Storage

Cotton Candy: Linux computer on a stick

Cotton Candy is the latest in tiny, Linux-powered computers now available for consumers. How tiny? This one is contained on a USB-stick you can carry in your pocket.

Norwegian company FXI Technologies is now taking orders for Cotton Candy, literally a USB stick-sized device, billing itself as the world's smallest computer. This pint-sized device plugs into a USB port and connects to a display via HDMI, making it a highly portable, any-screen computer.

According to the website, Cotton Candy:

...Allows users a single, secure point of access to all personal cloud services and apps through their favorite operating system, while delivering a consistent experience on any screen.  The device will serve as a companion to smartphones, tablets, and notebook PC and Macs, as well add smart capabilities to existing displays, TVs, set top boxes and other media that supports USB mass storage.

Technical specs:

  • Quad Core ARM Mali400MP Graphics Processing Unit
  • Wi-fi 802.11 b/g/n
  • Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR
  • 1GB DRAM
  • Up to 64GB memory local storage (microSD)
  • Operating Systems supported: Android Gingerbread and Ice Cream Sandwich and Ubuntu
  • Virtualization client for Windows, Linux, Mac, embedded

Video / Audio / Media Support:

  • 480p/720p/1080p decode of MPEG4-SP/H.263/H.264 AVC/MPEG-2/VC1
  • MP3, AAC, AAC+, Real Audio
  • JPG, GIF, BMP, PNG
  • Additional video, audio and image formats can be supported through 3rd party codecs
  • Connectors
  • USB 2.0 male form factor for power and connection to devices that support USB mass storage
  • HDMI 2.1 with audio for connection to devices that do not support USB mass storage

Orders for the device can be made via the FXI website; the price is $199 USD.

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About

Selena has been at TechRepublic since 2002. She is currently a Senior Editor with a background in technical writing, editing, and research. She edits Data Center, Linux and Open Source, Apple in the Enterprise, The Enterprise Cloud, Web Designer, and...

22 comments
myangeldust
myangeldust

They say, "The device will serve as a companion to smartphones, tablets, and notebook PC and Macs, as well add smart capabilities to existing displays, TVs, set top boxes and other media that supports USB mass storage." But what exactly does that mean? If you have one of those other devices you can already access your cloud service through them. Now I can see if it's a tiny PC that you can plug into a monitor or television so long as you don't forget to bring your tiny keyboard with trackpad with you. Can I just install Cotton Candy OS onto any flashdrive and boot up a computer with it? Has anyone tried it?

ManoaHI
ManoaHI

At first glance, this looks like a cool idea. But upon further thinking, it starts to look like it doesn't make any sense. On the possible uses, they indicate you can repurpose an old monitor or old TV. How old? How many old monitors or old TVs have HDMI? Running Ubuntu (or another Linux distro) can be done many ways including Virtual Box. Our two TVs have HDMI ports (all used, however) but this would stick out so much I would have to buy new TV mounts or make a hole in the wall to accomodate the device. Or, I would need an HDMI cable. It is unusable without a Bluetooth keyboard and/or Bluetooth mouse. Oh, and you still need a USB power source. Hmmm. seems like an Android tablet with HDMI or wireless media server software would be the best option (and you still have a tablet). As far as having a complete presentation, what would you need? Unless the price comes down to USB flash drive prices, it makes little sense. Basically it is a tablet device with no display, no interface, no battery. At double the price, I could get a really nice tablet.

The Management consultant
The Management consultant

Openindiana has been offering USB cloud desktop versions for sometime.I am not sure why Android could not be converted to do the same.I welcome any development to this Opensource idea.

The Management consultant
The Management consultant

Sun saw the smartphone as the extension of this which could link directly into the server.USB sticks will give way to your smart phone on the server.

The Management consultant
The Management consultant

I think I have missed something here.Solaris,Opensolaris and now Openindiana has been available on a USB stick for some years.Provided you have compatible hardware you can operate this OS on any hardware anywhere.Sun had a lot of good ideas and saw personal USB setups as the product of the future.This fell into the range of personal key technologies built on the server. Is this available already answer yes! Another development of Open source ideas..yes!

realvarezm
realvarezm

With this artefact, the so announced raspberry to come and al the smartphones with all that power. at least im starting to use my smartphone like that little gismo and i've seen the future. On weekends when i dont want to carry my laptop to the office i just use my bluetooth mouse and keyboard and plug it to the HDMI of the monitor and im done. Now i was thinking what about the gogles of google wil that change again the way people work?

