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ASUS Motherboard Ships With Embedded Linux

Zonk posted about 7 years ago | from the lightweight-wins-every-time dept.


Michael writes "ASUSTek has introduced the P5E3 Deluxe motherboard, which in addition to using Intel's new X38 Chipset also features a soon-to-be-announced technology by DeviceVM. SplashTop is an instant-on Linux desktop environment that is embedded onto this motherboard. Within seconds of turning on the P5E3 Deluxe motherboard, you can boot into this Linux environment that currently features a Mozilla-based web browser and the Skype VoIP client. Browser and VoIP settings can be saved and there are plans for the device to provide new features and support via updates. At Phoronix is a review of this $360 motherboard embedded with Linux and a web browser."

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And before you ask... (5, Funny)

Eco-Mono (978899) | about 7 years ago | (#20885637)


Re:And before you ask... (1, Funny)

richie2000 (159732) | about 7 years ago | (#20885645)

But which distro? ;-)

/ Imagine a Beowulf cluster of these...

Re:And before you ask... (3, Insightful)

thatskinnyguy (1129515) | about 7 years ago | (#20885699)

"SplashTop" It's in the summary. Discovery is opening your eyes to what is already there.

Re:And before you ask... (2, Informative)

ChunderDownunder (709234) | about 7 years ago | (#20886301)

To be fair, clicking on the URL gave me a login prompt saying restricted access before 10/10/07.

Slashdotted or vaporware?

Re:And before you ask... (1)

stevenvi (779021) | about 7 years ago | (#20885731)

But which distro? ;-)
As the summary said, SplashTop, a distro specifically designed for this purpose.

Re:And before you ask... (0)

Rinisari (521266) | about 7 years ago | (#20885739)

It's so ironic that parent is marked Redundant.

Re:And before you ask... (2, Funny)

the_humeister (922869) | about 7 years ago | (#20885801)

Hear that "whoosh" sound? It's the sound of the joke going over the mod's head.

Re:And before you ask... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20885877)

Hear that "whoosh" sound? It's the sound of the Slashdot humor going down the toilet.

Re:And before you ask... (1, Funny)

Broken scope (973885) | about 7 years ago | (#20885899)

Wouldn't that be a more distinctive, flushing sound?

Re:And before you ask... (1)

aichpvee (631243) | about 7 years ago | (#20885921)

Vacuum toilet.

Re:And before you ask... (1)

Broken scope (973885) | about 7 years ago | (#20885943)

Wouldn't that be a -fwoosh-?

Re:And before you ask... (1)

Dunbal (464142) | about 7 years ago | (#20886079)

slashdot has been in the toilet for years. Yet we floaters don't mind.

Re:And before you ask... (1, Redundant)

Lije Baley (88936) | about 7 years ago | (#20885913)

Whoever moderated this "redundant" needs to be meta-moderated "retarded".

interesting (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20885641)

A few years ago, while browsing around the library downtown, I
had to take a piss. As I entered the john a big beautiful all-American
football hero type, about twenty-five, came out of one of the booths.
I stood at the urinal looking at him out of the corner of my eye as he
washed his hands. He didn't once look at me. He was "straight" and
married - and in any case I was sure I wouldn't have a chance with

As soon as he left I darted into the booth he'd vacated,
hoping there might be a lingering smell of shit and even a seat still
warm from his sturdy young ass. I found not only the smell but the
shit itself. He'd forgotten to flush. And what a treasure he had left
behind. Three or four beautiful specimens floated in the bowl. It
apparently had been a fairly dry, constipated shit, for all were fat,
stiff, and ruggedly textured. The real prize was a great feast of turd
- a nine inch gastrointestinal triumph as thick as a man's wrist.

I knelt before the bowl, inhaling the rich brown fragrance and
wondered if I should obey the impulse building up inside me. I'd
always been a heavy rimmer and had lapped up more than one little
clump of shit, but that had been just an inevitable part of eating ass
and not an end in itself. Of course I'd had jerk-off fantasies of
devouring great loads of it (what rimmer hasn't), but I had never done
it. Now, here I was, confronted with the most beautiful five-pound
turd I'd ever feasted my eyes on, a sausage fit to star in any fantasy
and one I knew to have been hatched from the asshole of the world's
handsomest young stud.

Why not? I plucked it from the bowl, holding it with both
hands to keep it from breaking. I lifted it to my nose. It smelled
like rich, ripe limburger (horrid, but thrilling), yet had the
consistency of cheddar. What is cheese anyway but milk turning to shit
without the benefit of a digestive tract?

I gave it a lick and found that it tasted better then it
smelled. I've found since then that shit nearly almost does.

I hesitated no longer. I shoved the fucking thing as far into
my mouth as I could get it and sucked on it like a big brown cock,
beating my meat like a madman. I wanted to completely engulf it and
bit off a large chunk, flooding my mouth with the intense, bittersweet
flavor. To my delight I found that while the water in the bowl had
chilled the outside of the turd, it was still warm inside. As I chewed
I discovered that it was filled with hard little bits of something I
soon identified as peanuts. He hadn't chewed them carefully and they'd
passed through his body virtually unchanged. I ate it greedily,
sending lump after peanutty lump sliding scratchily down my throat. My
only regret was the donor of this feast wasn't there to wash it down
with his piss.

