xPud is a tiny operating system for daily casual use. It is a Linux distribution with many features taken away. The only functions left are a web browser, a media player and a file manager.
What bother to build such a stripped-down system? In the words of the project owners:
We’re trying to achieve the following goals in this project:
- lightweight and fast booting
- applications for daily use
- easy-to-use user interface
We shall see if xPud meets these goals.
The “plate” user interface is extremely simple and clean. It looks like those interactive systems commonly found in a kiosk (for tourist information, for example). On the left are four tabs giving access to (1) system info and toggling wifi, (2) apps, (3) file system and (4) settings.
Your interaction with the menu is intuitive, just click. All texts are large so that even your grandmother can tell what she is clicking on clearly. The menus are highly graphical as the designers maximized the use of icons (except in the setting tab which obviously requires a bit more text), merely looking at the icons let me know what they are about.
The pave the shortest path to the cloud, the xPud authors built the OS around the browser (similar to other cloud-based OS like Chrome OS and Joli OS). Web apps, which are links to web sites opened full-screen, are also provided. However, knowing that internet users’ need to open documents and play multimedia files with other internet users, local apps such as PDF viewer and media player are built-in. There are optional local apps available for download from the official homepage, such as Skype.
xPud is created from Linux so a typical Linux file system is shown in the File tab.
The side bar on the left lets you easily go to different tabs, but reduced the available screen real estate when you play multimedia files and surf the web. xPud is smart that it allow users to maximize the apps. So you can enjoy the easy-to-use kiosk-like interface while not scarifying the visible area when needed.
The Setting tab is standard thing, you change set your preference about sound, display, wigi, etc. Besides, xPud is available in many languages (I only tested English and Chinese and both of them worked) and you can choose the one you like here.
xPud is a system that weights less than 100MB. I could easily fit it in a 128MB SD card. The project owners claimed that boot-up time is less than 10 seconds. I haven’t tried installing it on the hard disk, but booting from a live USB could be completed in an impressive 40 seconds on my eeepc 701 with 1GB ram. Response time is great, probably since the system is a stripped-down version of Linux with only necessary modules. There’s just nothing to complain about the speed of this operating system.
Love & Hate
- Kiosk-style user interface, everyone (including your grandma) should found no difficulty in using it
- Ou-of-the-box support to PDF viewing and multimedia playing, local apps like Skype could be easily installed
- Small size (less than 100MB), can be easily stored in USB thumb drives or SD cards
- The built-in browser is Firefox, not Chrome (I admit this is personal, coz I’m a big fan of Chrome)
- No way to add new web apps in the menu