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IBM taps suite for Linux PDA designs

The company's microelectronics division will include Trolltech's Qtopia--which incorporates an operating environment and application design tools--with a new Linux PDA design kit.

IBM plans to use software from Trolltech to help companies bring Linux to handheld devices.

Big Blue this week licensed the Oslo, Norway, company's Qtopia software suite. The company's microelectronics division will include the software--which incorporates an operating environment and application design tools--with a new Linux PDA design kit due next month.

The design kit will include the blueprints and software necessary to help individuals or companies create several different kinds of personal digital assistants based on the Linux operating system. The kit can also be used by software makers interested in creating applications for the PDAs. It will be available for $1,000 from IBM Microelectronics and a few partners in March, the company has said.

Along with the operating environment and application development tools, the Qtopia software suite includes a number of complete applications, for tasks such as contact and document management and for playing games.

Developers so far have created 600 applications using the software, Trolltech said.

IBM said that its designs will let engineers create a range of PDAs, including inexpensive consumer-oriented models and more-sophisticated business models for accessing important company resources such as e-mail.

IBM also offers software that runs on the Palm operating system and Microsoft's Pocket PC software. It says it has no plans to offer a Linux-based PDA under its own brand name.

Trolltech's Qtopia software is also used in Sharp's Zaurus PDA.

The terms of the IBM deal were not disclosed.