Intel's Moblin project -- its own sponsored edition of Linux for Atom-powered devices -- just hit the public alpha stage. The Moblin site invites people to take it for a test drive, and that's precisely what I did.
From the outside, Moblin looks a bit like a version of Fedora running XFCE. It boots in a trice from the .ISO image, installs in less than 10 minutes to a system and is quite stable for an alpha, if far from feature-complete. For the sake of testing, I was able to get it running in a virtual machine using VirtualBox, although I needed to enable the IO APIC and PAE/NX options for the VM.
The actual installed version of Moblin also boots amazingly fast -- mere seconds to get to a desktop. Firefox is included, although the included network drivers seem to be a bit flaky; I was only able to get online from a hardwired connection. The only packages listed in Add/Remove Software are the basics that the system installs with; I guess the rest of the packages will be added to the repository later, once everything else is nailed down.
In short, don't run this on a production system, but give it a whirl in its live-CD incarnation, try it out in a VM, and definitely boot it up on that older box in the closet.
. We've got a management crisis right now, and we've also got an engagement crisis. Could the two be linked? Tune in for the next installment of IT Life Radio, Wednesday May 20th at 3PM ET to find out.