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Metrowerks rolls out OpenPDA toolkit for Linux

Metrowerks has finally rolled out its long-awaited OpenPDA development platform for Linux-based mobile devices. Based on a combination of open-source and proprietary software, this new family of components, development tools and related services provides what the Austin, Texas-based maker of the popular CodeWarrior IDEs calls a "pre-integrated" software stack for mobile devices, including personal digital assistants (PDAs) and smart handhelds.

That stack includes an embedded Linux OS, GUI framework and a Java runtime environment, as well as a range of applications for smart handheld devices. Apps include PIM, e-mail, browser, gaming, multimedia, PC synchronization, wireless connectivity, device configuration and more.

As it supports Linux, OpenPDA is a viable alternative to other platforms such as Windows CE, Pocket PC, VxWorks and Palm, said Brett Haskins, Metrowerks' director of mobile computing devices, in a statement.

Metrowerks previewed OpenPDA last January at LinuxWorld in New York with a demo of the software running on AMD's Alchemy Au1100 system-on-chip-based Mobile Client Reference Design Kit. Company officials said at the time that the firm would release the product late in the first quarter of 2003. Metrowerks CTO Berardino Baratta said OpenPDA would support Intel's StrongARM and XScale processor families, Sharp's ARM7/9 products, TI's OMAP processors and AMD's Alchemy.

According to company officials, this release supports ARM and MIPS architectures, with ports to other architectures yet to come. Metrowerks promises that support for two "widely used" reference boards is forthcoming.

The first version of the OpenPDA development kit will support development on chips from the toolmaker's parent company, Motorola. The OpenPDA Development Studio for Motorola i.MX1 is designed for developers building wireless Linux apps for that line of low-power mobile processors. Motorola's i.MX1 chips feature intelligent integrated peripherals, an advanced ARM processor core, and power management and multimedia capabilities.

"We see strong, pent-up demand for Linux-based business solutions," Kyle Harper, Motorola's wireless strategic marketing manager, told Programmers Report. "It's a significant strategic operating system platform that we are pursuing worldwide as part of our platform solutions. Linux marries very well with the wired and battery-powered solutions we offer in our silicon-based platform. It's a natural fit."

Linux has been making strides into a range of new markets in recent years, Harper pointed out. He cited increasingly widespread adoption of Linux technologies in Japan and the Asia-Pacific region. The Associated Press reported last week that the Japanese government is considering switching to Linux when it upgrades its computer data files for public servants in 2005.

"And it won't stop there," Harper said. "We have customers that are driving us with Linux-based programs worldwide.

"The thing about the Metrowerks offering that caught our attention is that [OpenPDA] is a one-stop shop," he added. "It's a fully integrated development environment, programming environment and runtime environment all wrapped around Linux. We believe that is what OEMs, ODMs, hardware manufacturers and third-party software developers need to trust in Linux."

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About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at john@watersworks.com.

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