New Linux PDA and apps make their debut

New Linux PDA and apps make their debut

By Mark A. Kellner

Special to GCN

A personal digital assistant for Linux and new versions of the open-source operating system, including one for real-time computing, are being unveiled this week at the LinuxWorld trade show in San Jose, Calif.

The Agenda VR3 weighs 5 ounces and can sync data with Microsoft Outlook and with other handheld devices.

The PDA comes from Agenda Computing Inc. of Irvine, Calif., a U.S. unit of a Hong Kong company. The Agenda VR3, which runs a modified version of Linux, weighs 5 ounces and averages 60 days' service on two AAA batteries. Agenda will ship the $149 device in October.

Agenda president Roger Richards said the custom OS will be available to software developers free of charge. Agenda has developed a conduit called QuickSync to synchronize the PDA's contact and calendar data with Microsoft Outlook. The VR3 also has a cursive handwriting recognition program and exchanges business card information with devices running Microsoft PocketPC or Palm OS from Palm Inc. of Santa Clara, Calif.

This and that

'The fact that we are running Linux lets us do some things that other low-priced PDAs can't do,' such as executing more than one operation simultaneously, Richards said. 'You could be downloading your e-mail from your PC and at the same time put in a new contact or add to your to-do list.'

Several companies are demonstrating new variants of Linux, as well as applications for the OS.

Chilliware Inc. of Los Angeles will release five products at the show, including a new version of its Xtreme Ice Linux OS, priced from $49 to $179.

Xtreme Ice has clustering capabilities for up to 10 computers at a price Chilliware president Kenneth Eppers said is substantially lower than that of OSes from Red Hat Inc. of Durham, N.C., or TurboLinux Inc. of San Francisco.

The other Chilliware products are the Mohawk-Apache Server Configurator, designed to cut setup time for the open-source Apache Web Server for Linux, and the Nexxus contact manager, which lets users open a contact database while working from any application.

Also coming from Chilliware are the Sculptor desktop publishing program and Mentor developer's tools to speed up creation of help file documentation. More information appears at

Corel Corp. will preview its Corel Linux OS Second Edition. A free version will be downloadable tomorrow, Aug. 15, from

SuSE Inc. of Oakland, Calif., will demonstrate its SuSE Linux 7.0 on a range of IBM Corp. hardware, as well as on high-availability and clustering platforms from SGI and Compaq Computer Corp.

SuSE also will show wireless products in conjunction with Lutris Technologies Inc. of Santa Cruz, Calif., and database and backup products with Oracle Corp. and the Arkeia unit of Knox Software Corp. of Carlsbad, Calif. For information, go to

Red Hat spokeswoman Melissa London said her company's LinuxWorld announcements will center around Gnome, the OS' graphical interface, and the company's high-availability server.

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

'We just released [RTnet] for use in applications such as flight simulation or on any network where you have distributed computing,' he said. 'You can connect multiple machines, 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.

Reflected glow

'What Embedix RM does is let that data 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 addressed like a resident hardware memory block,' Beal said.

The company will make available beta copies of its RealTime Linux installation CD-ROM. The fourth version is set for Sept. 1 release.

The real-time extensions have been tested against five Linux implementations, he said: Red Hat, SuSE, OpenLinux from Caldera Systems Inc. of Orem, Utah, Debian GnuLinux and Linux-Mandrake. More information appears at

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