Splashtop: boot into Linux in just five seconds

Linux Splashtop
Splashtop is a Linux distribution designed to fit on a single memory chip that's built into a motherboard

I have a quad-core CPU, super-fast hard disks and heaps of RAM – Linux is already pretty darn nippy if you ask me!

Perhaps. But, let's face it: if it takes more than 30 seconds to get from pressing the power button to you reading your email, that's 30 seconds you could have spent chatting to the pretty lady in the cubicle next to you, reading the latest XKCD comic or – most importantly of all – basking in the glow of the most recent issue of Linux Format magazine.

Oh come on, 30 seconds isn't that long a time it's only half a minute! Besides, I think she's already married…

30 seconds is a long time if you're travelling with a laptop and have to boot up and shut down 20 times a day just to check and send your emails.

Wait… 30… times 20… that's eight minutes!

10, actually. During that time all you're doing is watching a progress bar creep up slowly – and it's even slower if your off-to-typing time is over 30 seconds. Remember, quad-core chips are pretty much desktop only right now, and most mobile CPUs underclock themselves on the move to save power, making boot times easily over a minute (and sometimes two minutes!) for a lot of people.

Bah… I was going to say that the solution was to upgrade to an dual-chip quad-core CPU, giving me eight cores in total!

Throwing more power at the problem is just a waste. I mean, do you really need all of KDE's might just to do a few minutes of web surfing?

OK, you've got me, and I can tell that you're just dying to start talking about this Splashtop thing. So let's get it over with: What on Earth is Splashtop?

I'm glad you asked! Splashtop is a Linux distribution designed to fit on a single memory chip that's built into a motherboard. It doesn't override whatever OS you've installed on your hard drive, meaning that you can have your normal "fat" Linux installed and working as per normal, then reboot into Splashtop as and when you need to. It's all in hardware, which means it's almost instant-on – the average boot time is around five seconds. That's about as fast as it takes Linux to come out of a deep sleep, so you might as well just turn all your computers off.

But, but, but… I like to tinker with things. I like to have the absolute latest build of Firefox. I like having to fix things until they break!

And that's one of the reasons why your boot time is so bad! Think about it: Splashtop is a system you never need to upgrade, you never need to re-install, and you never need to fsck. No matter what you do to your main Linux install, Splashtop carries on working, carries on booting at speed, and carries on being perfect for quick tasks on the web.


You don't seem convinced. We're talking speed, we're talking security and we're talking stability, all in one!

Yes, but I'm not sure I could just live on Firefox…

Well, think about it – once you have Firefox, you have MySpace, Facebook, Google, Wikipedia, BBC News, Slashdot and any other favourites of yours. All together means you have your friends, you have information, and you have entertainment. You can even use things like Google Docs to read and write Word documents and Excel spreadsheets, create calendars and more.

I know, I know. But if I'm going to use any operating system, it needs to have more than Firefox, it's that simple.

Then it's lucky for you that Splashtop also includes Skype, a media player, a photo manager and an internet chat client.