A mini PC is basically a tiny computers that fits in the palm of your hand and can be used by anyone. Small computers are not new as embedded devices and development boards are well established in the IT and electronics industries. However consumer targeted devices only really emerged with plug computers like the Shivaplug. The revolution or perhaps race began with the advent of the Android PC ‘stick’ (Rikomagic MK802) which was released around the same time as the first ‘inexpensive’ development board targeting hobbyists (Raspberry Pi Model B). The subtle distinction being the Android device was a fully functional end-user device and truly plug-n-play compared to the small and very cheap development board whose objective was to build a support community. Because of the size and capabilities of these devices the term ‘mini PC’ was coined.
Since then Android sticks have had additional ports added to them to create Android boxes and now new devices support additional operating systems including Windows, Linux and Chrome OS. However right from the early days the lack of basic information including guides and tutorials together with working software suitable for the beginner or non-technical user was a hindrance to fully exploiting the potential of these devices. Whatever information existed was disparate and scattered across forums, blogs and websites. Equally the potential to use these small and highly mobile devices as Linux mini PCs was hindered by the lack of GPL compliance and unwillingness by manufacturers to embrace Linux as a supported OS.
But now the rest is history. When I bought the original Android stick I had a vision: running a fully functional latest Ubuntu OS on a commercially available and supported mini PC. Several years later and arguably this has now been achieved. But I was also on a mission: to increase and improve knowledge; to make software freely available including the Linux kernel; to develop, support and enhance Linux (especially Ubuntu) on these physically small consumer mini PC devices.