I soon reached a terrific climax. I caught my cum in the
cupped palm of my hand and drank it down. Believe me, there is no more
delightful combination of flavors than the hot sweetness of cum with
the rich bitterness of shit.

Afterwards I was sorry that I hadn't made it last longer. But
then I realized that I still had a lot of fun in store for me. There
was still a clutch of virile turds left in the bowl. I tenderly fished
them out, rolled them into my handkerchief, and stashed them in my
briefcase. In the week to come I found all kinds of ways to eat the
shit without bolting it right down. Once eaten it's gone forever
unless you want to filch it third hand out of your own asshole. Not an
unreasonable recourse in moments of desperation or simple boredom.

I stored the turds in the refrigerator when I was not using
them but within a week they were all gone. The last one I held in my
mouth without chewing, letting it slowly dissolve. I had liquid shit
trickling down my throat for nearly four hours. I must have had six
orgasms in the process.

I often think of that lovely young guy dropping solid gold out
of his sweet, pink asshole every day, never knowing what joy it could,
and at least once did, bring to a grateful shiteater.

Re:interesting (4, Funny)

kurt555gs (309278) | about 7 years ago | (#20885971)

Here we have an article about linux, and there is this post from an obvious Windows user. Where is the Slashdot of old when all we had to worry about was the occasional GNAA or goatse post.

Those were the days.


Re:interesting (5, Informative)

JoshJ (1009085) | about 7 years ago | (#20886045)

It's interesting, actually. Pro-Linux posts get modded troll and flamebait with some regularity now. I haven't been a very Slashdotter for a long time, but the Microsoft fanboys (shills/astroturfers?) definitely have a much larger influence on moderation than they used to. They've deliberately attacked people that were consistently posting pro-linux stuff: just look at what they did to twitter, whose account is currently sitting in negative karma hell after having ACs copypaste the same exact diatribe at him for months. I got sick of seeing it and I'm not even the guy they were targeting.

Eventually, it's become more and more obvious that there are people whose sole purpose for BEING on Slashdot is to simply bash Linux even though Slashdot is by its very nature a Linux website. Why they find it enjoyable or interesting or even a worthwhile use of their time is beyond me- I simply don't see why anyone who doesn't use Linux would come to Slashdot, load a Linux article, and mindlessly bash Linux. Why not just play some of Windows games that you like so much, you know?

Re:interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20886169)

I simply don't see why anyone who doesn't use Linux would come to Slashdot, load a Linux article, and mindlessly bash Linux.

Somebody's got to put food on the table.

Re:interesting (5, Insightful)

ozmanjusri (601766) | about 7 years ago | (#20886285)

I got sick of seeing it and I'm not even the guy they were targeting.

Judging by the downmods, you are now...

But you're right. Microsoft marketing drones have been gaming tech site comment systems for a while now. Any discussion of Linux, GPL3, ODF or any other topic which threatens their monopoly will be swamped with red herring and troll posts.

It's one of the more disgraceful features of the company. They're willing to undermine anything - ISO standards, US DOJ, open discussion, etc, etc - if there's an advantage to them.

Re:interesting (1)

JoshJ (1009085) | about 7 years ago | (#20886467)

If anything, it's the Jesusbots targeting me, not the Microsoft shills, as I really don't comment much on Linux-related stuff. The Microsoft stuff is shameful, but I haven't really been targeted by it directly. I just find it amusing that they're trying to do this on a site which not only started out as a Linux site but is also owned by OSTG. Seriously, what's the point? I can understand going it to other tech sites, because there at least there's a chance of success, but doing it to Slashdot is like trying to put out a volcano by pissing on it.

Re:interesting (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20886547)

you guys do know you're complaining about linux bashing and modding down of pro linux posts on Slashdot in reply to a post about a guy having gay sex and coprophagia? Location, anyone?

Re:interesting (5, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 7 years ago | (#20886583)

You know, just because something is pro-Linux, doesn't mean it's not a troll. Twitter is a case in point; most of his posts were obvious trolls, while the better ones were non-obvious trolls.

Some of us are just bored with this whole Linux fanboy idea that Linux is always the best tool for the job. It isn't. Free/Net/OpenBSD, eCos, OpenSolaris and even OS X are often a much better solution for any given problem. Linux has no grown large enough that there are a lot of people who try to fit it into every possible niche, including those for which it is completely unsuited and shouting down anyone who suggests a better option. We moderated down the MCSEs for this kind of attitude with Windows, and we'll mod down the Linux fanboys when they display it with Linux.

Straying back on topic, this is a pretty neat idea. It's a shame Be Inc didn't last a bit longer, because this is exactly the kind of thing BeIA would have been ideal for. That said, it seems more of a gimmick than something useful. Considering how cheaply you can buy a 1GB CF card and CF to IDE adaptor, you could probably create a system like this yourself more cheaply. It's not like this is aimed at Joe Public, because he doesn't buy motherboards, just finished systems.

