Mainline Linux Kernel Support Coming to Cheap Retro Gaming Handhelds

Powkiddy X55

The Powkiddy X55, a budget-friendly retro gaming handheld, is set to receive mainline Linux kernel support, promising potential enhancements to its functionality and performance. While the device currently ships with a customized Linux distribution, ongoing development suggests a shift towards broader compatibility with mainstream Linux kernels, a positive sign for tech enthusiasts and retro gaming fans.

As reported by Phoronix, the Powkiddy X55 is following in the footsteps of several Anbernic equivalents, which already boast support for mainline Linux kernels. This development could mark a significant step forward for cheap retro gaming handhelds, opening doors to a wider range of Linux distributions and the associated benefits they bring.

Currently retailing at $114.99 on Amazon with a $20 coupon or available directly from Powkiddy for US$89, the Powkiddy X55 has garnered attention not only for its affordability but also for the potential improvements that mainline Linux kernel support could bring to the device.

Technical Specifications

  • CPU: Rockchip RK3566 with four ARM Cortex-A55 CPU cores clocked at 1.8 GHz
  • GPU: Mali-G52
  • Battery: 4,000 mAh
  • Display: 5.5-inch IPS display

The Powkiddy X55 is powered by the Rockchip RK3566 system-on-a-chip (SoC), featuring a quad-core ARM Cortex-A55 CPU running at 1.8 GHz and a Mali-G52 GPU. Notably, this chipset is shared with other Powkiddy devices such as the RGB30 and RK2023. The X55 stands out among its peers with 2 GB of LPDDR4X RAM, a 4,000 mAh battery, and a 5.5-inch IPS display, making it a compelling choice for retro gaming enthusiasts.

Linux Kernel Support

Unlike its default custom Linux distribution, the Powkiddy X55 is undergoing active development to support the mainline Linux kernel. This move is expected to bring about quicker bug fixes and performance improvements compared to traditional manufacturer updates. This development aligns with the broader trend observed in the tech industry, emphasizing the importance of open-source software and community-driven contributions.

Tom's Hardware highlights that transitioning the X55 to Linux's mainline kernel could set a precedent for other retro gaming handhelds. The Anbernic RGxx3 series, including models like the RG353P and RG353M, has already demonstrated successful integration with mainline Linux, showcasing the potential for a more unified and versatile ecosystem within the retro gaming community.

Implications and Benefits

The impending mainline Linux kernel support for the Powkiddy X55 holds several implications for users and the retro gaming handheld market as a whole. Here are some key considerations:

  • Bug Fixes and Improvements: Mainline Linux kernel support implies faster bug fixes and regular performance improvements, ensuring a more stable and optimized user experience.
  • Compatibility: The shift to mainline Linux opens doors to a wider range of Linux distributions, providing users with greater flexibility and customization options for their devices.
  • Community Collaboration: Embracing mainline Linux reflects a commitment to community-driven development, encouraging collaboration and contributions from the open-source community.
  • Potential for Other Handhelds: The success of the Powkiddy X55 on the mainline Linux kernel may inspire other manufacturers to follow suit, creating a positive ripple effect within the retro gaming handheld market.


The prospect of mainline Linux kernel support coming to the Powkiddy X55 signals a positive shift in the landscape of affordable retro gaming handhelds. This development not only enhances the user experience for current X55 owners but also sets a precedent for potential improvements in other devices within the same category.

As the tech community eagerly awaits the integration of mainline Linux support, the Powkiddy X55 stands out as a promising choice for retro gaming enthusiasts looking for both affordability and future-proofing. The move towards open-source compatibility aligns with the industry's broader push for collaborative development and user empowerment.

For those interested in exploring the potential of the Powkiddy X55 with mainline Linux support, keeping an eye on future updates and community-driven enhancements will likely unlock new possibilities and features, solidifying its position as a noteworthy player in the competitive retro gaming handheld market.

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