Linux vendor MandrakeSoft on Thursday announced the release of Globetrotter, a mobile hard drive loaded with its operating system that turns any computer into a Linux box.
The hard drive runs from the USB port of a computer and allows users to turn most PCs into a Linux desktop without modifying the host computer.
Clément Contet, a project manager at MandrakeSoft, said that Globetrotter is an extension of the concept behind MandrakeMove, a CD which can be used to boot a personalised desktop. He said the major improvement in Globetrotter was the increase in storage. The Globetrotter device stores 30GB of data, while MandrakeMove can only handle 1GB.
Globetrotter is geared towards people who are comfortable with Linux and want to be able to use it everywhere without carrying a laptop, said Contet. It's not entirely clear how many people need such a device, and Contet said the company has modest initial sales goals.
"I will feel it's a success if we sell 500 of the first batch of the product," said Contet.
James Governor, an analyst at RedMonk, said that there is an increasing market for mobile products, and that the 30GB storage in Globetrotter is likely to attract some Linux users.
"1GB sounds massive, but if you are storing multimedia files on your computer it racks up very quickly. For example, if you want to carry around a few movies with you this would be useful," he said.
But Governor thinks many will wait until that amount of memory is available in a smaller form.
"I'm holding out for a 30GB USB memory stick. Once 30GB is available on a USB stick, I think these devices will really take off," he said.
Globetrotter has been produced in conjunction with hardware manufacturer LaCie and costs $219.
HP recently announced that the HP Compaq Business Notebook nx5000 will come pre-loaded with either SuSE or Mandrake Linux 9.1.