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VNU Net: Industry aligns for embedded Linux development

By Lisa Kelly, VNU Net

An industry alliance has been established to promote the use of
Linux in embedded applications.

Some 50 companies including IBM, Motorola and Red Hat are
backing the Embedded Linux Consortium (ELC), announced at the
System Builder Summit in California this week.

ELC aims to advance Linux-based technology in embedded
applications such as internet appliances, unattended systems,
wireless access, home networks and set top boxes.

Chairman Rick Lehrbaum said: “Linux is now the fastest
growing operating system for server applications. The embedded
computer market, which absorbs more than 95 per cent of all
microcomputer chips minted each year, is the next
frontier.

Linus Torvalds, creator of Linux, said that the consortium is
“an expression of the current explosion of interest in using Linux
in thousands of specialised embedded, mobile, and appliance
applications.”

The lower speed Crusoe chip, the TM5400 – a 700Mhz chip – is
optimised for Linux which Torvalds claims should be aimed for
growth in the non-PC applicance market.

Analysts were divided in their endorsement of the consortium.
Paul Zorfass, senior analyst with IDC, said: “Linux is beginning to
establish a presence in the diverse embedded market where its
reliability, modularity, scalability and low cost are extremely
attractive.”

“The ELC comes at just the right moment to aid the emerging
trend of using Linux as the operating system within a wide range of
intelligent appliances and embedded systems,” he added.

Ashim Pal, Meta Group analyst, said that the use of embedded web
servers would grow, as they are included in products such as
set-top boxes and Wap phones to store content. He said a cheaper
alternative to Microsoft tools would be welcomed.

The open nature of Linux means it can be developed for specific
functions, such as embedded systems, rather than all-encompassing
Windows systems, he added.

“NT is perceived as unstable because it is designed to do
multiple things. If you have access to the code, as with Linux, the
operating system can be developed for a single use. That’s why a
mobile phone never crashes.”