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SPECIAL REPORT: Motorola/Metrowerks acquires embedded Linux pioneer Lineo

Dec 17, 2002 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 1 views

It's official: Following weeks of speculation, Motorola's Metrowerks embedded tools subsidiary today formally announced that they are acquiring the key assets of Embedix Inc. (formerly Lineo, Inc.), one of the earliest and most popular providers of embedded Linux software and tools.

Metrowerks is well known for its popular CodeWarrior integrated development environment (IDE), which is used for embedded system software development. Lineo and Metrowerks have had a long standing strategic partnership including a $22.5 million investment by Metrowerks in Lineo in September 2000.

According to today's announcement, Metrowerks is acquiring all key Embedix assets, including . . .

  • Embedix SDK, a development tool for configuring and packaging embedded Linux distributions
  • Embedix Plus for Smart Handheld Devices (used by Sharp in its Zaurus family of Linux-based handhelds)
  • Embedix Plus RG for Residential Gateways
  • Embedix Plus for Digital TVs

In addition to acquiring the Embedix assets, Metrowerks plans to retain a significant portion of the Embedix (Lineo) team, including key management, engineering, marketing, and sales personnel, according to John Smolucha, Metrowerks vice president of strategic marketing.

Metrowerks will use the newly gained embedded Linux assets and talent to target manufacturers developing applications for PDAs, smart handhelds, residential gateways, digital TVs, and other embedded systems and devices, Smolucha said. Additionally, the company plans to offer Linux-based end-to-end solutions including middleware and IP stacks targeting the netcom, wireless, and consumer electronics markets.

Although Metrowerks will have gained their own embedded Linux operating system implementation through the Embedix acquisition, Smolucha said Metrowerks plans to support other leading embedded Linux distributions in addition to Embedix, including LynuxWorks BlueCat, TimeSys Linux, and MontaVista Linux. This is facilitated by the fact that recent enhancements to the Embedix SDK development tool have resulted in a development platform that is compatible with — and can import — most embedded Linux kernels, Smolucha explained.

In support of its expanded Linux OS-based development platforms and solutions products and services, Metrowerks has created a new business unit, the Metrowerks Linux Solutions Group, headed by Berardino Baratta, Metrowerks vice president of Linux solutions and chief technology officer. The new business unit is responsible for aggregating technology from Metrowerks and third parties, creating Linux-based development platforms, and supplementing it with services aimed at accelerating OEM time-to-market.

“Linux is an ideal platform on which to build embedded applications across multiple architectures,” said Baratta. “It helps lower development costs and has a broad developer community, which leads to a high rate of innovation. By adding the Embedix technology to our CodeWarrior tools, we'll be able to offer a full suite of open source solutions and services across the development spectrum.”

“Customers want a full solution, up to the application level, from a single source,” Smolucha added. “Our goal is to become the leading provider of complete embedded Linux-based solutions. We will provide [the] Embedix [kernel], but also other kernels as requested by customers. We've done this with CPUs [in addition to supporting Motorola's processors], and have excellent relationshiops with all the major semiconductor manufacturers.”

IDC senior analyst Paul Zorfass expects the acquisition of Embedix by Motorola/Metrowerks to add stability to the embedded Linux market. “Unlike Linux in the enterprise space, the embedded Linux market has been hampered by a lack of credibility and stability,” observed Paul Zorfass. “This announcement is important because it signifies a further maturation of the embedded Linux market, as well as the support and backing from as significant an organization as the Metrowerks subsidiary of Motorola.”

“Embedded Linux is an important emerging technology in the communications and networking space,” said David Perkins, vice president and general manager of Motorola's Networking and Computing Systems Group. “Metrowerks' acquisition of Embedix, combined with the infrastructure of embedded Linux developers and third party product and service providers, represent a comprehensive set of choices for customers looking for embedded Linux solutions on Motorola's market leading communication processors.”

“The acquisition of [Embedix] by Metrowerks, an established provider of development tools and services, will place embedded Linux choices on a more level playing field for OEMs evaluating whether or not to commit to the embedded Linux OS as a strategic platform,” Zorfass added.

Metrowerks' development tools product line already includes two Embedded Linux based products — the CodeWarrior Development Studio Embedded Linux Edition, and the CodeWarrior for Embedix Development System.

Lineo, one of the first companies to sell Linux-based products and services to the embedded market, went through a series of layoffs and spinouts of former acquisitions during the past eighteen months, culminating in a recapitalization last April (when its assets were transferred to “Embedix Inc.”).

Metrowerks, with its CodeWarrior embedded development tools and related software and hardware products and services, has a market focus in the areas of consumer electronics, transportation, wireless, networking, and communications industries. The company also offers training, developer programs, and custom software engineering. Founded in 1985, Metrowerks is now an “independently operating subsidiary” of Motorola, Inc., with corporate headquarters in Austin, TX and currently has more than 550 employees.

The Embedix acquisition is expected to close shortly, “pending certain consents and approvals,” according to today's Metrowerks announcement. In November, Metrowerks announced the successful completion of its acquisition of select technology assets from Applied Microsystems Corporation.

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