November 1, 2000 12:00 PM PST

Linux advances on several fronts

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Linux is continuing its spread from the scrawniest to the burliest computing devices, with new products emerging this week for low-power chips all the way up to mainframes.

On the small side, Lineo, a company specializing in Linux products for non-PC "embedded" devices such as handheld computers, has released its Embedix version of Linux for IDT's RC32334 chip. The processor is used in low-cost communications devices such as Internet appliances or the boxes that connect home computers to high-speed, or "broadband," networks.

Also in embedded computing, LynuxWorks will announce Monday the release of its SpyKer event-tracking software, a programming tool that monitors low-level operation of LynuxWorks' BlueCat Linux or other Linux versions as well as LynuxWorks' proprietary LynxOS. SpyKer will cost $999 and will be available for Linux versions at the end of November.

And on the high end, German Linux company SuSE has released a version for IBM's S/390 mainframes, now known as its eServer zSeries machines. SuSE, Turbolinux and Red Hat each will sell software for all of IBM's four major server lines, the companies have said.

IBM has been actively supporting efforts to bring Linux to its mainframe computers, powerful servers with a loyal following among business users but a declining market share compared to cheaper Unix server designs.

LynuxWorks, Lineo and a host of other embedded Linux companies are working to make sure Linux works well on as many processors as possible. One of the advantages of Linux is it's designed to run on a multitude of chips.

With the addition of IDT's chips, which are based on a design from embedded chip company MIPS, Lineo's Linux products now run on 20 different embedded CPUs. These include Arm's Arm 7 and 9 chips; Hitachi's SH3 and SH4 chips; Intel's StrongArm 1100 and 1110 chips; Motorola's Coldfire, Dragonball, Mcore and PowerPC chips; and a variety of Intel-compatible chips, including the 386, the 486SX and DX, and Pentium.


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