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Linux upstart pushes into China

German Linux start-up Tuxia cuts a deal to bring the company into the expanding and potentially gigantic Chinese market for Internet appliances.

German Linux start-up Tuxia has cut a deal to bring the company into the expanding and potentially gigantic Chinese market for Internet appliances.

Tuxia plans to co-develop Linux-based gadgets such as thin-client terminals, set-top boxes, personal digital assistants and Web pads with Beijing Orient Electronics Group, a large manufacturer of electronics components and displays. Tuxia announced the deal Friday.

The Chinese information technology market is still nascent but is eventually expected to explode because of the country's huge untapped population. China's Ministry of Information says the country's market for handheld Internet devices alone has grown by 300 percent in the past two years and is estimated to grow from 6 million units this year to more than 10 million units in 2002.

Portable devices with embedded functions are taking off even as PC sales slow, as evidenced by the transformation this year of the PC Expo trade show into the TechX event, which is focusing on mobile devices. IDC expects the global market for information appliances to grow from 11 million units, or $2.4 billion, in 1999 to more than 89 million units, or $17.8 billion, in 2004.

An embedded system is a special computer used to run devices such as handhelds, office equipment and home appliances.

Linux is just one of several embedded operating systems, including Microsoft's Windows Embedded, competing for dominance in the information appliance market. Linux is popular partly because it does not involve license fees, since it was developed under the open source GNU Public License.

Staff writer Matthew Broersma reported from London.