It looks like it may be time to stop calling tiny ARM-based devices like the MK802 Android TV sticks and go back to calling them mini PCs. Rikomagic UK has announced it will start shipping Linux Editions of two of its most recent ARM-powered stick-sized computers.

The MK802 III LE (Linux Edition) and MK802 IV LE will both run a custom version of Ubuntu called Picuntu, and they’ll be available from the Cloudsto store soon.

Rikomagic MK802 III LE

Both devices are already available with Google Android preloaded and typically sell for between $50 and $100.

Folks interested in running Picuntu can already install it on either the MK802 III or MK802 IV themselves. Most devices with Rockchip RK3066 or RK3188 processors should be able to run a version of Picuntu, and there are even remixes designed to offer more out-of-the-box features.

But installing Ubuntu or other GNU/Linux operating systems can be a bit complicated and time consuming. Since there seems to be demand for a device of this type that runs desktop software like Ubuntu rather than a mobile operating system like Ubuntu, it looks like the UK branch of Rikomagic plans to offer models that come pre-loaded with Picuntu.

In other words, for under $100 you’ll be able to buy a tiny, low power computer that runs Ubuntu Linux. Plug it into the HDMI port on your TV or monitor and hook up a keyboard and mouse and you’ve basically got yourself a cheap, efficient desktop computer.

It may not be able to run every desktop app you’d like, and it won’t be a speed demon. But it’ll offer access to real desktop apps like LibreOffice, GIMP, Thunderbird, VLC, XBMC, and desktop versions of the Firefox and Chromium web browsers, just to name a few.

The current MK802 III features a 1.6 GHz ARM Cortex-A9 dual-core processor, 1GB of RAM, 8GB of storage, a microSD card slot, 802.11b/g/n WiFi, and full-sized and micro USB ports.

Rikomagic’s MK802 IV offers similar specs, but it has a faster Rockchip RK3188 ARM Cortex-A9 quad-core processor and 2GB of RAM.

The company hasn’t said if the Linux Edition versions of these mini PCs will have the exact same hardware as the Android versions which are currently available. The dual-core model should be available first.

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17 replies on “Rikomagic UK to offer Minix Linux ARM PCs (MK802 III LE, MK802 IV LE)”

  1. Dear friends,
    I have Rikomagic mk802 iis w/ Bluetooth and android and I want to run linux on it with xbmc! I am hearing things about xbmc and linux would love to set this up as I am not happy with the experience with the xmbc running android on mk802 iis.
    I have searched all over the web and found a lot but I am very not sure which instruction is the best setup for my hardware. Can someone please point me to the rigth direction or a link to step by step guide on how to do this. I have a windows PC or mac to work with.
    Thank you so much for your time.

  2. Last I heard they were making some in roads with HW Acceleration by reverse engineering the Mali drivers. Wonder where its at now?, haven’t checked in a while

  3. This is great news as I have literally no interest in running Android on these things. The problem is hardware graphics acceleration… really want to see Linux driver support!

    1. if people buy them with dekstop linux preinstalled, the manufacturers will see the demand and release more hardware support.

      most of them have no idea that a lot of people use other things than the old default android OS on these.

      If something is selling they see nothing broken. Only when they see a different setup also selling is when they become aware.

      1. It’s the chicken and egg thing. No one will buy a desktop ARM Linux device because long term support doesn’t exist. OEMs won’t provide long term Linux support because no one is buying them.

        1. Yeah, true.

          But where there’s a will there’s a way (even the chicken ended up figuring it out :p).

          More open source OSs seem to have that will to break into the mobile space (ubuntu, firefoxOS, etc.) pre-installed, so I believe they will be the firsts to help tear down those barriers.

  4. This is nice, but why not save carrying a second SKU? Just ship them with both loaded and let the user decide which one they want, saving the other one for future use or simply deleting it to free up space?

    1. I agree with you. I’d keep both Android and Linux on it. Each for its purpose.

  5. One day, some magic genius should figure out how to do an Altoids box mod for these devices so you can swap in the latest stuff and continue on once the version you have becomes obsolete. Then again, using something like pico-itx boards becomes mighty interesting and useful.

  6. I’m hoping we’ll see many mini desktop PCs using an Intel Silvermont based SoC. At least Intel has proven that they’ll continue to provide driver updates for Linux for their in-house developed hardware.

    Intel still provides updates to their G45 chipset I’ve had since 2008 It’s rare for ARM vendors to provide updates to their proprietary drivers for at least a year.

    ARM may be winning in efficiency right now but they’re losing on the software side. Of course, that side is only the Linux market which isn’t that big but I’m part of it so I care. There’s Windows 8 and it’s possible Microsoft will bring Windows 8 to ARM and get rid of RT but I’m not really interested in Windows.

    1. If we can avoid Microsoft extending its OS Monopoly, it will be good for everyone. They always were a bully, and now they’ve become unreliable and idiotic on top of it.

  7. “Since there seems to be demand for a device of this type that runs
    desktop software like Ubuntu rather than a mobile operating system like
    Ubuntu” – I am confused: shouldn’t the second Ubuntu read Picuntu?

  8. I don’t remember. Can these sticks play YouTube full screen above 360P without stuttering?

  9. But, will they offer accelerated video and graphics ? It seems actually using all the GPU’s capabilities is a major challenge because of driver issues; and the CPU isn’t up to the task of doing 3D or HD video by itself.

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