IBM To Launch Linux Handheld

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Widening its adoption of the Linux operating system, International Business Machines Corp. Friday said it would collaborate with Sharp Corp. of Japan on a handheld computer that runs the open source software.

The handheld, aimed at corporate clients, will be launched in the middle of next year.

It will be based on Sharp's Zaurus, which went on sale earlier this year and runs on Linux. The Zaurus has so far failed to catch on with consumers in a market dominated by handhelds running operating systems from Palm Inc. and Microsoft Corp.

IBM is a big supporter of Linux, which anyone can freely use and modify. While mostly used in Web servers and corporate systems, Linux is seen as a counterweight to Microsoft's dominance in desktop software.

"Linux makes a lot of sense, for multiple reasons," said Rodney Adkins, head of IBM's Pervasive Computing Division. "It's much more attractive for (software) developers to develop for, given its open nature."

The Zaurus will also run software written in Java, a programming language created by Sun Microsystems. It allows software to run on all manner of computers regardless of their operating systems.

The Enterprise Edition Zaurus will allow workers to wirelessly access corporate databases, check inventories and order supplies, the companies said. It will connect to IBM's Websphere business software package and its DB2 database program.

IBM supports similar functions for handhelds with Palm and Microsoft software.

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