed to work out the details yet. However, a new take on a better way to manage your apps and windows is always welcome, and I give Intel kudos for trying new things.
I don't expect Moblin to overtake Windows, or Chrome OS, or any major Linux distribution like Ubuntu. I do expect Moblin, because it's from Intel, to get a closer look and make its mark as a proof of concept OS as the world of netbooks rearranges the world of personal computing. That alone makes it worthwhile, so thanks, Intel.
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