The Mele A1000 is a little box that’s positioned as a media device running Google Android. Plug in a display, power it up, and stream video or run apps on your TV. There’s also an SD card slot and USB ports for external storage.
But you can also boot software from the SD card, which is why the Mele A1000 is generating some excitement from hackers looking for a cheap ARM-based computer. One of those folks shot a video of Ubuntu Linux running on the device.
We’d already seen that it’s possible to boot Ubuntu on the A1000 – but the person that wrote the first guide reported that the system got stuck at the login screen. As the video above shows, it’s possible to go further than the start screen and boot into a fully usable Ubuntu Linux desktop environment.
Performance looks passable, but not stellar. It takes a little while for some of the menus to respond, for instance. But it’s possible that software tweaks could improve the experience.
The Mele A1000 has a 1 GHz Allwinner A10 ARM Cortex-A8 processor, 512MB of RAM, 2GB of storage, and 802.11b/g/n WiFi.
It’s available for as little as $70. While that’s twice the price of a Raspberry Pi computer, the Mele A1000 includes a case, a faster processor, more RAM, and more audio and video connection options.
The Allwinner A10 chip also uses Mali 400 graphics — and there’s currently a project underway to develop open source drivers for that graphics processor, which could make development for this platform easier than for the Raspberry Pi which has closed graphics drivers.