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Wide Open News Embedded Linux looking lively

...and proprietary

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Embedded Linux software developer Lineo turned heads Monday when it announced it had received $37 million in funding. Lineo spokeswoman Jennifer Finnlinson says the money will be spent to fuel growth. The company has expanded from 17 employees in September 1999 to 160 this May, thanks to six recent acquisitions. Utah-based Lineo follows competitor Lynx Real-Time Systems in snagging a hefty chunk of change. Interest in embedded Linux is gaining ground as devices -- everything from handheld computers to door locks -- get more complex. Advanced hardware requires advanced software, and Linux is a popular platform to go between thanks to its reliability, scalability, and ability to squeeze into small spaces. It's likely that embedded Linux will continue to gain momentum as key hindrances -- such as the inability to execute real-time commands -- are being solved elegantly. But open sourcers beware: in the still-green embedded scene, Linux does not necessarily mean open source. OnCore Systems' software foundation, which allows a standard version of Linux to run real-time commands, is proprietary. In fact, most of the embedded software development environments are proprietary. Metrowerks, for example, retails its embedded development environment for most platforms for $2500, with a Linux version expected soon. It recently, however, stepped conspicuously into a founding role with the Embedded Linux Consortium. Microsoft is also strengthening its embedded options, rolling embedded versions of Windows CE, Windows NT, and the forthcoming Whistler into one business unit. The move underscores the importance of embedded operating systems, as Microsoft is well known for taking notice of the competition. Of course, Linux can be customised for devices through the alteration of the open source code, which is how smaller firms such as Wind River and Lynx approach the challenges of porting the operating system to a wide variety of chips. MontaVista's revised Linux scheduler, which is a similar concept to OnCore's microkernel, is also open source. Wide Open News is a partner of The Register. Check it out.

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