DT2
DT2

I'd go with a Raspberry Pi instead. It's a little larger, the size of a credit card. It runs Fedora Linux. Completely stand-alone. The USB port is only needed as a power source. And - it only costs $35.

aroc
aroc

Uh, just where would that USB port be for it to plug into? A "real" computer? A USB hub? Does not seem to be a full computer if it has that requirement.

bolixe29
bolixe29

Can any device work at it should after embedding Windows?? Surprises me the fact that someone really believes that it can work at all. Gosh !!

toodevastate
toodevastate

If you read carefully you will see, (windows, Mac, linux virtualization client embedded, message), meaning we have seen the birth of the first general purpose computer that can accidentally be swallowed, (should you trip and cough at the same time while holding it. A fear I've had of cel phones for years:) Seriously these tiny devices are perfect candidates for wearable computors and the remotetest site operations. Where is it all taking us?

adornoe
adornoe

That's considering that, Linux has about 1% market share on the consumer side, and Microsoft has about 90-99% more users.

ultimitloozer
ultimitloozer

This is the entire package, hardware and software, not just the OS you are referring to.

CFWhitman
CFWhitman

You could plug it into a USB wall wart or perhaps a powered hub. The USB port provides power to the computer. It doesn't need any support from another computer. The Raspberry Pi has a micro-USB port for power. You can use a phone charger for it. This is the same principle.

janitorman
janitorman

"The device will serve as a companion to smartphones, tablets, and notebook PC and Macs, as well add smart capabilities to existing displays, TVs, set top boxes and other media that supports USB mass storage." Just wait, though, we'll have devices this size that will project a virtual 3-d screen and have input methods such as a "virtual touchscreen" or keyboard floating in the air, before you know it, and they'll probably be more powerful than most home PC's available today.

myangeldust
myangeldust

I had always hoped that Microsoft would make Windows Media Center an embedded operating system built into televisions or on flashdrives for computers. I was thinking that a LED LCD with four tuners, a solid state drive, and WMC embedded would make a good combo. It would have space on the chip for upgrades and newly added services. It would have Hulu and YouTube and SkyDrive and could access streaming servers or shared folders on a home network. The ultimate HTPC sans the PC. Dreams.

jsmithling
jsmithling

And add a pound of poo for you to fling.

lgmbackman
lgmbackman

Linux in embedded devices is stronger than Windows. Linuxfordevices.com is a good place to check.

adornoe
adornoe

Hey, I have some Play-Doh for you which my six year old niece has outgrown.

adornoe
adornoe

Proof is much better than statements with no real backing. Now, when it comes to the Windows percentage I mentioned, it's mostly regarding computing devices where the people, aka: the masses, are able to make their own choices.

james.vandamme
james.vandamme

...the only remaining obstacle is for a big manufacturer to grow some cojones and stand up to Microsoft's monopolistic tactics, and sell machines without the Windows tax.

arlkay
arlkay

What the man was trying to say. As long as the general public/casual user does not have to deal with findning drivers, compiling Kernels and finding compatible devices, Linux works as well or better than other OS's. But until some of these obstacles are clearly overcome Linux will be only a smally portion of the desktop world

HAL 9000
HAL 9000

http://www.linuxfordevices.com/ But ignoring Smart Phones and Tablets Linux is very heavily used in a lot of Domestic Devices like the Cable Modem and Routers that are so heavily used. How many $150.00 Routers have you bought because that what the Windows 7 OS Costs to the OEM's. Then you 'll need to add the $90.00 or $100.00 worth of Hardware that is crammed into the insides of those Devices. Also Smart TV's are Embedded Linux and the Smart Fridges and Home Lighting Systems, Washing Machines & Microwave Ovens are all Linux. With all of those Products the OS isn't important to the User as they don't actually see it, they just push the button to do what they want/need to do.