It’s been possible to run Linux or Android on ARM based board and producs for a while, with some firmware providing dual boot support, or even simultaneous use running a chroot with a VNC server and client combination. Some developers have come up MicroXwin, a X-windows implementation using a custom Xlib library that communicate directly with the graphics drivers, and not using a client/server implement. This provides much faster performance compare to X11, as shown on Raspberry Pi and Cubieboard2 development boards, and it has given them the ability to run Debian LXDE and Android Jelly Bean simultaneously on their upcoming VolksPC, a mini PC based on Rockchip RK3066 with 16GB flash.
The first VolksPC will have the following specifications:
- SoC – Rockchip RK3066 dual core ARM Cortex A9 CPU @ 1.4Ghz with Mali-400MP4 GPU
- System Memory – 1 GB DDR3
- Storage – 16 GB NAND flash + SD/MMC/MS card reader (Up to 32GB)
- Video Output – HDMI 1.3 and VGA
- Connectivity – 10/100 Ethernet port, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi
- USB – 4x USB 2.0 host ports
The hardware is pretty standard, except for the 16GB flash as you need enough space to run the two operating systems from flash with some extra space for user’s data. As you’ll see from the video below, the system is very smooth both in Android and Debian, and the same file system is shared between the two operating systems. For example, provided the video has not been edited, LibreOffice is shown to start in less than 10 seconds, and they also showed a YouTube video playing in Debian, albeit not in full screen. Since both operating systems are running at the same time, switching between the two are instantaneous. You can kill Android, and still run Debian, or you can logout of Debian, and still run Android if you need to some free RAM. The demo is apparently running on MK808.
VolksPC mini PC is not available right now, and it’s unclear when it will be released. The unified distribution shown in the video above can not be downloaded either, and MicroXWin does not seem to be open source, or least not yet, so it’s not something you can currently use or port to your device. Nevertheless, it’s probably something to keep an eye on, and you can do so on VolksPC.org.