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Open Kernel Labs raises $7.6 million

The embedded-virtualization spinout of Australia's NICTA gets $7.6 million in venture funding from Chrysalis Ventures, Neo Technology Ventures, and Citrix Systems without many noticing.

There hasn't been much Web chatter around Open Kernel Labs, but late last week, the Chicago-based Open Kernel Labs, a spinout from Australia's NICTA, announced a $7.6 million investment from Chrysalis Ventures, Neo Technology Ventures, and Citrix Systems.

This follows a $2.5 million grant Open Kernel Labs recently received from NICTA.

Not much noise is made about Open Kernel Labs because it operates in the embedded-virtualization market, providing microkernel technology to manufacturers of electronics such as mobile handsets.

Importantly, while based on the open-source General Public License 3, the company is able to segregate differently licensed components and run on Linux, Windows, or other embedded operating systems (including real-time operating systems), which is a critical requirement in the embedded world.

True to its open-source roots, developers can dig through information on the source code, another key advantage to an open-source microkernel technology. The embedded market invests a lot of time and resources in customizing code: it's the one market in which modifiability of source code is a must-have feature.

I haven't seen much funding in the embedded-operating-system market since my own company in that market, Lineo, sold to Metrowerks in late 2002. It's nice to see the eruption of the mobile market turning interest toward open-source embedded software again.