"Here's the deal. Altera, the world's second-best-known FPGA
company, has struck a deal with Wind River Systems, the world's
second-best-known embedded-software company, to port Linux to
Altera's NIOS II processor. And since NIOS is free, you've got
yourself a free 32-bit microprocessor capable of running a genuine
full-on multitasking Linux operating system.
"Naturally, there's a catch. In fact, there are two. First off,
NIOS is free only if you're already using Altera's FPGA (define) chips (more
on this later). Second, the Linux itself isn't free; Wind River
charges a significant amount of money for access to the software,
and even more money for annual support.
"That's right -- the microprocessor is free but the open-source
software costs money. One wonders how such a paradox came to
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