Moblin.org is Intel's Linux-based initiative to develop a software stack for a new range of highly mobile computing devices, including MIDs (mobile Internet Devices) and netbooks (like the Classmate). This site was highlighted during a keynote at IDF last week and, while the focus is clearly on MIDs, it is obvious that Intel and a growing community of developers (an ecosystem in Intel-speak) are well on their way to creating a non-Windows platform that fully exploits the utility of these new devices.
For example, their list of ongoing projects includes:
- Moblin Image Creator (image-based deployments)
- UI Framework
- Power Management Policy (ed tech take: can we get a full day of battery life out of these devices as students move around their classes?)
- Browser (extensions of Mozilla-based browsers with "with features such as a simple, finger-driven UI")
- Linux Connection Manager (whether via cellular, Wifi, WiMax, etc., users are always seamlessly online)
From an Ed Tech perspective, a closer examination of these projects shows a real focus on plug-ins and easy extensibility by developers. Imagine a teacher-oriented UI, a high school-student UI, a college classroom interaction UI, etc., making MIDs and Classmate-like PCs easily tweaked for a variety of audiences. This is consistent with Intel's approach to the Classmate, as well, closely involving local developers and OEMs to customize deployments to meet specific educational goals and needs.
Netbooks are affordable now and should start seeing these technologies trickle into their non-Windows OS choices as Atom processors are rolled out. Early MIDs look to be fairly pricey, but the Moblin project certainly brings to mind a lot of ways the educational and the open source communities can partner to put innovative products and software into the hands of teachers and students as the market evolves and prices come down.