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Intel aims to simplify Linux for Net devices

The chipmaker plans to release later this summer software that could drastically simplify the use of Linux-based Web appliances and home-networking gear.

Intel plans to release later this summer software that could drastically simplify the use of Linux-based Web appliances and home-networking gear.

The software, a development kit aimed at device makers, lets developers add support for a specification called Universal Plug and Play to devices including Net appliances, home gateways, routers and other equipment. Theoretically, Universal Plug and Play-enabled devices can identify and configure themselves to run over a network and exchange information.

Intel sees the specification, and others like it, as key to driving acceptance of consumer-level computing gear. Unlike business users, consumers are unlikely to buy home-networking equipment that's too complex or difficult to set up.

Ironically, Microsoft--which competes against Linux with its Windows operating system--developed the Universal Plug and Play specification. It functions much like Windows' existing plug-and-play feature, which automatically recognizes new devices connected to PCs. Universal Plug and Play goes one step further by extending that automatic recognition to devices connected over a network.

The development kitCNET's Linux Center, called the Intel Universal Plug and Play Software Development Kit V1.0 for Linux, includes an application programming interface (API) and Linux source code. The API helps hide the complexity of the interface and simplifies development.

Intel says the kit will be implemented and tested on Linux and will interoperate with Universal Plug and Play on Microsoft's Windows Millennium Edition operating system. Also included in the kit will be documentation, source code and an open-source license.

Intel said developers interested in the kit should sign up on its Web site to receive notification of the kit's release.

The chipmaker has gradually been boosting its stake in Linux firms and is supporting the operating system at both the high and low ends of the computing scale.

Linux is a Unix-like operating system that competes with Windows on standard PC systems and with other operating systems, including Unix, on non-PC devices and in embedded systems. It is cooperatively developed by a host of open-source programmers who share software.