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Transmeta ships, renames Mobile Linux

Midori, anyone?

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Transmeta's Linux-on-Crusoe project, Mobile Linux, has been renamed and handed over to the open source world.

Of course, Transmeta was always obliged to release Midori's source code, as per the terms of the GNU Public Licence, which determines how Linux and derived code may be released.

Mobile Linux, announced back in January 2000 when Transmeta officially launched its Crusoe CPU, always looked like the company's attempt to provide would-be chip buyers with the basis to build systems based on its processors.

At the time, Linus Torvalds, Linux creators and Transmeta staffer, said there wouldn't ever be a Transmeta distro, and while the software hasn't been renamed 'Transmeta Linux', it remains trademarked to the hilt.

The new name is Midori, the Japanese word for green, "chosen to reflect the environmentally friendly aspects of an energy efficient Linux operating system", Transmeta said.

We don't know about "energy efficient", but it's certainly space efficient. The compressed kernel weighs in a just 36KB, though applications will increase the storage space required considerably. It compiles on Red Hat and Debian distros - it's actually derived from Debian - and runs on x86 and Crusoe CPUs.

The version is 1.0.0 beta 1, so it's clearly still a work in progress.

But why make such a deal over what after all is just one more embedded version of Linux? Probably because the software has done it's job as a teaser for Transmeta's CPUs - a way of making it easier for device makers to be persuaded to buy Transmeta chips. A year or so on, and the Midori Web site lists only two Midori-based devices that have actually shipped - Gateway's AOL Net appliance and Hitachi's Flora Net access terminal. Certainly most Transmeta-based machines run Windows in the chip's x86-emulation mode.

It seems likely that Transmeta has found that Midori has made relatively little difference in customers' decisions to opt for Crusoe, and with its role as a marketing tool much diminished, it may as well hand the code over to all and sundry. ®

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