CherryPal Mini PC Makes Firefox the OS
The CherryPal C100 is a new, small, inexpensive desktop designed to perform all its functions online, right down to data storage. The device runs a version of Debian Linux behind the scenes; however, the browser is really the application through which the user interfaces with the machine. Essentially, Firefox is the unit's operating system.
PC users seeking an environmentally friendly desktop system can add the new CherryPal C100 desktop to the list of contenders.
The machine, announced Monday, was designed by green computer maker CherryPal and contains no moving parts. With 80 percent fewer components, the minimalist system uses a scant 2 watts of power.
"The design goal was to build something [people were used to] with the same user experience, with the same performance metrics but in a very green, very efficient way. It was to use 80 percent less components for a much lower price. It's green and inexpensive and hassle-free," said Max Seybold, CherryPal CEO.
The C100 is initially targeted at younger users in middle school, high school and college.
The absence of moving parts in the CherryPal is immediately apparent. Rather than the towers that PC users have grown accustomed to, the C100 is a diminutive 1.3 inches high, 5.8 inches by 4.2 inches wide and weighs just 10 ounces.
Inside the slender, black rectangular box is Freescale's triple-core 5121e mobileGT 400 MHz processor with integrated graphics, 256 MB of DDR2 DRAM (double-data-rate 2 dynamic random access memory) and a 4 GB NAND Flash-based solid state drive. The C100 also includes 802.11b/g WiFi, two USB (Universal Serial Bus) 2.0 ports, a 10/100 Ethernet support, a VGA out jack, headphone jack and a nine-volt AC adapter power supply.
The Browser as OS
The system's pared down memory will require users to change the way they work with software and data storage. Instead of accessing applications and data saved onto the desktop's local hard drive, the C1000 processes and stores programs and data on the Web in the CherryPalCloud.
Automatically accessed when the computer boots up, the CherryPalCloud is a secure online environment that takes advantage of the new push for so-called cloud computing wherein users store data online, making it accessible to them from a variety of locations and devices.
Users will initially receive 50 GB of free storage and free 24-hour tech support.
The C100 runs an embedded customized version of the Debian Linux operating system, but the machine's makers say its main operating system is the Firefox Internet browser.
"The operating system is not exposed to the user. So the user experience is, you turn it on, fire it up and then you see the log-in screen, user ID and password. The next thing you see is the mandatory landing page -- the Firefox browser," Seybold told TechNewsWorld.
All system-related commands are accessed through the browser, and all applications are loaded via the browser, he continued. "The operating system itself is not exposed. That's for two reasons. One is that people don't like the idea of Linux because it has a geek reputation, the other reason is that it [allowed us] to reduce the overall footprint of the OS, and that has a direct impact on the overall performance and the perceived user experience," Seybold explained.
Users can alter system-related tasks using the system settings tab in the browser or access applications using the tab or pull-down menu.
Preloaded applications on the CherryPal include the OpenOffice productivity suite, iTunes, a CherryPal-branded media player and instant messenger.
The system, available Monday for pre-orders, is priced at US$249.
"Whatever people want to do on a desktop, CherryPal is able to do," Seybold said.