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MontaVista Adds Linux Tools

Embedded Linux proponent MontaVista Software hopes to steal some thunder from high-flying competitor Wind River this Thursday, when it announces a deal with long-time Wind River partner Real-Time Innovations (RTI).

The news, which will be disclosed at the Embedded Systems Conference in San Francisco, could serve as a marketing coup to counter the extensive publicity Wind River received last month with it announced plans to embrace open source.

Under the pact, RTI will offer versions of its ScopeTools software performance-analysis tools for use with MontaVista's Linux lineup. The tools will make it easier for developers to uncover bugs before they ship in apps developed under MontaVista Linux.

"It's time to throw down the gauntlet. Wind River and others are re-targeting their legacy shelfware and other dull-edged tools for embedded Linux," said MontaVista Director of Strategic Marketing Bill Weinberg in a statement.

Weinberg told internetnews.com, "Wind River has positioned their stuff as if they're some kind of white knights."

Weinberg said he feels that's misleading, because, he said, Linux isn't doesn't need any help to make it ready for prime time in the embedded arena. He pointed to the wide-spread use of MontaVista's Linux in smartphones from Motorola and in consumer electronics systems from Sony.

"There are around a dozen handset vendors in China moving to Linux," Weinberg said. "Probably two-thirds of them will be using MontaVista Linux." Specifically, Weinberg said he expects announcements of at least three more design wins by the end of the year.

As for the RTI tools, they include performance analysis, debugging, and software-profiling features. "These are the meat of embedded debugging, which Wind River and others claim don't exist for Linux," Weinberg said.

The tools are intended to reign in complexity. "People are choosing to put Linux into applications that are more complicated than, say, where Windows goes," said Weinberg. "What the RTI tools do is help developers follow the execution flow, understand how programs are interacting with one another, and nail down bugs."

RTI, based in Sunnyvale, Calif., was founded over a decade ago by a former manager of Stanford University's Aerospace Robotics Lab. It makes software tools for embedded and distributed systems.

As for Wind River, it's currently moving ahead to firmly embrace Linux after a period of some two years during which it assessed how to integrate the OS into a product line built around its proprietary VxWorks OS. Wind River is now intensifying its Linux efforts via its link up last month with number one Linux distributor Red Hat. The deal with the Raleigh, N.C.-based Red Hat means its enterprise version of Linux will be the foundation of Wind River Linux-based platforms and will be integrated with Wind River's own tools, middleware, and services.

For its part, MontaVista has been working with Linux since the company was formed in 1999 and has scored several big design wins recently. Earlier this month, Motorola chose MontaVista's consumer version of Linux to power its A760 cellphone. Motorola recently unveiled the A768 mobile phone in China. The phone, which is also powered by MontaVista's software, is Motorola's first enterprise Linux phone and is targeted specifically at corporate users.

In November, MontaVista singed a deal with Intel. Under the pact, MontaVista's commercial-grade Consumer Electronics Edition (CEE) Linux operating system was ported to support Intel new next-generation processor for wireless devices, code-named "Bulverde."