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MontaVista Gears Linux for Consumer Electronics

Embedded Linux specialist MontaVista Software took the opening of the 2003 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) Wednesday as an opportunity to hold a coming out party for a new version of MontaVista Linux geared especially for consumer electronics devices.

Sunnyvale, Calif.-based MontaVista has slowly been casting its embedded Linux net worldwide: it has offices in seven states, and across Europe, Japan and Asia Pacific. Its partners use its software to make products ranging from communications infrastructure to consumer electronics and anti-lock brakes. Indeed, it already has more than 100 consumer electronics device companies as partners -- including Sony, Panasonic, NEC, and Toshiba America -- making products ranging from cell phones to PDAs, set-top boxes, Internet radios, residential gateways, automotive telematics, even Karaoke machines.

By adding MontaVista Linux Consumer Electronics Edition 3.0 to its lineup, which already includes Professional and Carrier Grade, MontaVista hopes to tempt more consumer electronics manufacturers to turn on to Linux, which has been a slow and frustrating process to date. Other players in the embedded systems market include Motorola, Red Hat and LynuxWorks on the Linux side, and Microsoft pushing its embedded Windows solutions.

Longtime player Embedix (formerly Lineo) struggled to help create the market before it was acquired last month by MetroWerks, a Motorola subsidiary.

"Consumer electronics products are evolving from simple, single function appliances into complex, network-connected devices," said Stephen Balacco, embedded systems analyst at Venture Development Corp. "The expanded functionality of these products will increasingly require high performance hardware and a 32-bit robust multi-tasking operating system such as Linux."

Initially, MontaVista's CEE 3.0 offering supports Texas Instruments' OMAP 1510 and OMAP5910 processors and the IBM PowerPC 405LP processor. Support for additional processing platforms is planned, and MontaVista is also moving forward with solution stacks from its software partners aimed at key consumer electronics markets.

MontaVista has already put together:

  • Access, Opera Software, Espial, Phoenix Technologies, Websoft International and Zentek for device Web browsers
  • CodeHost for rich printing support
  • Hughes Software Systems for VoIP and SIP stacks
  • IBM for end-to-end device management and enterprise connectivity
  • InterVideo for Linux-based DVD playing software
  • IP Infusion for routing protocol stacks
  • Liberate for Digital TV middleware
  • Macrovision for digital rights and license management
  • Movial for rich embedded Instant Communication software
  • Open Interface for certified Bluetooth stacks
  • ProSyst for an open and scalable service delivery platform
  • Solid Information Technology and PointBase for embedded databases
  • Tao Group for multimedia engines
  • BMR and MasterIA for Chinese fonts and input, MasterIA for Korean fonts and input, and Omron Software for Japanese input.

More partnerships will be announced over the coming months.

"These extensive collaborative efforts offer OEMs complete hardware/software solutions, which will both speed time-to-market and lower total development costs for the next generation of consumer and home electronics devices," said Sheila Baker, vice president of Marketing, MontaVista. "These partnerships will help consumer electronics companies leverage a wealth of applications and meet the high productivity and low power requirements of new consumer devices with more complex functionality."