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litl webbook
Developerlitl LLC
ManufacturerFirst International Computer
Release dateNovember 9, 2009
Introductory price$699
Operating systemlitl OS
CPU1.86 GHz Atom Z540

The litl webbook is a webbook developed, marketed, and sold by litl LLC. It features the ability to stand upright in an inverted-V position (referred to as "easel mode") and a cloud-based operating system called litl OS. It has been described as the "world's first" true cloud-based netbook.[1]


Litl's CEO John Chuang, also co-founder of Aquent, has said that the origins of the litl webbook lay in his observation that while his family was increasingly using web applications, their home computer was based on pre-web thinking: “I have kids from 5 to 13 years old. My 13-year-old has never installed software in her life. Everything she uses is a Web app. Yet she’s using a technology that was completely not designed for that. I thought that was a mismatch.[2]

“We knew that to really meet the needs of home users – from kids to parents and grandparents – we needed to design an entirely new system that would make the web engaging, entertaining and fun.[3]"

Engineering partners[edit]

The industrial design of the litl webbook was by Fuseproject with engineering design by MOTO Development Group.[4] The device is manufactured by FIC.[5]

Operating system[edit]

Litl OS is the cloud-oriented operating environment of the litl webbook.

User interface philosophy[edit]

The litl OS interface removes a number of conventional elements of general purpose desktop environments. "Litl eliminates menus, icons, and folders. In fact, we've removed all computer administrative debris between you and the web".[6] Litl state that a set of principles were developed to guide the design of the interface, including: "We used a simple rule: Any computer task that had the word "management" next to it had to be eliminated. File management. Gone. Windows management. Gone.".[7]

User interface structure[edit]

Litl OS's user interface utilizes graphic elements called "cards" to organize browsing sessions and content instead of the tabs and menus found on conventional desktops:

The GUI is based on a series of “cards,” each card functioning like a tab in an open browser window. In the laptop configuration, these cards can appear arranged on the screen like thumbnails, or opened up one at a time in full screen; in the easel/broadcast configuration, the cards appear as a stack and can be selected or “tuned in” ...[8]

Flicking through cards in Easel mode (when the screen is flipped back on itself causing the webbook to be in an A-frame position) is done using a blue-colored click-wheel (called the "litl wheel") on the litl webbook or remote control.[9]

The card concept, easel mode and general usage of the interface are demonstrated in litl's videos.[10][11][12]

The interfaces to some web content are also customized by litl or third parties to integrate with Litl OS and are referred to as litl channels. (Litl OS's optional display method for RSS feeds is also referred to as a "litl channel"). Customizations and settings are minimal in keeping with the design goals of simplicity and ease of use.


User interface concepts were first mapped out by Pentagram working closely with litl.[8] Personas and detailed interaction design were by Cooper Consulting in consultation with litl's internal design team.[13][14] Fort Franklin also contributed to some design elements.[13]

Software details[edit]

The underlying operating system is a mobile/embedded distribution of Ubuntu provided by Canonical. The user interface is written largely in Mozilla's dialect of Javascript using the gjs binding to access GNOME and Clutter UI elements.[15] Litl automatically performs nightly software updates, and the OS stores browser cards, web channels, settings, and contacts online at Amazon S3 using a web service running on Google's App Engine and the Django framework. Litl OS can synchronize information from the Internet to the webbook and between webbooks.[16] Free and Open source components of the operating system's source code can be obtained on DVD from Litl.[17][18]


Model Nov 2009 [19]
Release date
November 4, 2009
Model name
litl webbook
litl OS
Display Matte 12.1 inch AFFS LCD WXGA display (1280x800) with LED backlighting and a 178° field of view [4]
Front side bus 533 MHz
Processor 1.86 GHz Intel AtomTM Z540 Processor (512KB L2 Cache)
Memory 1GB 533 MHz DDR2 SDRAM
Graphics Intel Integrated Graphics Media Accelerator 500
Chipset Intel US15W
Storage Local: Compact Flash 2 GB SLC local cache
Internet: main storage is provided on the web by Amazon S3 accessed via a custom web service running on Google's App Engine with the Django framework.[20]
Ports HDMI (Type A)
USB 2.0 (1)
Audio jack (1 line out)
AC adapter connector
Battery 3 cell 28WHr Lithium Ion Battery
Camera Built in 300kP, 640x480 VGA webcam
Microphone Built in
Wireless 802.11 b/g PIFA/Gain: 0.67 dBi
2 Internal IR receivers compatible with litl remote
AC 120-240 V AC; DC 20 V @ 2 A
Weight 3.38 lb (1.53 kg)
Dimensions 1.06 in × 12.6 in × 9.25 in (27 mm × 320 mm × 235 mm)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Litl Webbook Beats ChromeOS, Becomes First Cloud Computer". 16 November 2009.
  2. ^ "Xconomy: The Litl Computer That Could? Boston Startup Tries a New Take on the Home Internet Appliance - Page 2 of 4". 4 November 2009.
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-12-19. Retrieved 2010-01-05.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ a b Tom Misage, Moto (2009-11-06). Engineering behind the litl webbook. Event occurs at 40s. Retrieved 2009-11-10.
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-04-19. Retrieved 2010-10-26.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-10-27. Retrieved 2010-10-26.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^ a b "New Work: Litl". Pentagram. 2009-11-05. Archived from the original on 2010-05-26. Retrieved 2010-05-20.
  9. ^ Jackie Noblett (2009-11-04). "Startup Litl launches Internet-enabled computer". MASS High Tech: The Journal of New England Technology. Archived from the original on 2010-03-12. Retrieved 2010-05-20.
  10. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-11-25. Retrieved 2010-10-26.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  11. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-11-25. Retrieved 2010-10-26.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  12. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-01-26. Retrieved 2010-10-26.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  13. ^ a b "Cooper Journal: congratulations to litl". Archived from the original on 2009-11-10.
  14. ^ Havoc Pennington, Litl developer (2009-11-16). "Blog entries for November, 2009". Retrieved 2009-12-15.
  15. ^ Lucas Rocha, Litl developer (2009-11-04). "litl webbook: some technical comments". Retrieved 2009-11-09.
  16. ^ C. Scott Ananian, Litl developer (2009-11-04). "litl's technical secrets revealed!". Archived from the original on 2011-07-26. Retrieved 2009-11-10.
  17. ^ litl Software End User Licensing Agreement. United States Federal Communications Commission. 2009-10-28. Retrieved 2009-11-09.
  18. ^ FCC filing
  19. ^ Litl OS

External links[edit]