Re:interesting (1)

chawly (750383) | about 7 years ago | (#20886721)

The editors should do something about this - the same crap day after day.

One more piece is needed ... (5, Interesting)

DavidRawling (864446) | about 7 years ago | (#20885659)

All it's missing is iSCSI support for it to be a diskless yet completely functional desktop. Central storage (and upgrade) of apps, documents and settings, just by mounting the appropriate partitions from a large, fast shared disk array.

I think I speak for all of us when I say.... (3, Insightful)

SpectreBlofeld (886224) | about 7 years ago | (#20885661)

...Whoa. That is wicked cool. Now, make a lower-end one with cheaper hardware.

Use? (3, Insightful)

Kawahee (901497) | about 7 years ago | (#20885665)

What's the point? All it can do is surf the internet and make phone calls. You can't save anything from the internet and you can't mount external media, making it's backup/restore functionality near zip. The author also laments the lack of media playback.

To me it would be much more logical for a user just to have Linux installed on their hard drive with full functionality. Where's the use in a crippled OS on a motherboard?

Re:Use? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20885703)

i guess if all you need in a PC is the internet, then you're set...

however it should also include Pidgin, and after support for external drives, maybe a music and video player

throw in built in ability to play DVDs using the deCSS library, and you've got a computer that has a complete backup system in case your hard drive dies, and i suppose even there no need to have another operating system.

ok i supposed by that point you've got simply an OS installed on something besides the hard drive. oh well, it was an interesting thought :)

Re:Use? (2, Insightful)

mlts (1038732) | about 7 years ago | (#20885807)

I'd like it to have xen, VMWare ESX Server (though would add to the cost) or some VM technology that works with Windows, and support the graphics drivers. Then, I could have an install of Windows just for gaming, one for web browsing, and Linux for general work, and if the web browsing instance gets hit by a new type of malware attack, it won't affect anything else.

Re:Use? (1)

Ash-Fox (726320) | about 7 years ago | (#20886359)

throw in built in ability to play DVDs using the deCSS library, and you've got a computer that has a complete backup system in case your hard drive dies, and i suppose even there no need to have another operating system.
Just set the region code on your DVD drive or get one of those multi-region DVD drives. You don't need that library.

Re:Use? (3, Interesting)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about 7 years ago | (#20885757)

I'm building a HTPC and I want it to be diskless, or at least no spinning disks. it has 1 fan for the whole pc, so far and if I can eliminate a spindle in the drive and make it solid state, that's ideal.

even more ideal is instant boot TO linux.

ultimate: being able to mount samba shares and playback HD content (normal .mpg is fine with me, in HD size) and send to dvi and spdif locally. if you can be 100% fanless and instant on and do all that, I'll pay MORE than its worth. the synergy of all that would be worth it.

I will look at all solutions that offer a way to avoid a spinning disk drive. for a bedroom or quiet room HTPC, yup, I sure will.

Re:Use? (5, Informative)

dch24 (904899) | about 7 years ago | (#20885955)

Just brainstorming some possibilities for a diskless HTPC:
  • I googled "diskless htpc". This looks promising [] . It doesn't have details, though.
  • Boot from a linux install on a USB thumb drive.
  • Boot from a "Persistent Live USB [] " (or google for things like "casper" and "casper-rw")
  • Netboot (PXE boot), and set up an NFS root [] or SMB root (not sure if SMB root has been done before)
  • Netboot or boot from USB, and run from a ramdrive root. Then even if network goes down, system still has basic functionality (net being down is more of an issue on a home network and an always-on HTPC)
The other issue is the instant-on behavior. I looked at this a while ago when I was installing a uATX motherboard in my car. I'd say the biggest problem is the time it takes for the BIOS to POST. I timed it at 7 sec. Even when I had my kernel booting in 2 sec. and a GUI loaded in 2 sec. (initng, not loading X, small root partition), the BIOS was taking way too long.

I'm waiting for better LinuxBIOS and kexec support.

Re:Use? (1)

cheater512 (783349) | about 7 years ago | (#20886101)

I'd assume this motherboard would have something similar to LinuxBIOS to speed it up.

Re:Use? (1)

TheThiefMaster (992038) | about 7 years ago | (#20886357)

My Asus M2N SLI Deluxe motherboard posts in under 2 seconds.

When I was still using a CRT, the first thing I saw after turning the pc on was grub, halfway through the 10s countdown. Even with my new 22" TFT it's rare for me to even catch a glimpse of the motherboard's POST (or the splash screen covering it anyway). I can be in Windows or Ubuntu within 30s of pressing the power button.

This is much better than a few years ago when my win2k install broke and started taking half an hour to load.

Re:Use? (1)

datajack (17285) | about 7 years ago | (#20886555)

You really want to be checking out ITX motherboards then. Running low-powered CPUs with a small form-factor means they doin't look too out of place alongside the TV :)
Slap mythtv on a server and net-boot minimyth to the ITX box and you are onto a winner. I run that here and love it.

Re:Use? (1)

jamesh (87723) | about 7 years ago | (#20885775)

well... if it had xfs_repair on it, it could save me a lot of mucking around trying to repair the filesystem on an unbootable system (at home), like I did this morning.

