Linux-based PDA, new OS versions on the way

Linux-based PDA, new OS versions on the way

By Mark A. Kellner

Special to GCN

AUG. 7—The LinuxWorld exposition in San Jose, Calif., next week will host the debut of a five-ounce personal digital assistant running Linux, plus the first appearance of several new versions of the open-source operating system, including one for real-time computing.

The Agenda VR3 handheld device from Agenda Computing Inc. of Irvine, Calif., is roughly the size of a Palm OS device and will run for 60 days of average use on two AAA batteries, Agenda president Roger Richards said. Agenda will ship the $149 device in October with a modified version of Linux.

Agenda has developed a conduit called QuickSync that will synchronize contact and calendar data with Microsoft Outlook. Also, the company has licensed a handwriting recognition program for the PDA, which will exchange business card information with Palm OS and Microsoft PocketPC devices. It can run more than one operation at a time, Richards said. A clip-on modem and a keyboard will be available for the device later this year. The company's Web site, at www.agendacomputing.com, will offer more information when it goes online later this month.

Several companies said they are planning new variants of the Linux OS, as well as applications for it.

Chilliware Inc. of Los Angeles will release five new products at the show, including a version of its Xtreme Ice Linux OS, priced from $49 to $179. Its other products include the Mohawk Apache Server Configurator, based on the Apache Web Server application for Linux and designed to cut configuration time, and the Nexxus contact manager, which lets users open the contact database while working from any application.

Also new from Chilliware are the Sculptor desktop publishing program and Mentor developer's tools, designed to speed up creation of help file documentation. Information about the firm and its products can be found at www.chilliware.net.

Corel Corp. will preview its Corel Linux OS Second Edition. A free version is downloadable from linux.corel.com.

SuSE Inc. of Oakland, Calif., will showcase its SuSE Linux 7 on a range of IBM Corp. hardware including the S/390, RS/6000, NetFinity and ThinkPad, as well as high-availability and clustering platforms built with SGI and Compaq Computer Corp. SuSE also will show wireless products with Lutris Technologies Inc. of Santa Cruz, Calif., and database ventures with Oracle Corp. and the Arkeia unit of Knox Software Corp. of Carlsbad, Calif. See www.suse.com.

Real-time developer David Beal of Lineo Inc. of Lindon, Utah, said the company will demonstrate embedded Linux products that guarantee real-time response.

"We just released real-time networking for use in applications such as flight simulation or any network where you have distributed computing," he said. "You can connect multiple machines on the same network, and the software extends guaranteed response time to distributed processes all across your local network."

Lineo's Embedix RM operating system has a reflective memory scheme, he said. "Say you have multiple computers operating a flight simulator. One is doing visual, another motion, another the control loading, another the weather radar display. Three of those four would rely on positional data of the aircraft," Beal said.

"What Embedix RM does is allow that data to reside on one computer and be reflected across to other computers. If that one computer is updating it all, the ability to get it out to the other computers is relatively trivial. It's then addressed like a resident hardware memory block on your machine."


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