Neoware debuts thin version of Linux

Thin-client maker Neoware Systems jumped into the Linux swirl last week with a thin version of Linux - and a hardware box to back it up - designed for everything from cash registers to security appliances.

NeoLinux, Neoware's thin version of Red Hat's Linux, is aimed at thin clients and can also be used for specific application boxes such as corporate security card readers, cash registers and firewall devices.

In conjunction with its release of NeoLinux, Neoware debuted a thin client dubbed Eon, or "The Anything Box," that can be configured with additional third-party software and add-in hardware for wireless applications, thin-client applications or point-of-sale applications. NeoLinux sells for $50 per client, while a complete Eon thin client loaded with NeoLinux sells for about $499.

What makes NeoLinux valuable is the ability to save on licensing fees when compared with Windows, and the customisability that comes with being an open source operating system.

Users can also implement Eon and use Neoware's ezManage software, which lets Eon be remotely configured and updated.

"It's a very clever thing to do that opens up a lot of markets for them," says IDC analyst Dan Kusnetzky. "NeoLinux will be very flexible, and a lot of people who may not have been able to do a custom system could do so using this."

Kusnetzky says NeoLinux could be used in conjunction with any thin-client device to connect to a Linux server running applications, or with other servers such as a Windows NT server using Citrix's MetaFrame and the Independent Computing Architecture (ICA) protocol along with Windows Terminal Server.

Security Applications, intends to use NeoLinux - and Eon - to put together turnkey systems for clients with multiple security devices such as card readers and surveillance cameras, says Dave Swartz, Neoware's vice president. The firm's software can be put on a single Eon to control multiple devices for less than it would cost using a PC or workstation.

Neoware's NeoLinux operating system includes the ability to run local Linux applications while providing access to Windows 2000 and NT servers across a network via the Citrix ICA protocol, which lets users access applications for the Windows platform. A Netscape Navigator Web browser and Java Virtual Machine are provided for Internet environments.

Eon has an integrated National Semiconductor Geode processor, 10/100Base-T Ethernet, two serial ports, a parallel port, two universal serial bus ports, audio and up to 288M bytes of flash memory.

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