The same result could be achieved with a bootable Disk on Chip though.

Re:Use? (1)

Provocateur (133110) | about 7 years ago | (#20885875)

What's the point?

Instant-on. You've never experienced it, have you? Think of the possibilities.

You: Like what, instant-off?


Re:Use? (4, Interesting)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about 7 years ago | (#20885939)

What's the point? All it can do is surf the internet and make phone calls.
Surf the internet from a read-only OS. No worries about trojans or key-loggers. Seems like it would be an ideal way to do online-banking and other sensitive types of activities without worry that your system was compromised.

Re:Use? (1)

gr8dude (832945) | about 7 years ago | (#20886507)

I wouldn't promote this as THE most secure way to do online stuff. After all, besides keyloggers and spyware we still have sniffers that can be running elsewhere in the network and monitor the traffic; there is potential for man-in-the-middle attacks (if weak protocols are used), etc.

Re:Use? (1)

wishmechaos (841912) | about 7 years ago | (#20886541)

It's not read only -- you can save your settings, so presumably there's some way to screw it up. If it's more secure it's because you're just running a really obscure platform.

Re:Use? (1)

stranger_to_himself (1132241) | about 7 years ago | (#20886023)

Presumably its good for web applications like those Google Apps or whatever they're called so if you use them to work then you've got all the functionality you need.

Re:Use? (4, Funny)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | about 7 years ago | (#20886027)

``What's the point? All it can do is surf the internet and make phone calls.''

Yeah, that's completely useless.

Re:Use? (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about 7 years ago | (#20886225)

All you need now is a copy of aMSN and you've got a complete system for cybercafes. If you could squeeze in OpenOffice as well you'd have a PC which does everything that a decent percentage of PC owners use their PCs for - and it's instant-on.

It's amazing what $5 of flash memory can do.

If this becomes a trend then Microsoft should be very scared.

Re:Use? (1)

ozmanjusri (601766) | about 7 years ago | (#20886303)

If this becomes a trend then Microsoft should be very scared.

They are.

That's why their marketing drones spend so much time trolling in these stories.

Re:Use? (1) troll (593289) | about 7 years ago | (#20886157)

Where does it say no external media? Unless I'm overlooking something USB is fine for storage for some things, for others you could store things on the network. For example a home theater pc would be fine with loading movies from any machine on your lan and then displaying them on the no moving parts machine out in the living room thats running quiet and lean.

FWIW, I run linux on my linksys router using USB for storage, it does plenty of useful tasks without ide/scsi/traditional external storage.

I also have linux on my nintendo DS to work as a dumb terminal to get into my router and attach my irc session. Still has storage(access to my SD card), but doesn't really need it.

I'd also love this for recovering the machine during disk errors.

I can't believe that people don't get it (3, Informative)

Gadget_Guy (627405) | about 7 years ago | (#20886213)

This is obviously intended to allow you to quickly make a phone call or look something up on the net. It is not supposed to be a replacement for your entire operating system. If you want to save files, watch DVDs or run your business software then boot your hard drive!

I couldn't count how many times I have booted up my computer just to look up a bus timetable, or the TV guide or just check my mail. And how handy would it be to be able to quickly look at the slashdot headlines while your wife goes back to try on another outfit before you head out.

If the boot time can be believed, you could go from off to reading the /. front page in around 20 seconds. How cool is that?

And I want to set up a temporary Internet cafe at conferences. This would be an ideal, non-hackable environment.

Re:I can't believe that people don't get it (2, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 7 years ago | (#20886597)

Maybe I've been in laptop-land for too long (last desktop I owned was three years ago), but do people really still regularly reboot? I close the lid on my laptop, it goes to sleep. I open the lid, it wakes up and I can start doing things with it as soon as I've entered my password. The only time I reboot is to install updates. Surely desktops can do this by now?

Re:Use? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20886355)

It sure beats booting to BASIC on failure to load drive.

Re:Use? (2, Interesting)

DingerX (847589) | about 7 years ago | (#20886631)

Err... Use?

This is one of them '38 Mobos. Top-of-the-line. It has all kinds of other fancy bits that can't be used yet either. But think of it:

A $360 motherboard targets two groups: 1. the price-insensitive freaks who think they'll be getting the best of everything if they shell out a ton of cash, and 2. serious overclockers/hardware hackers/tech geeks.

Most people in both groups will find it completely useless, right up there with the fourth SATA channel. But some of group (1) will show it off as part of their interminable "look at my toys" spiel they suffer upon visiting males and females; and some of group (2) will look at that, and figure out that it's effectively a dual-boot BIOS with most of the hooks already there, and a second OS in flash memory. Some of them might even figure out a way to "break out of the box" and mount what they need.

Now think of Asus' costs and risks. Costs? A very small amount of flash. Heck, I'd be surprised if it was 256 MB, and that stuff is _cheap_ wholesale. Then they need some people to slap together the code. Oh yeah, they're already building an entire line of linux computers with a stripped-down version of Firefox and Skype on board. So it's cheap. The only risk is allowing access to the file system right out of the box. 'Cos Mr. Price-insensitive would have to secure the other operating system too...


thatskinnyguy (1129515) | about 7 years ago | (#20885681)

Maybe with a Linux distro built into the motherboard, there will finally be a solution where you don't have to go on a two day scavenger hunt for drivers. The last time I installed Fedora and Suse, both times I had to spend countless hours looking for Linux drivers for my NForce chipset. That All-in-One crap is for the birds.

