Hello,

We noticed you're browsing in private or incognito mode.

To continue reading this article, please exit incognito mode or log in.

Not a subscriber? Subscribe now for unlimited access to online articles.

Intelligent Machines

Linux in Your Palm

Software

Linux, the open-source operating system that some say could give Microsoft Windows a run for its money, is now taking aim at a new market: personal digital assistants. If the nonproprietary software can stake its claim in that area, it could help lay the foundations for a generation of less expensive handheld devices.

In recent months, there has been a surge of interest in Linux handhelds. Irvine, CA’s Agenda Computing and Redmond, WA’s Empower Technologies have started selling personal digital assistants that come preloaded with Linux, and several other companies now offer versions of Linux that can be installed on handheld devices-like the Compaq iPAQ-that normally run Microsoft’s Pocket PC operating system.

Empower Technologies’ Linux DA not only runs on Empower’s own device but is the first distribution of a Linux-based operating system capable of running on the Palm handhelds, which have dominated the market for several years. Its designers overcame “a lot of technical barriers,” according to Paul Leung, CEO of Empower, as Palms have only a fraction of the memory and processing power of the iPAQ and other handhelds.

Leung admits that few users will abandon the popular Palm operating system and its thousands of applications for Linux DA. Instead, he sees Linux DA as the beginning of a common operating system for a wide range of personal digital assistants. “We’re trying to create a common platform that more manufacturers can support, giving people more choice,” he says. Flooding the market with such clonelike devices could drive down prices, Leung says.

This story is part of our December 2001 Issue
See the rest of the issue
Subscribe

Industry analysts, however, are ambivalent about the prospects for Linux handhelds. Stacey Quandt of Cambridge, MA-based Giga Information Group says the idea is a viable one but adds that few people will buy a handheld simply because it runs Linux. “They will buy a device because of the applications it supports and if it provides enhanced functionality,” she says. If the availability of compatible software remains limited, Quandt says, Linux handhelds “will be a hard sell.”

Be there when AI pioneers take center stage at EmTech Digital 2019.

Register now
More from Intelligent Machines

Artificial intelligence and robots are transforming how we work and live.

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to All Access Digital.
  • All Access Digital {! insider.prices.digital !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    The digital magazine, plus unlimited site access, our online archive, and The Download delivered to your email in-box each weekday.

    See details+

    12-month subscription

    Unlimited access to all our daily online news and feature stories

    Digital magazine (6 bi-monthly issues)

    Access to entire PDF magazine archive dating back to 1899

    The Download: newsletter delivered daily

/3
You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. This is your last free article this month. for unlimited online access. You've read all your free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for more, or for unlimited online access. for two more free articles, or for unlimited online access.