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CNN.com: Linux lends a hand to Sun engineers

Jul 18, 2001, 18:50 (9 Talkback[s])

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Linux forms the foundation of a handheld designed and produced by Sun. It will be used by field engineers, includes wireless communications, and utilizes a Java VM. No WinCE, the article mentions, for ideological and performance reasons.

"...Going with Linux was a "gut-wrenching" decision for Greg Richards, senior manager of Sun's global operations unit, who says his main concern was that Sun field engineers embraced the handheld systems. "The last thing I wanted to do was to be a pioneer," he says.

The new device needed a reliable, full-blown operating system to cache lots of data locally and run big applications at the same time, along with a Java Virtual Machine (JVM), a Web browser and personal information management applications. But, equally important, the final combination of hardware and software had to be such that the 3,500 field engineers could put it to work quickly and easily.

In the end, Sun worked closely with a team of vendors to create a rugged, PDA-sized handheld, packed with memory, running a compact version of Linux and a suite of applications ported to it. The initial test group of 50 engineers has taken readily to the handheld, called the Field Information Appliance."

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