Red Hat eyes handheld market

With Red Hat Software's acquisition of Cygnus Solutions last week, the company has established itself as the largest open source software company in the industry, and the firm is now setting its sights on the handheld computing market.

On Nov. 15, Red Hat announced its $674 million acquisition of Cygnus, a Sunnyvale, Calif., company that makes Linux application development tools and embedded operating systems. Future developments from the merger could greatly benefit enterprise networks that utilize remote, handheld computing by helping to bring more robust handheld client/server applications to market faster, says Erik Troan, Red Hat's director of engineering.

"We feel that by combining Red Hat's strengths in servers and workstation technology with Cygnus' expertise in small devices, we're creating a compelling story for the post-PC world," Troan says. "We think it will be very important in future enterprise networks to have smaller devices talking back to servers on the back end," as small networked devices begin to take the place of portable PCs for some remote computing tasks, he says.

Troan says having the technology for Linux server and handheld devices under one roof will speed development of Linux-based applications for the two platforms.

"We will now offer a single set of APIs, libraries and programming tools for everything from systems such as palm-tops and handheld devices to powerful servers," Troan says. This will help programmers because they will have one set of APIs to write to for both platforms.

One of the key products that Red Hat will develop and offer in the embedded and handheld operating system market is Cygnus' Embedded Cygnus Operating System (eCos), which is an embedded Linux-like operating system suitable for small devices such as handheld computers and cellular phones.

"We feel this operating system can be competitive with Windows CE," Troan says.

Additionally, Cygnus' EL/IX, an API for developing applicaiotions to run across multiple platforms, such as eCos, embedded Linux and full-blown Linux, will be developed by Red Hat. Both the EL/IX and eCos software products are open source, which makes the technologies a natural fit with Red Hat, Troan says.

Also announced last week was the promotion of Red Hat President Matthew Szulik to the position of president and CEO. Szulik, who joined Red Hat a year ago as president, will oversee the combined executive teams of Red Hat and Cygnus. Bob Young, former CEO and Red Hat co-founder, will now serve as chairman of the company.

This story, "Red Hat eyes handheld market" was originally published by Network World.

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