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Europeans tout Linux set-top

NetGem announces a TV set-top computer with a cable modem that runs the Linux operating system.

A European manufacturer has debuted a set-top box that runs on the Linux operating system.

NetGem today announced its NetBox Cable, a computer with a cable modem that comes with the ability to use email or browse the Web. It uses a TV to display a 640-by-480-pixel image, but currently only uses European television standards.

The company will debut its NetBox Cable next week at the National Association of Broadcasters annual convention.

The ordinary NetBox resembles current WebTV products. It comes with an infrared printer port, 33.6-kbps modem, microphone, and remote control. An infrared keyboard is optional. A built-in Schlumberger smart card reader screens out unauthorized users and lets the system remember custom settings for different users.

The NetBox Cable is similar but adds the higher-speed cable modem. It's expected to be available in the fourth quarter of 1999, the company said.

The NetBox uses the company's own Web browser, NetGem. The system can overlay Web information on top of the TV image.

A European manufacturer, Bull Electronics, is building the boxes.