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Acer unveils ‘most competitive’ embedded Linux

OS to ship under Animeta brand and ultimately replace Windows in Acer kit

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Animeta Systems, one of Taiwanese giant Acer's numerous subsidiaries, claims to have whipped up the world's most compact - it only requires 2MB RAM - and most competitive version of Linux for embedded applications. More important, perhaps, is the fact the group plans to use its new OS to oust Windows in many of the company's products, according to its chairman and CEO, Stan Shih, cited in Taiwan's Commercial Times. Most of the discussion at the operating system's debut earlier this week centred on its role in embedded systems, which is clearly what it has been designed for. But if CT's reports are anything to go by, Acer certainly isn't ruling out the OS' use in its PCs. Shih said he expects Linux to replace Windows as the mainstream OS in the future, and that has to be conditional on getting it into desktop PCs as well as appliances - even if appliances come to dominate it IT market. Of course, Shih has an agenda here: he wants Acer to become a kind of 'Intel for the 21st Century', a scheme that underpins almost everything the company does these days. At the same time, Shih wants to minimise Acer's dependence on other companies, most notably Microsoft and Intel, and pursuing a Linux strategy is a clear way of achieving that. It's also a way of combating shrinking margins in the PC biz. And the Animeta name is perhaps no coincidence here. In January, a number of Taiwanese companies, including Acer, are believed to have begun negotiations with Transmeta, primarily to use its Crusoe chips in notebooks. Taiwan produces the vast majority of the world's portable PCs, including most of the kit sold by the big-name brands. An unnamed senior Animeta executive told CT that the company has already entered into partnerships with "many multinational corporations on a technology-transfer basis", and is looking to achieve revenues of $1 million this year and $40 million two years down the line, primarily through selling software development tools and proprietary code that sits on top of Linux to third-parties. ®

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