Life sometimes goes in a funny direction, like a full circle déjà vu: 20 years ago, I was studying Technology of Computerized Systems (a combination of electronics and programming). Now, 20 years later, I'm starting a dream job as the Business Development Manager of Artec Group and their core business is — you guessed it — exactly that. The really cool thing about Artec, from a Free Software advocate's point of view, is that they contribute firmware and drivers for their products to LinuxBIOS and the Linux kernel.
At this point, my initial tasks will focus on marketing and selling Artec's flagship OEM product, the ThinCan. What is the ThinCan? Actually, you're already familiar with one iteration of the product: the Linutop is a branded ThinCan, delivered with a custom hardware configuration, plus custom casing artwork designed by Frédéric Baille of Linutop SARL and loaded with Fred's favorite Xubuntu configuration. In the Linutop's case, their business model is to fill the market niche for a simple Internet surfing platform that fits 80% of average people's daily computing needs, so the hardware configuration they ordered reflects that.
Still, as several readers of this blog noticed, the "Linutop" could make a fantastic thin client and, sure enough, that was the main purpose behind the ThinCan's original design; it sells well in the Fortune-500 market as an RDP client running under Windows CE. However, until recently, there simply wasn't much demand for a contemporary X11 terminal solution based on the ThinCan. That is, until LTSP took off, thanks to the contributions of Edubuntu and similar educational Linux distributions. Sure enough, someone spotted the opportunity and contacted Artec to order a branded ThinCan iteration with Etherboot and PXE support, which they call the Linuterm.
By the way, for those who need a really cheap OEM thin client, I've got a great spring clearance offer for you:
Artec has about 500 pieces left of their older DBE60 ThinCan model, based on the AMD Geode SC2200, and we're selling them at 100 euro / piece, plus VAT and shipping.
The DBE60 is configured with three USB 1.1 ports, one parallel printer port, one 100baseT Ethernet port, one VGA port (up to 1024x768 @ 16bpp 60-85Hz or 1280x1024 @ 8bpp 60-75Hz) and one 1/8" stereo audio output jack. Its BIOS provides Etherboot support and its motherboard is populated with 64MB of RAM and 32MB of Stratoflash. It comes delivered with a European AC adapter. The Geode SC2200 is fully supported by the Linux kernel — with the sole exception of a missing ALSA snd-scx200, but this could easily be ported from AMD's deprecated OSS driver — and X.org support is provided by the "nsc" driver.
Minimum order size is 10 pieces. Contact me via my full name (unaccented, with one hyphen and one dot) at artecgroup.com quoting this special offer.
PS: someone was asking if that DBE60 special is also available in the aforementioned Fortune-500 configuration. It indeed is: add 16 euro / piece for the Windows CE 4.1 license with an RDP client.