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WindRiver buys BSD

Bezerkley Unix heads for server appliances, storage

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The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

Embedded OS developer WindRiver has acquired the software assets of BSDi, which distributes the server BSD/OS. Jordan Hubbard, leader of the FreeBSD project, joins WindRiver as principle technologist.

WindRiver co-founder Jerry Fiddler described BSD technology as 'wonderful and unparalleled', and with a sideswipe at the GNU General Public License, lauded it for being 'business friendly'. The new owners will continue to encourage the FreeBSD project, said Fiddler.

The new owners cited the use of BSD by Nokia, Ericsson and Telia in networking equipment, but a presentation pitched the new acquisition at the high end of its portfolio, which strongly suggests a role in server appliances and storage appliances. "The line between embedded appliances and servers is blurring," said Fiddler.

50 non-technical staff of BSDi will lose their jobs.

The Berkeley branch of the Unix tree added significant elements to the OS in the late 1970s and early 1980s such as networking, at a time when Unix trade mark owner AT&T began to view the OS as a revenue stream. BSD formed the basis for many of the first commercially-adopted Unices included SunOS and DEC's Ultrix.

The source sharing momentum behind BSD stalled briefly in the early 1990s after legal threats from the Unix trademark's then owner Novell, and the kernel fragmented into three significant but complementary development projects, of which FreeBSD is one.

WindRiver also acquired the Virtuoso DSP OS from Eonic.

With the air thick with phrases such as 'highly leveraged value chain', there was little word of the future of Slackware, the pioneering GPL Linux distro which retains a loyal following amongst developers. BSDi acted as the shopfront for Slackware. ®

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