Lucent Technologies Inc’s Inferno network operating system and its associated languages were originally pitched as competitive technology to Sun Microsystems’ Java when launched in May of last year (CI No 2,918). Now plans are afoot for the two to co-operate more closely, with the announcement that the next generation of Inferno is to support the PersonalJava set of applications programming interfaces, for use on such devices as screen phones, set-top boxes and other consumer communications products. Support for PersonalJava, a subset of the full Java language which Lucent helped to define (CI No 3,133), will enable devices using the Inferno operating system to run any PersonalJava applications already written for other devices. Those applications will be able to take advantage of Inferno’s security and authentication features, and its distributed systems capabilities, said Lucent, which dismissed Sun’s own Java OS as not very successful. The company said it wouldn’t be appropriate for it to support full- blown Java, which is too large and heavy. Support for PersonalJava is an alternative to Lucent’s own Limbo language, which has lost out in the hype stakes to Java. Version 2.0 of Inferno, which fits into spaces as small as 1.5Mb, is set to be commercially available by the time of the Comdex show this November, with a beta program already underway. Aside from the promise of bug fixes and higher performance, the new version will add additional support for networking protocols such as SNMP. It runs on Motorola PowerPC and 680×0, Intel x86 from the 386 up, ARM, StrongARM and Sun Sparc processors, with Hitachi SH3 and 4 and Mitsubishi M32 RD support in the plans. Lucent said it has design wins for screen phones, set top boxes and telephone switches, but wouldn’t reveal names, although Tatung Co Ltd has said it will be using Inferno for its set top boxes.
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