Motorola Broadband Communications Sector said it will use Lineo Inc.'s
'Embedix' digital-media core as the initial Linux operating system for the
vendor's line of thick-client 'DCT-5000' digital cable set-tops.
The companies claimed that the use of the Linux OS would require a small
memory footprint inside the box and hasten the development and deployment of
advanced digital applications such as personal video recording, streaming media
and home networking.
Lineo said its Embedix software contains a Linux 'kernel' optimized with
graphic drivers and TV and video extensions specifically for set-tops, adding
that application-programming interfaces are also under development. The kernel
basically serves as the core of the OS, handling hardware-housekeeping
Motorola said DCT-5000 boxes embedded with Lineo's technology are expected to
be available in the first quarter of 2001.
The announcement is the first significant one concerning a Linux-cable
combination since June's National Show in Chicago. During that confab, a diverse
group of 24 companies -- including Lineo, Motorola, Broadcom Corp., Sun
Microsystems Inc., Liberate Technologies, TiVo Inc. and Pace Micro Technology
plc -- formed the TV Linux Alliance with the goal of creating an
industry-standard API based on the Unix-based OS.
Scientific-Atlanta Inc., which has its own set-top OS via its PowerTV Inc.
subsidiary, and Microsoft Corp., Linux's dominant competitor, were notably
absent from the list.
Some industry observers noted at the time that porting Linux to set-tops
might take some time, partly because the OS requires significant processing
muscle power and memory.
At the show, Motorola also unveiled plans for a new line of DCT-5000s,
including models outfitted with hard drives for PVR capabilities.
A shift to Linux also underscores the continued difficulties in integrating
Microsoft's fat-client software and Motorola's original DCT-5000 box. Those
travails have forced AT&T Broadband to consider alternative methods for its
initial foray into interactive television.
The MSO is currently ironing out ways to offer interactive TV via millions of
legacy 'DCT-2000' boxes, and it is planning to expand its interactive-TV
ambitions with a more advanced, midrange set-top with vendors yet to be
Last week, Headend in the Sky, an AT&T subsidiary, forged a deal with
Liberate to offer enhanced-television applications to thin-client boxes by the
fourth quarter of this year.
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