A problem has been solved! BRAVO!


kungfujesus (969971) | about 7 years ago | (#20885795)

the nforce drivers are built into the kernel, if i'm not mistaken.


thatskinnyguy (1129515) | about 7 years ago | (#20885839)

True but not bundled with the distros I find useful. At the risk of going even more off-topic, lets save this argument for another time. Shall we?


aichpvee (631243) | about 7 years ago | (#20885933)

So useful you have to spend two days looking for drivers? You sound like you're running windows when you talk about having to "download drivers," geez.


Siddly (675342) | about 7 years ago | (#20885841)

That is strange, I've used NForce based Asus motherboards for a long time and never once had to hunt down drivers for any SuSE, Gentoo or Mandrake/Mandriva distro. Perhaps you got one of the first boards to be issued. The browser could be useful in certain circumstances, like when you don't have knoppix or other live CD's around. Access to external storage is pretty much a necessity along with being able to do BIOS updates within that environment.

int 18h (2, Insightful)

iamacat (583406) | about 7 years ago | (#20885691)

This is similar to countless computers that had BASIC in ROM and has the same problems. Sure it's convenient, but what people want to do with computers changes every year while ROMs stay the same. Will this thing support IPV6? Browsing the web over corporate VPN? External network adapter/monitor/scroll mouse? Silverlight?

Modern hard drives just take a second to read 4GB, a reasonable size for a quckstart Linux partition. And a PC builder can easily include an internal flash drive with hardware write protection switch. I wouldn't pay any more for this product than for a comparable motherboard without this feature.

Re:int 18h (4, Insightful)

mark-t (151149) | about 7 years ago | (#20885711)

Ideally, it is installed in flash rom, that can be updated under application control, and only requiring a reboot to complete.

Re:int 18h (1)

Dunbal (464142) | about 7 years ago | (#20886069)

flash rom

      Flash ROM? Lol. When I was a kid I used to think that ROM meant "Read Only Memory". But does ROM still apply if you can write to it? Flash ROM is an oxymoron if I ever saw one.

Re:int 18h (1)

Nazlfrag (1035012) | about 7 years ago | (#20886331)

Write once Read Only Memory - you need to enter a specific flash atate to rewrite it, it normal operation it is ROM first and foremost. Sure, malware authours can hijack the architecture, but really why bother with dozens of winboxen to fulfill your needs.

Re:int 18h (1)

larry bagina (561269) | about 7 years ago | (#20885723)

The article mentioned (or assumed) that the linux was updatable, so it's probably more like flash RAM than ROM.

Re:int 18h (1)

DavidRawling (864446) | about 7 years ago | (#20885735)

Modern hard drives just take a second to read 4GB...
Dude ... which alternate universe do YOUR hard drives come from?! I can't find any consumer drives that can beat 50-60MB/sec ... (that's almost 2 orders of magnitude difference).

Re:int 18h (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20886289)

40MB would easily hold a decent boot partition, and could be read as quickly as he suggests. Not sure what he was smoking that led to the 4GB claim though - you can't even zero 4GB of RAM in one second (unless you count dropping the power...).

2010s (2, Interesting)

renrutal (872592) | about 7 years ago | (#20885719)

It'd would be more generally useful if it only came with a OpenGL ES enabled GRUB + a micro Linux environment prepared with machine virtualization, which would run, semi-transparently, the other OSs by default, unless overrided.

Virtual Machine Host? (3, Interesting)

Xenna (37238) | about 7 years ago | (#20885733)

Considering the name of the company and the (limited) text on their homepage. Wouldn't it be cool to have a motherboard with built in (ROM) virtualization software like Xen? Isn't that what they're really aiming for?


Re:Virtual Machine Host? (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 7 years ago | (#20886611)

It would, and this is one of the more benign potential uses for a TPM chip; you could configure it to verify the integrity of your hypervisor partition before allowing you to boot; if someone's compromised the hypervisor, don't boot. If each VM image is encrypted with a key stored in the TPM and only released to a non-corrupted hypervisor, you've got a fairly secure system (at least, until someone cracks the TPM).

Re:Virtual Machine Host? (2, Interesting)

Russell Coker (125579) | about 7 years ago | (#20886743) []

I'd like to see something like NetTop (see above URL) implemented in the hardware. Imagine if you could have a Windows session running under VMWare (or similar) and when (not if) it gets rooted use Linux to recover it. NetTop allows doing this now (at moderate expense and some difficulty), if there was a cheap version of the same thing implemented in flash on the motherboard (so it didn't even add to the boot time) then it would significantly increase the security of the entire Internet.

It seems that the battle for desktop security has been lost by the company with the most market share. So the battle is now to contain the damage when a desktop machine is 0wned. Technology with features similar to NetTop allow having a full local firewall in front of a Windows VM controlling which network interfaces it accesses. For example you could have one Windows session with access to the Internet and one with access to the corporate Intranet and not allow them to talk to each other!

