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Motorola picks Lineo for set-top box

Lineo's Embedix product--which combines Linux with proprietary software--will be an option on Motorola's DCT5000 series of high-end set-top television boxes.

SAN FRANCISCO--Lineo's version of Linux will be an option for upcoming set-top boxes from Motorola, and the company announced a product to ease the legal complexities of mixing open-source and proprietary software.

Motorola, an investor in Lineo, will include Lineo's Embedix product--which combines Linux with proprietary software--on its DCT5000 series of high-end set-top television boxes. The products will be available in the first quarter of 2002, but Motorola will offer other operating systems as well, said Cathleen Collett, product marketing manager, at a news conference Tuesday at the LinuxWorld Conference and Expo.

In addition, Lineo announced software that will help users of its products make sure they aren't improperly mixing open-source and proprietary software, a possibility that comes up often in Lineo's "embedded" realm of set-top boxes, network routers and other non-PC computing devices. The tool, available in September, will be a $3,000 add-on to the company's software development kit, said Dan Montierth, general manager of the tools product line.

Lineo, based in Lindon, Utah, had to withdraw its initial public offering in January and lay off 13 percent of its staff in July. Last week, however, the company won a $20 million investment from Sun Microsystems, Hitachi, Canopy Group and Egan Managed Partners.

Linux companies are doing whatever they can to minimize expenses during the economic slump. Lineo, despite being one of the Linux industry's premiere companies, decided to cancel its booth at LinuxWorld after learning attendance would be less than expected, said company spokesman Lyle Ball.

Lineo's GPL Compliance Toolkit relies on having software modules tagged so their license provisions are known, Montierth said. Under provisions of the General Public License (GPL) that covers Linux and several other open-source projects, there are constraints on linking to other software that could require companies to release other software as open source.

The Lineo product, which recognizes the GPL and 41 other licenses, alerts programmers when such potentially unwanted code connections take place, Montierth said.