Metrowerks to Buy Linux Tools Company

Metrowerks will acquire key assets of Embedix, a maker of embedded Linux development tools and solutions.

Metrowerks, a maker of software development tools for embedded applications, Tuesday announced it has reached an agreement to acquire the assets of Embedix Inc., a Linux tools company.

As first reported in eWEEK last month, Austin, Texas-based Metrowerks, a division of Motorola Inc., said it is acquiring the key assets of Embedix Inc., based in Lindon, Utah. Primarily, Metrowerks sought Embedixs Lineo embedded Linux application development tools and solutions, the company said.

Berardino Baratta, vice president of Linux solutions and chief technology officer at Metrowerks, said the Embedix acquisition adds to recent moves Metrowerks has made, including the acquisition of assets from Applied Microsystems Corp. (AMC) last month to make Metrowerks more of a complete solutions provider.

"The business of Metrowerks is to sell productivity," Baratta said. "We want to give customers more than one piece. Up to now weve primarily been viewed as a tools company. The Embedix assets build on our plans to deliver more of a solutions focus. Weve laid out a five-year plan to become not only a tools company but also a solutions and services company—to do it all."

Baratta said that Embedixs tools are complementary to the Metrowerks toolset but also add some significant additional technology, including configuration and deployment technology to assist embedded Linux developers. Embedix features a target wizard that enables developers to graphically configure an application; the tool knows what dependencies to lay out for the developer. Another Embedix tool, a deployment wizard known as the GPL Compliance Tool, analyzes applications and gives developers a report on which parts of their application are GPL-compliant. "It tells you whats GPL, whats proprietary and whats questionable," Baratta said.

The GPL, or GNU General Public License, is a leading licensing arrangement for open-source software development that guarantees users the right to share and change free software. GNU is a recursive acronym for GNUs Not Unix. (Recursive acronyms come from hacker lingo and include the acronym as part of the actual name.)

"These are the kinds of tools we really find complementary and that well bring together with our technology to make up a broader toolset for Linux developers," consisting of Metrowerks CodeWarrior line of development tools, the AMC debugging and code testing tools, and now the Embedix tools, Baratta said.

He added that with the addition of the Embedix assets, Metrowerks will be able to deliver Linux-based development tools for creating applications for PDAs, smart handheld devices, residential gateways and digital TVs. Metrowerks will purchase all of the key Embedix assets, including the Embedix SDK [software development kit] for configuring and packaging embedded Linux distributions; Embedix Plus for Smart Handheld Devices; Embedix Plus RG for Residential Gateway; and Embedix Plus for Digital TV, the company said.

To more effectively manage its Linux initiatives, Metrowerks created the Linux Solutions Group, which Baratta heads, he said.

Meanwhile, although Metrowerks would not disclose the financial aspects of the deal, Baratta said the company would retain a significant portion of the Embedix development team. He said Metrowerks will retain more than 30 people, mostly engineering talent, but also management, sales and marketing personnel.

Meanwhile, as some companies are looking to Linux as an embedded technology, others are knocking it. In fact, some say that although Linux is fine in a server environment, it does not translate well to the embedded world where speed, small footprint, and real-time, low-power requirements are fundamental.

Obviously, Metrowerks does not agree.