Lucent has released Inferno, a portable network operating system that it ambitiously touts as a "Java-killer".
The real time OS is designed to be used in all types of Internet access devices, including mobile phones, and in network equipment such as routers, without any modification. Despite the company's aggressive talk about offering an alternative to Java, analysts believe it will only really challenge Sunsoft in the embedded market, not on corporate desktops. However, Inferno does support applications written in Java, C and C++ as well as its own programming language, Limbo. It can also be integrated with corporate databases supporting the ODBC standard.
Lucent's vice president Mike Skarzynski said the company has signed 22 licensees but these will not be named until next month.
He expects to see Inferno adopted as a cut-down operating system for small appliances such as network computers, either where these do not require a fully functioned OS, or where Inferno can run on top of an OS such as NT or Unix to control appliances in real time.
The software is also targeted at network equipment makers to embed in routers, switches, PBXs and other devices to offer real time control. Skarzynski confirmed Lucent is talking to Nortel, Ericsson and Alcatel, among others.
The main technological elements of Inferno are communications protocols called Styx, which are built into the OS, Limbo, and a virtual machine called Dis. It also contains audio and speech drivers.
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