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Motorola puts more money into embedded Linux

The company comes back for seconds, purchasing $22.5 million in Lineo stock--but Lineo itself won't be seeing that funding.

Motorola has come back for seconds in the embedded Linux market, purchasing $22.5 million in Lineo stock--but Lineo itself won't be seeing that funding.

Motorola, an early investor in Lineo, wanted some more stock, said Lineo chief executive Bryan Sparks. But because Lineo filed its intent to hold an initial public offering and didn't want to sell any shares until then, Motorola had to look elsewhere for the stock.

Consequently, Motorola purchased the 3 million shares of stock from the Canopy Group and other early investors in Lineo, Sparks said. "We just facilitated the sale so they could have the investment they wanted," he said.

However, Lineo did receive $1.5 million from Motorola when the chipmaker purchased warrants to buy 2 million more Lineo shares later for a further $12 million, added Lyle Ball, Lineo's vice president of marketing.

Lineo is one of a handful of companies pushing Linux into embedded devices, computing systems including everything from factory robots to handheld computers and network routers. Competitors include LynuxWorks, MontaVista Software, Applied Data Systems, Coollogic, Red Hat and TimeSys. Venture capitalists and established companies have been showering the start-ups with money.

Sparks declined to say when his company's IPO will happen, but he said the new Motorola deal had to be completed before the company could proceed.

The deeper Motorola investment in Lineo is earmarked for tighter integration of the programming tools from Lineo and from Motorola's Metrowerks subsidiary, Sparks said.

A spate of embedded Linux announcements have been triggered by the Embedded Systems Conference today and tomorrow in San Jose, Calif.:

•  Lineo and Korean electronics giant Samsung will announce a joint venture to help bring embedded Linux products to Korea. Sparks said Lineo holds a controlling interest in the company, which will provide programming services to Samsung and likely to other Korean manufacturers.

•  MontaVista Software has announced that its Hard Hat version of embedded Linux has been ported to a host of NEC chips. The chips, based on the processor design from MIPS, are used in portable and handheld devices, networking equipment and a host of other devices.

• Applied Data Systems has shown its "Bitsy" computer, a 3-by-4 inch machine using Intel's StrongARM chip and designed for companies wanting to enter the handheld computing market. The Bitsy can run several operating systems, including Linux, Microsoft's Windows CE, Microware Systems' OS-9 and Wind River Systems' VxWorks.

• TimeSys will announce improvements to its Linux/RT software to make it work better for network equipment such as routers and gateways. The improvements, which won't be available for other versions of Linux, guarantee that a system using it will be able to meet quality of service standards.

• Korean firm PalmPalm Technology, Opera Software and Trolltech have allied to develop software for embedded Linux used in wireless devices. The systems will come with Opera's Web browser, Trolltech's Qt user interface software, and PalmPalm's version of Linux, called Tynux.

• LynuxWorks has introduced VisualLynux, a $1,999 software package that lets Windows programmers write software for the company's BlueCat version of Linux and other Linux versions.

•  And as reported, Red Hat will unveil a subscription program for products using Red Hat's embedded products. In addition, the company will use its own Ecos operating system, not Linux, for some of its embedded efforts.