IBM to support Linux in set-top box controllers

IBM's microelectronics division said Wednesday it is working with MontaVista Software Inc. to make MontaVista's Hard Hat Linux operating system available for IBM's PowerPC-based set-top box (STB) controller. The deal follows IBM's recent embrace of the Linux operating system, and continues Linux's steady expansion into the consumer realm.

Television set-top boxes are part of the "pervasive computing" wave which is extending robust computing capabilities beyond the traditional desktop PC. French interactive TV software developer Netgem SA said it plans to develop products tailored to IBM STB controllers running Hard Hat Linux. Netgem's flagship Netgem 4.0 system supports a range of interactive applications, including electronic program guides, multimedia mail, Internet access, and voice- and audio-on-demand features.

Executives from MontaVista and Netgem highlighted the cost savings manufactures and consumers will realize from Linux utilization in STBs.

IBM also said Wednesday that it is currently shipping engineering samples of its third-generation STB controller. The new controller will feature faster processor speeds than its predecessor, and is intended to support advanced features such as video recording, Internet gaming and Web browsing, and secure online transactions. General sample availability of the third-generation controller is scheduled for June, with an official release slated for the second half of 2001.

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