Embedded Linux will run Windows CE apps next year

Utah-based Lineo yesterday shipped an embedded version of Linux called Embedix. With an additional software layer, Embedix PDA, due in the first quarter of next year, the operating system will be able to run Windows CE applications, the company said.

Embedix 1.0 will initially run on Intel x86 and PowerPC processors. It requires a minimum of 8MB of RAM and 3MB of read-only memory or flash memory. Californian company Bast will use Embedix in set-top boxes designed for hotels and apartment complexes.

Though based on a modified version of the Linux 2.2 kernel, Embedix contains proprietary components and will not be free. Manufacturers will pay a royalty per unit shipped.

Embedix PDA, a layer on top of Embedix, will allow applications written for Microsoft's Windows CE operating system to run on Linux-based devices after a recompile, according to Lineo.

Lineo is a subsidiary of Caldera, which recently won an undisclosed sum in a settlement of its antitrust complaint against Microsoft.

Linceo's embedded Linux is "clever software that happens to fit right into the place where we expect Linux to have the brightest future", said Dan Kusnetzky, an analyst at IDC. The ability to run Windows CE applications "could give people a greater comfort level", said Kusnetzky. But he added that the embedded market is filled with established -- not Linux-based -- offerings.

Other Linux vendors are also crowding into this space. Last week, Californian-based Transmeta said it was developing a lightweight Linux version called Mobile Linux. And Red Hat recently acquired Cygnus Solutions, which develops embedded and realtime software, among other things.

Several other embedded operating systems based on Linux are in the works, and an embedded Linux consortium will have its founding meeting on March 1 in Chicago.

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