Although mini PCs are typically preloaded with various versions of Google’s Android operating system, there’s always been demand to hack them into running other versions of Android’s parent operating system – Linux. Ever since the days of the original MK802 in 2012, people have been hacking the devices to load in custom versions of Ubuntu and other Linux distros designed for the majority ARMv7 instruction set CPUs.
Well, mini PC maker Rikomagic has now decided to go the whole hog and plans on releasing new ‘Linux Edition’ versions of its dual-core MK802III and quad-core MK802IV mini PCs called the MK802III LE and MK802IV LE.
The deal is in conjunction with CloudSto Electronics and will include a 16GB MicroSD card preloaded with Picuntu being bundled with the kit. Picuntu is a custom ARM version of the popular Ubuntu Linux release. While its not clear if the MK802III/IV models will still come with Android-something preloaded on the internal flash (or how much flash will be included), all you’ll need to do is pop the MicroSD card into the device, power it up and you’ll have a Ubuntu-grade desktop environment. Effectively, it’s a genuine desktop computer.
What’s interesting is that Rikomagic appears to be using the non-Bluetooth version of the MK802III – not the MK802IIIS release. The MK802IV already has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth integrated.
At this stage, there are no details on pricing or a shipping date but Rikomagic is taking down pre-order interest on its website if you want to know more. The good news is that Picuntu has supported GPU acceleration for the Mali-400 core since February 2013 but appeared in Picuntu for the first time in early May. That should mean apps like XBMC work normally without stuttered video playback.
As liliputing points out, most Rockchip-based mini PCs are able to run Pictuntu already but the Rikomagic option allows you to bypass the complexity of installing it yourself.
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