Moblin 2.0 beta hits the web

As Microsoft scrambles to get Windows 7 out the door in time for the holiday season, Intel is also working hard on an operating system of its own: Moblin 2.0, a user-friendly, Linux-based OS aimed squarely at Atom netbooks. Intel has now unleashed a public beta version of the software, and the chipmaker is inviting netbook users to give it a whirl.

Intel goes over Moblin 2.0's key features in this press release, but a promotional video of the operating system in action ought to give you a much clearer impression:

In short, Moblin is shaping up to be a fancier, better-looking, and more polished successor to the stripped-down Linux distributions that appeared in the very first netbooks. Apparently, Intel has even implemented a physics engine and OpenGL acceleration to make the user interface look prettier and more dynamic.

You can "test drive" the Moblin 2.0 beta by downloading the 680MB installation image over on this page and loading it up onto a USB drive. (Instructions are up here.) Intel says it has tested the image on the Acer Aspire One, Asus Eee PC 901 and 1000H, Dell Mini 9, MSI Wind, Lenovo S10, Samsung NC10, and HP Mini 1010 and 1120NR (the 1120NR supports "wired networking only for now," though).

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