To summarise the NetTop project. It has a base OS of SE Linux with custom policy to prevent VMWare sessions from talking to each other (they can't access each other's block devices etc). To access a CD-ROM or other removable media you have to assign it to one session (which denies access to other VMWare instances). Each VMWare session can have access to some sub-set of the network interfaces (which may be VPN interfaces allowing a single Ethernet cable to carry data classified at multiple levels).

Gotcha (5, Informative)

DrJimbo (594231) | about 7 years ago | (#20885817)

On page 3, TFA says:

To update Express Gate though you will need to be running Windows on the hard drive in order to run the ASUS utility.

Re:Gotcha (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20886123)

haha thats funny as

Updating the system (5, Informative)

ctid (449118) | about 7 years ago | (#20885823)

Sadly, you will have to be running Windows if you want to update the internal environment. From the Phoronix article:

This SplashTop Browser also includes Adobe's Linux Flash plug-in, so web-sites depending upon Flash will work out of the box. ASUS intends to issue free updates to Express Gate for the P5E3 Deluxe from their website in order to update the browser and enable any additional functionality or new programs. To update Express Gate though you will need to be running Windows on the hard drive in order to run the ASUS utility. The SplashTop Browser we were running was their Community Preview v0.9.0.1 edition.

I think this is a shame (to put it mildly). Hopefully the specifications for the update process will be published so that a Linux solution can be produced.

Re:Updating the system (3, Funny)

Dunbal (464142) | about 7 years ago | (#20885945)

Sadly, you will have to be running Windows if you want to update the internal environment.

      (Hunts around for his Windows "live CD"...)

Re:Updating the system (1)

FranTaylor (164577) | about 7 years ago | (#20885991)

I refuse to run Microsoft software. The reasons are many and not worth going into. I won't pirate it, because I'm a software developer whose pay comes from paid-for software, and I won't engage in conduct that I would not tolerate from others. I was intrigued by this motherboard until I saw the Windows requirement. ASUS, you have a potential sale here if you make it usable without Windows, I am tired of waiting for Linux to boot up. I like your stuff, I'm typing on an ASUS system right now.

Re:Updating the system (1)

Hal_Porter (817932) | about 7 years ago | (#20886239)

Sadly, you will have to be running Windows if you want to update the internal environment.

      (Hunts around for his Windows "live CD"...) []

Oh the irony (3, Interesting)

Barnoid (263111) | about 7 years ago | (#20885827)

This could be very useful for backup/recovery or testing purposes, eliminating the need for a live CD. However, the intended purpose seems to be a completely different one: "With a fast boot-up speed of only 5 seconds, the ASUS Express Gate offers an optional Linux OS boot-up that allows you to enjoy instant access to commonly used functions like accessing the Internet, VoIP, and Web emailing without entering the OS."

Who would want to boot into a crippled Linux where you cannot mount external drives just to browse the internet or make Skype calls?

At least it can be updated, so ASUS might provide more functional versions in the future. However,
from TFA: "To update Express Gate [the embedded linux] though you will need to be running Windows on the hard drive in order to run the ASUS utility."

Now, that's just great...

Re:Oh the irony (4, Informative)

houstonbofh (602064) | about 7 years ago | (#20885843)

According to the GPL, they will have to release the source code and the tool set. That means a Linux updater, and a custom firmware fairly quickly. Unless they they decide to play fast and loose with the GPL... Or if it is just a pig.

Re:Oh the irony (2, Informative)

jd (1658) | about 7 years ago | (#20886105)

Well, a 5 second boot time and a Flash image of Linux matches the specs and description of LinuxBIOS. If that is what they are using, then there is really nothing much for them to release other than maybe some minor patches. I would consider them entirely in compliance with the GPL if they provide their own additions (in full) and how those additions are added, along with a comprehensive set of package names, versions, URLs of master sources, and so on. Actually hosting more than they wrote would seem to be unnecessary, so long as EVERYTHING is made available.

However, given that this is almost certainly just a LinuxBIOS-flased motherboard with a mini distro on whatever bytes were left over, I'd say that it should be possible to produce a comparable system on any motherboard that is capable of holding a Flash chip of the necessary size. (This will be a LOT bigger than normal, so you may hit a whole bunch of design limitations.) It should therefore be possible to sell LinuxBIOS + BIOSdistros for any motherboard out there that can handle the chip, as an upgrade.

I support ASUS' experimentation - that's good - but people need to see that it's late in coming and it's more limited than the technology supports. Motherboard companies shouldn't be permitted to move as slow as possible and drag their feet when it creates the delusion that technology is more limited than it really is. The pace needs to be upped a little - just enough to show the consumers that they've been paying top dollar for decade-old components.

Surprised at mouse support? (0)

Anonymous Freak (16973) | about 7 years ago | (#20885867) can use your USB mouse; it's not keyboard-dependent which was another surprise.

Uh... Has this guy been living under a rock? I'm not even assuming he thinks Linux doesn't have USB mouse support, which would be just plain ridiculous. There have been graphical BIOSes for years! I know I had a computer back in the mid 90s that let me use the mouse to change BIOS settings. So why would it be a surprise that a full-blown Linux system, even if it is embedded in the BIOS, would have mouse support?

