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Digital music company sings a new tune: Linux

MusicMatch, which makes programs for creating and organizing digital music, has released a beta version of its Jukebox software for the open-source operating system.

MusicMatch, which makes programs for creating and organizing digital music, released on Tuesday a beta version of its Jukebox software for Linux.

San Diego, Calif.-based MusicMatch already had versions of Jukebox for computers running Windows and Macintosh operating systems. The beta, or test, version for the Linux open-source operating system can be downloaded from MusicMatch's Web site.

The most popular use for Linux is on servers. But it is gradually gaining popularity as a desktop operating system as its user interfaces become simpler and more software becomes available. Other software, such as the RealNetworks player, already exists for creating and playing digital music MP3 files on Linux-based machines, but MusicMatch said it's the first to offer an all-in-one Linux package for creating, organizing and playing digital music.

Although the move allows MusicMatch to expand its distribution of digital content, the company still faces competition.

"What (the announcement) means is that there will be more Linux-based products moving forward that will have the ability to utilize digital music," Gartner analyst P.J. McNealy said. But "we're early enough in the Linux era that any other competitors can likely catch up."

MusicMatch's version uses Wine software to run, which means only Linux computers using Intel or Intel-compatible CPUs will be able to run the software. Wine software lets some software written for Microsoft's Windows operating system run on Linux machines. Linux runs on just about any type of computer, including those using Alpha or Power PC chips, but Intel computers are the most popular foundation for Linux.

To help bring Jukebox to Linux, MusicMatch relied on CodeWeavers, a software development company that offers Wine-based services to companies that want to bring Windows software to Linux. In August, Linux Global Partners and others funded CodeWeavers with $1.8 million in venture financing.

MusicMatch software comes in a free version or a $19.99 version with more features. The software creates MP3 files using the Fraunhofer encoding technology.

News.com's Gwendolyn Mariano contributed to this report.