A Walk on the Embedded Side of LinuxWorld

Rick gives his impressions of all things embedded andembeddable at August's mega-Linux event.

REDSonic demonstrated four new products, including: Secure SOHO, a gateway/firewall software solution; Windows-Based Terminal, software that provides thin-client, Linux-based access to Windows applications and services; LinuxBIOS, a ROM-based Linux kernel that replaces legacy BIOS code for secure, fast boot; and a REDSonic PowerPC starter kit for the MPC 823. REDSonic also showcased an interesting customer application: SignSite, manufactured by Clarity Visual Systems. It is a bright, full-color “digital billboard” that is used for advertising and information display in public places. The device contains an embedded Ampro Encore 500 Pentium-based SBC running REDSonic's REDICE-Linux OS. (See www.redsonic.com.)


RidgeRun demonstrated DSPLinux running on TI's digital still camera reference platform based on the TI TMS320DSC21 dual-core (RISC + DSP) system-on-chip processor. That chip, according to Rudy Prince (RidgeRun CEO), is used in several high-end digital cameras from HP and Kodak. Also demonstrated was the DSPLinux development environment's very slick “appliance simulator”. Can we expect to find DSPLinux inside digital cameras sometime soon? “Yes”, replied Prince. Embedded Linux will play a growing role in devices that feature Ethernet, 802.11 or Bluetooth connectivity and other high-end functions, according to Prince. (See www.ridgerun.com.)

The SH/Linux Project

While passing by the Japan Linux Association's booth in the .org area, I noticed some demos of Linux running on two Japan-manufactured game machines: Sony's PlayStation 2 and Sega's Dreamcast—the former, based on Sony's recently released PS2 SDK, and the latter, based on efforts of the Linux-SH Project.


Tuxia demonstrated their TASTE Embedded Linux running on a new set-top box reference platform and also on some very nice looking thin-client systems. They also gave the first LinuxWorld demonstration of their TASTE OS running on an iPAQ PDA. The iPAQ demo included TUXIA's Nanozilla small footprint browser with 802.11 wireless web connectivity. The company issued two key news announcements in conjunction with the show: an agreement with system-on-chip maker Rise to support Rise's SOCs with TASTE Embedded Linux and the selection of TASTE as the Embedded Linux OS for a new consumer media gateway reference platform being developed by Intel. (See www.tuxia.com.)

Transvirtual Technologies

TVT was showing TV set-top box and PDA applications for its new Java/XML/Linux based XOE architecture. (See www.transvirtual.com.)


Trolltech demonstrated a prerelease of version 2 of the Qt Palmtop environment, running on the ubiquitous iPAQ PDA. According to Aron Kozak (Trolltech's PR manager), the environment also works on Sharp's Zaurus PDA. New functions being demonstrated included synchronization, a multiplatform desktop PIM suite, improved add/remove software features, an enhanced GUI design and several new applications including an e-mail client. According to Trolltech's announcement, the full release of version 2 will have features designed to support not just PDAs, but also next-generation “smart phones”. A downloadable beta release is expected in October 2001. Incidentally, Trolltech won LinuxWorld's coveted “Best Embedded Linux Solutions” award for Qt/Embedded at the show. (See www.trolltech.com.)

$99 Linux PDA?

Empower Technologies has announced a $99 PDA that the company claims is a Palm IIIxe clone from the hardware perspective, but runs Empower's Linux DA operating system instead of Palm OS. Here's a summary of specs, according to information on the company's web site:

  • Palm IIIxe-compatible

  • Supplied with Linux DA O/S for PowerPlay III

  • Screen: 240 x 320 pixels, monochrome touchscreen

  • Processor: Motorola Dragonball, 16MHz clock rate

  • 8MB RAM

  • 2MB Flash (upgradeable)

  • Serial port for connection to PC

  • Expansion slot(s): none

  • Battery: nonrechargeable AAA cells

  • Color available: Galaxy Grey

  • 15 days technical support by e-mail

  • Six-month Linux DA O/S software upgrade

  • One-year warranty

  • Includes: carrying case, two AAA batteries, PC Sync Cable, CD with PC Sync

  • Program, Quick-Start Manual, Handwriting Guide, Warranty Card, Registration Card

    (See www.empowertechnologies.com.)

    Rick Lehrbaum (rick@linuxdevices.com) created the LinuxDevices.com “embedded Linux portal”. Rick has worked in the field of embedded systems since 1979. He cofounded Ampro Computers, founded the PC/104 Consortium and was instrumental in creating and launching the Embedded Linux Consortium.