Under the deal, Lineo will help work on the Linux machines using the CompactPCI design in which several circuit boards, each with its own computer, slide into slots. The design is popular with telecommunications companies--first, because it packs a lot of computing horsepower into a small volume, and second, because if a single computer fails, its comrades can take over its workload while the defective one is replaced.
But Lineo also has changed directions dramatically. Although it is working on a version of Linux called Embedix, based on a product from sister company Caldera Systems, the Force device will use a different product called Availix that's based on Red Hat's version of Linux.
Red Hat competes fiercely with Caldera, which originally was part of the same company as Lineo and which owns Lineo stock.
The companies plan to announce the deal Wednesday at the LinuxWorld Conference and Expo trade show in New York. The show is displaying the gradual progress the Linux operating system is making as it infiltrates different sectors of the computer industry.
The partnership with Force, a subsidiary of manufacturing giant Solectron, is significant for Lineo. Although Lineo was one of the first to push Linux into non-PC "embedded" computing devices, the tepid tech market forced the company to withdraw its initial public offering plan.
Numerous Linux competitors also are targeting the embedded area, a broad market segment that encompasses everything from handheld computers to factory robots to networking equipment and airplane avionics systems. Among the biggest competitors is Red Hat, which went public and held a secondary stock offering while Linux still was popular with investors.
The Force computer line, using Intel's Pentium III chips, will be called the Availix Platform 8-i500. For higher reliability, the system will include redundant features such as power supplies, disk system controllers, disks and fans.
The system is built on Force's HA Arbiter design, which synchronizes the clocks of as many as seven Pentium III-based computers and governs their access to shared resources such as storage and network systems.
Pricing for a basic model with four computers begins at $40,000, the companies said. The product will be available in March.