VolksPC mini PC run Android and Debian Linux simultaneously

Tiny, low-powered PCs with ARM-based processors like the MK802 or Tronsmart Vega S89 usually ship with Android software that lets you stream videos, play games, or surf the web on a TV. But many of these little devices can also run other Linux-based operating systems such as Ubuntu, Debian, or Fedora.

Now the folks at VolksPC are working on a new system that lets you run both Android and Debian Linux at the same time, which allows you to run LibreOffice or other full desktop Linux apps as well as Android apps for Netflix, YouTube, and other features that might not work as well in Linux-on-ARM.

debian rk3066

Eventually VolksPC plans to sell an ARM-powered mini PC with its software. It’s not yet available, but you can see their software working in a demo video which shows Android and Debian with the LXDE desktop environment running on the same system at the same time.

While both operating systems rely on the same kernel, they’re running independently of one another: You can shut down Android and keep running Debian or you can shut down Debian and just run Android. But in order to switch between Android and Debian apps, you’ll need to switch between desktop environments: you can’t have an Android app and a desktop Linux app on screen at the same time.

The demo video shows a system with Rockchip RK3066 ARM Cortex-A9 dual-core processor. It’s a low-power chip, but Android and Debian apps seem to run at respectable speeds.

The first VolksPC device will likely be a small box with an RK3066 processor, 1GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, 10/100 Ethernet, 4 USB 2.0 ports, HDMI output, a VGA port, and 802.11n WiFi, and an SD card reader.

via Phoronix

  • Leroy Brown

    Only a gig of ram? Android alone is pokey with that. This thing is going to be dog slow unless it has a minimum of 2

    • mo

      Ya, I wonder how well this would run when both OS’s are loaded during real world use with only 1 GB of RAM. The video shows quite a bit of RAM usage when both weren’t running anything (assuming it wasn’t reporting cache/buffer usage). Shutting down and booting each OS frequently would be a pain too.

      Oh well, I don’t really see the use of running Android on a desktop when you have a desktop OS. This’ll be nice when they can easily get this to run on small tablets and smartphones though.

    • Grant Russell

      A gig of ram runs Android perfectly. I have a cheap $99 Kobo arc tablet with a 1.5ghz dual core, and 1gb of ram. It can run a Dreamcast emulator faster than 100% speed.

  • http://g33ky.de/ Dr. Azrael Tod

    i cant stand these “VolksWhatever”-Bullshit names that some people deem trendy nowadays.

    “Volksempfänger” was the original kit to build a radio. Massively enforced by the Nazis (and developed by order of Goebbels himself).
    And now its just ok to use such names? For what reason? To mark it as “german”?

    • James

      Do you associate Volkswagen with being pro Nazi too?

      • James

        Also, volk is a regularly used German word. You’re over thinking things.

      • http://g33ky.de/ Dr. Azrael Tod

        yes it is. but most usage is nowadays somewhat connotated to the previous nazi-over-usage.

        as in “Völkisch” (the adjectuve build from volk) meaning currently pretty much “nazi”.

        even wikipedia knows about this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volk#Volk_in_German

      • Popolon

        The same word in Chinese, Renmin is used to denote the money of People Republic of China, So the word « People » should really banned in any language.
        There are some countries using the word Republic with different spelling probably bad too. And the words United are really linked to Bush family and Obama anti-semitic (more precisely anti-muslim ?) wars (Afghanistan, Irak, Syria, Libya…) or something like that.

        Oh, i forgot, the word knesset should probably linked to something like apartheid too ???, And worst the same meaning word is used in different languages to call places where few people decide for their whole country to launch wars against other country randomly to please their weaponery industry.

      • http://g33ky.de/ Dr. Azrael Tod

        indeed i do.

        there was a wish (explicitely formulated in march 1934 by hitler himself) for a cheap car (less than 1000 RM) that should be able to drive 100km/h.
        this idea was called the volkswagen

        of course there was much history between this and the current state of VW and i wouldn’t suggest VW should switch names because of its origin.
        but calling everything “VolksFoo” is a trend the nazis started without doubt. it was (at least in germany) a absolute no-go for some decades but in the last 10-20 years its “ok” again to do so.

        I don’t say that every VolksThing is associated with nazis. But when you name your product you should know something about that name. And the possibility to look like nazi-associated isn’t something i would want for my products.

      • Ben Garner

        A Jewish family I knew in high school thought that my family were Nazis because we had a Mercedes.

    • OS/2-Nutzer

      “For what reason? To mark it as “german”?”
      No. It simply wants to imply something of reasonable quality and affordable for the masses, the people, the nation, das Volk.
      Hence people’s-PC = Volks-PC.
      But I agree, that the Nazis with their nationalistic view often abused the word “Volk” for their propagandistic purposes.

  • Jules Kondo

    Does anyone know why this dual boot method does not work on common android tablets? Is it because of closed source proprietary hardware drivers?

    This method of dual boot actually seems like the crouton method on Chromebooks. (Using the kernel for two environments)

    I can imagine how useful this would be on a tablet.

    • jase

      It’s not the same as crouton. This doesn’t run one OS via a chroot inside the other OS like crouton does. The 2 OS’s are independent of each other and can individually shutdown/powered up.

      In terms of the end resulting, it looks similar to bare metal virtualization. Although they may be doing something thing different under the hood.

      • Jules Kondo

        Ah okay, thanks. So, any idea why this isn’t done on tablets? Seems to me like they could just use the same hardware and add a touchscreen.

  • stuart binning

    I think this a great idea, but it needs the hardware to make it work, 2gb ram would work, but 4gb would be more realistic, the newer Intel has well celeron chips are very low powered,, but I don’t know enough about arm to say.
    I run 2 android tablets and a Chromebook, which I am about to put a Linux Ubuntu distro on as a dual boot.
    If I could do that with a beefed up android tablet, or even designs like the original Asus prime tf201, (my first tablet, now bricked,) with the keyboard dock would be an excellent idea. I wouldn’t need a Chromebook if I had a high powered android that could boot to Linux…..please let this be a part of the future

  • Sham

    You can’t brand cultures & languages for what you think happened. If that were so, Sharon, Bush & Dick have brought death & destruction to Muslims. Would you shun those names too? This “holier than thou” nazi bashing zionist attitude should stop now.

  • http://soltesza.wordpress.com/ sola

    I like this development very much, especially, that it is possible to use the two OSes in parallel.

    Debian is also a fairly good choice for the desktop part and Android is a must in this category (playing videos hw accelerated and such is only supported in Android these days)

    If this distro was available for a wide variety of ARM hardware, it would quickly become very popular.

    I would highly recommend a Samsung Chromebook1 port for this OS since that was sold in fairly big quantities.