"I wrote about server appliances last week, and observed in
passing that Rebel.com and Cobalt, both purveyors of Linux-based
boxes, had switched from embedded RISC processors to x86-compatible
chips in their most recent generation products. This gave me pause,
since the x86 instruction set, first introduced with Intel's 8086
and still alive and well in the Pentium IV, has long been decried
by the cognoscenti as mostly dead."
"But according to Michael Whitehead, Rebel.com's vice president
of research and development, the decision to move the newest
generation NetWinder to a Transmeta Crusoe processor made sense for
two particular reasons. While the Crusoe has impressive low-power
characteristics, its x86 compatibility was the clincher. Linux
application availability is highest for Linux-on-x86, and
Rebel.com's customers conveyed this. In talking with Cobalt product
marketing manager Pierre Reynes, the same story came out."
"Like anyone who's paying a modicum of attention, I know that
Linux compiles readily on many different processor architectures
and hardware configurations. But that doesn't make the slightest
bit of difference if application vendors making non-open-source
software for Linux decide that Linux-on-x86 is the only "real"
Linux. This is a vexing problem, since one of the great hopes
of Linux's portability was that it would level the playing field
for the many non-x86 processors out there. Instead, the playing
field has stayed roughly the same, but new playing fields in the
embedded space have been created where Linux-NOT-on-x86 has
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