Re:Surprised at mouse support? (1)

bitserf (756357) | about 7 years ago | (#20886569)

The AMI BIOS of my AMD DX4/100 486 had mouse and rudimentary GUI support...since then it's been a text-only affair though, which is odd but I'm not complaining. I prefer the 80x25 text mode bios.

Re:Surprised at mouse support? (1)

spiderbitendeath (577712) | about 7 years ago | (#20886737)

Mouse support? Hell, I had an old IBM PS/2 Model 77 that would error out on post if there wasn't a mouse attached, and required drivers for the BIOS, just to add an add-on card.

How much? (3, Insightful)

DigiShaman (671371) | about 7 years ago | (#20885927)

$360? OUCH!!!!

Because of the price, this mobo will be a total flop. Unless you're an overclocker, most PC builders want a simple board that still provides the latest in North/South bridge technologies. No WiFi, no super mega 7.1 audio, no dual nics, no on-board video. None of that crap matters in our market. If we really wanted all of those features, we would purchase a thin client PC from Dell which includes a nice warranty should any of those on-board features fail.

Re:How much? (4, Insightful)

FranTaylor (164577) | about 7 years ago | (#20886031)

You really demonstrate your ignorance of the market. There are a lot of motherboards out there that cost this much and more. If they were flops they wouldn't keep selling them. The market is splintered all over the place, which is why we have cheeseball motherboards for duffers like you and fancy ones for people who want fancy features without using up all the internal slots. "our" market is really "your" market. And last I checked, motherboards come with warranties, too.

Re:How much? (2, Informative)

DigiShaman (671371) | about 7 years ago | (#20886075)

There's a market for them because they obviously sell. But when I'm talking about "our" market, I'm talking about the Slashdot crowd. I will almost guarantee that most people here do NOT want an "all-in-one" board.

These all-in-one boards are for two types of people. The first type are for overclockers that want all those extra tweaking features found only with these type of boards. The second type is for entry-level PC builders. No serious enthusiast will DARE build one with the idea of actually using these on-board features. Those that do, simply disable them and use their own expansion cards.

So you want to tell me again that I don't know WHAT THE FUCK I'M talking about?! Go on buddy, just try it!

Re:How much? (2, Insightful)

CrosseyedPainless (27978) | about 7 years ago | (#20886621)

Hey, I'm a 3-or-4 mobo a year kinda guy myself, and I like all-in-ones because when they get demoted from my primary system, they get stripped of all the cool gear. The more built-in crap they have, the closer they are to finding a new (albeit lesser) role in my computing world.

There! Now you've learned a new idea! Chill the fuck out!!

Re:How much? (1)

Aladrin (926209) | about 7 years ago | (#20886627)

I'll bite: You don't know what the fuck you're talking about.

This may be an all-in-one board, but it's got something that no other all-in-one board has ever had: Linux on the chip. Geeks everywhere are already trying to figure out how to get one of these so they can tinker with the onboard Linux and build that little dream system they've been contemplating for years. The very fact that people have been posting (on THIS website) their hopes that this would happen is proof enough that price of the first version -does not matter-. And that's what this is, the first.

As for the other guy, he called you out because you said 'total flop'. Now you backpedal and claim you meant 'total flop with the slashdot crowd', which is -not- what you said at all. It doesn't matter though, because you're wrong on both accounts.

Re:How much? (1)

speaker of the truth (1112181) | about 7 years ago | (#20886049)

Sounds great for Internet cafes though. No need to look down the computer using software (that can be circumvented, often by simply installing Firefox >:D), it comes preinstalled. Although there'd need to be some timer or something for it to be truly useful in such instances.

Re:How much? (1)

Dunbal (464142) | about 7 years ago | (#20886051)

a thin client PC from Dell which includes a nice warranty when any of those on-board features fail.

There, I fixed it for you.

two possibilities (4, Interesting)

Verte (1053342) | about 7 years ago | (#20885947)

I wonder if the ability to mount other media is restricted in the BIOS or the actual system.

If it is the latter, and since the system can be updated from a running OS, it should be possible to put your kernel, servers and window manager in the flash and have most of your operating system boot instantly. And I have no doubt that if that is the case, some very clever person who was given one of these will work out how to do just that. Given that this does use a Linux kernel, it shouldn't be too hard to get source for any hardware specific issues you might find in booting from this.

Otherwise, this is pretty boring. There has been software available to, say, play media without booting into your operating system for ages.

Re:two possibilities (1)

BrookHarty (9119) | about 7 years ago | (#20886531)

Kinda nice idea, go grab the latest drivers or read a forum if you have an issue with a driver.

No driver bootup with instant web access, wish I had that in the past myself... Wonder if the stripped down firefox runs java apps, for web based ssh terminal.

Sounds cool to me, wouldnt use it much, but nice feature when you need it.

LinuxBIOS (4, Interesting)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | about 7 years ago | (#20886061)

So how does this compare to LinuxBIOS?

