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Motorola unwraps Linux strategy

Computer Group to tackle embedded, small LAN server markets

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Motorola will later today announce a new strategy centred on Linux and with the backing of Linux distributor Caldera Systems and sister company, Lineo, as predicted here. That said, the programme isn't quite as far reaching as some observers had hoped. Motorola Computer Group (MCG) will announce two Linux-based server systems, both aimed at its OEM customers. Moves to increase the availability of Linux on the PowerPC platform are not part of the deal, nor does it tie Lineo's embedded version of Linux, dubbed Embeddix, into any of Motorola's other processor families. Instead, MCG will offer the SLX family "network appliances", essentially Net access servers for small-business LANs along the lines of products already offered by US-based TeamInternet and, in the UK, Inty. MCG's plan is to sell the box to telecoms OEMs, who can then sell them on as part of an overall Net connectivity package. The SLX-2010 is based on a 333MHz Celeron CPU; the SLX-2020 on a 450MHz Pentium III, and the rest of the spec. -- 10/100 Ethernet, two "I/O ports" (serial and parallel, presumably), floppy drive, CD-ROM drive and 6.8GB hard disk -- reveals that these are just standard PCs squeezed into rack-mount cases. Interestingly, MCG said both SLX boxes may be ordered with Caldera's OpenLinux installed. That suggests the choice of OS is being left to the customer, which is hardly a ringing endorsement for Caldera on MCG's part. The other part of the MCG/Linux announcement is its line of emS x86-based "embedded" servers, and this time its Cobalt that MCG appears to be gunning for, selling the boxes to ISPs, medium-sized businesses and the like. The emS family consists of rack-mounted server modules based on either 450MHz or 500MHz Pentium III processors and ATX form-factor motherboards, which provide all the usual desktop PC components: irDA, USB, serial and parallel ports; 10/100 Ethernet; three PCI slot, one shared PCI/ISA slot and one ISA slot; 32x CD-ROM; 4MB AGP graphics card; 9GB SCSI hard drive; and an UltraWide SCSI port. Most server applications won't need half of this stuff, but we guess MCG feels it just has to throw them in anyway. Again, the systems will be powered by Caldera's OpenLinux, and the good news for Motorola's other subsidiaries is that MCG is planning to offer "PowerPC Compact PCI products, Passive PCI products, PowerPC motherboard products and PowerPC VME products" -- so at least Moto's own chips aren't being entirely left out in the cold. MCG's support for Lineo's Embeddix will emerge more clearly as the company extends the emS line into real embedded server markets beyond the Net server arena targeted by the initial models. MCG will provide OEMs with Lineo's Embeddix SDK. ®

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