Ericsson and Red Hat have announced an initiative to develop
consumer products and services based on the Linux operating
The companies will develop home communications products using
Embedded Red Hat Linux and Java. The products will support
broadband network and the evolving Bluetooth standard, which lets
wireless devices communicate over short distances using low-power
radio signals to transmit data.
The first fruits of the development will be Ericsson's cordless
screen phone, which will be commercially available towards the end
of the year.
Jan Ahrenbring, vice president of marketing and communications
at Ericsson Mobile Communications, said the device would mark the
first time Linux has been put on a telephone.
"We looked at Windows CE but chose Linux because it is very
competitive and cheap software for consumers, and they can upgrade
when they wish," said Ahrenbring.
Colin Tenwick, Red Hat's European general manager, explained
that the software could be dynamically upgraded through a user's
"Our joint development with Ericsson is a major endorsement of
open source technology and will have significant benefits for end
users," he said, adding that Red Hat expects deals with other
device manufacturers to follow.
"We've been putting the building blocks in place for post-PC
devices. Via our acquisition of Cygnus and WireSpeed we have
acquired technology needed for embedded Linux solutions. The
functionality of embedded Linux will be different, and it will have
a smaller footprint, but we're working to make the tool chain the
same," said Tenwick.
As part of the initiative, Ericsson will work with Red Hat to
establish open technologies - such as the latest Embedded Red Hat
GNU development tools - that will be made freely available to
developers through redhat.com. The companies hope to see the
development of everything from business-class applications to
Jon Collins, technical director at independent analyst Sundial
Consultancy, welcomed this and said the availability of better
modelling and configuration management tools for Linux was needed
for the initiative to take off.
"It's difficult to make the same application run on a handheld
and a mainframe, so you need these kind of facilities to make it
useful," he said.
Researcher IDC predicts that by 2002, there will be more than 55
million handheld and notebook-style information appliance devices
worldwide and that by 2005, shipments of these appliances will
exceed those of PCs.
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