I'll start:


  - More capabilities, freedom to tinker
  - Less expensive hardware
  - Usually not supported by vendor, doesn't work with lots of motherboards

Re:LinuxBIOS (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20886159)

Linux BIOS works with so few motherboards that I gave up on it sometime ago.

It doesn't seem to be going anywhere.

Almost there (1)

Gnavpot (708731) | about 7 years ago | (#20886143)

In a way it is sad to see a motherboard which is so close to offering built-in system rescue and system installation help.

If the onboard OS could write to the harddrive or at least a USB stick, this would be perfect for downloading latest drivers prior to performing a Windows installation. Especially network drivers which always seem to create a Catch 22 on newer motherboards (you have to have network drivers installed in Windows if you want to download network drivers). A direct link to the drivers for this specific motherboard could even be preconfigured in the browser.

Re:Almost there (2, Insightful)

mok000 (668612) | about 7 years ago | (#20886251)

I agree... so close, but no cigar.

I would like to see a bunch of Linux disk utilities like parted, fsck, dd, etc., hardware diagnosis programs like memtest86, benchmarking software, security auditing, etc. All the stuff we usually have on a Live-CD Linux system.

I guess the webbrowser is useful, and so is Skype in case you need to make a call to a support hotline.

And finally, why not LinuxBIOS instead of Megatrends?

about time (1)

rhade (709207) | about 7 years ago | (#20886275)

I have to ask why this has taken so long, we needed this 10 years ago. The asus site says its down, cant find all the details, does it come with all linux partitioning tools? including resizing of partitions? I know this can be provided by live cd's, but what if you dont have a cd player? This is fantastic, finally having it available, but really about damn time.

What a waste of a good motherboard (0, Troll)

itsybitsy (149808) | about 7 years ago | (#20886387)

That's a bizarre waste of an otherwise good motherboard.

How about letting us put whatever OS we want on it instead? Ick, Linux.

How about Minux? OpenBSD? FreeBSD? ExoKernel? ___OS?

Linux. Ick to the max.

Re:What a waste of a good motherboard (1)

callinyouin (1138469) | about 7 years ago | (#20886651)

How about letting us put whatever OS we want on it instead?
You can't seriously think that ASUS made a motherboard where installing an OS to disk would be restricted. Please, say it ain't so! Of course, you might be talking about putting your own OS on the flash chip itself which would be great if ASUS' business model was to not cater their products to regular (and by that I mean non-geek) end users whatsoever.

How about Minux? OpenBSD? FreeBSD? ExoKernel?
Alright, I can see maybe OpenBSD or FreeBSD, although not with brand new hardware, but Minix and ExOS (Exokernel is a type of kernel, MIT's versions include XOK and ExOS) are probably a bit too premature to be a primary OS. That is, unless you have to live on the edge and refuse to use a stable operating system, especially with ExOS being in alpha stage. Minix is obviously more mature since it's been around for a pretty long time, but to quote the Minix3 homepage, "It [Minix] is nowhere near as mature as FreeBSD or Linux right now." With name-drops like ExoKernel I'm led to believe that you're a far-superior computer user. I'm sorry that I've wasted your time. Good luck putting ExOS on your brand new P5E3 Deluxe-based rig, you little computer wizard you.

If only (0, Redundant)

Drahgkar (945536) | about 7 years ago | (#20886419)

If only they made a version with Nvidia SLI support instead of ATI Crossfire...

Re:If only (1)

They'reComingToTakeM (1091657) | about 7 years ago | (#20886701)

The board uses Intel's X38 chipset. Unfortunately, Intel no longer purchases SLI licenses from Nvidia.
(I can't remember offhand if Intel won't buy, or Nvidia won't sell).

Yes but.. (1)

ms1234 (211056) | about 7 years ago | (#20886439)

...can you read your email with it?

Re:Yes but.. (1)

knahrvorn (1074398) | about 7 years ago | (#20886617)

Can it make coffee?

Skype for linux? (1)

paulatz (744216) | about 7 years ago | (#20886465)

It is at least strange that they have chosen to use skype, as its linux version is complete crap, lacking most of the features. Let's at least hope that this will speed up skype development a bit

Re:Skype for linux? (1)

Marcion (876801) | about 7 years ago | (#20886717)

Good point, that man. The first thing a Windows skype user will do is say, where is the video? My Webcam doesn't work...

Asus: Our favorite Vapourware announcer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20886615)

Kids, before you wet your pants over that one, think about the Eee. Yes, that piece of Vapourware Asus announced at CeBIT. It is supposed to be a laptop with Linux. It doesn't ship, but Asus took the liberty to reduce the specs and increase the price, while pushing the imaginary shipping date forward month after month.

Possible GPL violation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20886703)

Does anyone now if this is allowed? []

Because I don't think you're allowed to "reserve all rights" on the GPL-ed parts of this application.

Re:Possible GPL violation? (2, Interesting)

Marcion (876801) | about 7 years ago | (#20886731)

I wonder if it has any GPL3 software, if I remember correctly, GPL3 mentions about screens specifically as a place to put the credit.

To be honest I am not interested in the software, the question is whether the Motherboard can be reflashed with my own choice of mini-distro.
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