Snap into embedded Linux

You may be sick of the term "embedded" if you're one of those people who watched too much CNN over the past month and a half. But if you're an appliance systems developer, or a user interested in Linux-based storage, SnapGear's embedded Linux distribution may be of interest.

SnapGear, a Brisbane-based maker of network-attached storage (NAS), VPN and firewall appliances, recently released a free version of what it calls a "commercial-grade" embedded Linux distro. The software is meant to run as an operating system for network appliance boxes based on such embedded chip architectures as Motorola ColdFire, Intel ARM-based XScale processors, as well as LEON SPARC chips.

SnapGear has used Linux as a building block in its appliances in the past, but this is the first full-featured Linux distribution from the company, along with software tools for developing applications for the platform.

The distribution is based on the uClinux project, which is a port of Linux to systems without a memory management unit (MMU) such as mobile phones, PDA operating systems or industrial applications, including airbag management systems in cars. Unlike uClinux, which is targeted just at embedded chips, SnapGear says its Linux version will run on MMU-less processors and other platforms, such as Intel x86.

SnapGear's Linux will compete with embedded Linux distributions from Monta Vista, with its Monta Vista (formerly Hard Hat) Linux, and Red Hat's eCos embedded operating system.

More information can be found at http://www.snapgear.org

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