SolidRun has a new line of tiny computers that fit in the palm of your hand, but which you can use as a full-fledged Linux desktop PC. The new CuBox-i line of tiny computers sell for between $45 and $120 and are available with Freescale i.MX6 single, dual, and quad-core processors.

And they’re only about two inches square.

Cubox-i

If the CuBox name sounds familiar, that’s because SolidRun introduced its first CuBox mini-PC in 2011. It was also a 2 inch mini-computer, but it features an 800 MHz Marvell Armada processor and sold for $120 and up.

The new models are both faster and cheaper.

There are 4 versions, all featuring ARM Cortex-A9 processors, 2 USB 2.0 ports, a microSD card slot, Ethernet jacks, and more.

The single-core model has just 512MB of RAM, while the dual and quad-core variants have between 1GB and 2GB. The highest-priced models also have WiFi and Bluetooth built-in, whereas those are only options on the cheapest models. They also feature support for SATA drives.

cubox-i

While the Freescale i.MX6 processor family may not be as fast as the latest chips from Qualcomm, Samsung, NVIDIA, or even Rockchip, Freescale offers a lot of documentation for its chips which makes them good choices for low-power devices designed to run GNU/Linux software as well as Android.

Just don’t expect the same kind of performance from a $45 PC (or even the $120 model) as you’d get from a high-performance Linux desktop with an x86 processor (and a significantly larger footprint) like the ones offered by ZaReason or System76.

via LinuxGizmos

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18 replies on “CuBox-i mini PCs can run Android or Linux, sell for $45 and up”

    1. Most likely, yes. Other i.MX6 devices have been running it for a little while.

  1. The device ships with Android, I cant see that you can order this with a Linux OS?

  2. I ask the same ? of all these ARM device makers (I own a few already) — 3D Graphics acceleration for ‘windowing’ using the onboard graphics CHIP? If == ‘yes’ then I am a buyer of LOTS of these for my business; if == ‘no’ (or ‘coming soon’), then forget it. I need proof with benchmarks. Just my two cents. //GH

    1. What does you mean “windowing”.
      Does those devices support hardware acceleration for GUI – 2D interfaces? Yes, it does (for Android)
      But, not of all of those devices ‘ll support it in Linux (it’s depends only from manufacturer).

      1. The Linux sunxi community has an accelerated Xorg driver under development that uses 2D acceleration for windowing.
        The same goes for the raspberry pi. So you just need to hang in there, and contribute some code if you can 😉

        1. I suppose, that it should be made from manufacturer, and not rely (in common) on community. Communtiy should help, commit/contribute, debug but not create from zero.
          As an example, I can remember hardkernel – o-droid series. It is very interesting series of single board computers, but about half of them doesn’t have 2D or 3D hardware accelerate, ’cause communtiy didn’t provide stable and reliable drivers for it for Linux usage. XBMC works well – only in Android and 720p playing is painful in Linux with software acceleration.

    2. I agree, the thing is ARM Linux for desktops is a relatively new concept mainly because the hardware is only just reaching a stage where it’s feasible to use these devices as a desktop computer. Currently there are very few options when it comes to having an “accelerated” desktop environment under linux on ARM which uses the devices graphics hardware to do things like window compositing. ChromeOS does this but what we are waiting for is an accelerated window manager for ARM devices running linux… my bet is something will happen soon for devices using a popular GPU, the MALI 400 for example. Wayland is a project to watch, they have this concept working on the Raspberry Pi…

      1. …you are spot on. (and yes, I will track the Wayland thread(s) for demonstrable progress). I have a sense that this time next year there will me multiple optinos avaiolable with GPU DT acceleration.

  3. As I learned with my Chromebook when I installed Ubuntu, it is not enough to know whether the computer runs Linux, but whether the applications I wanted to install are supported for a particular type of processor. Skype is something I couldn´t install under Ubuntu on my Chromebook.

    1. Skype is possible to download for ubuntu on chromebook, just go to skype.com and select your distribution and open the downloaded file. It should take you to the ubuntu app store

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