Australian Linux developers have been instrumental in developing new software that will be incorporated into the Linux kernel, on which all the Linux distributions are based, according to a local executive.

The software, known as uClinux, is a set of patches which modify the Linux kernel to operate on small, embedded processors that lack a Memory Management Unit. These are typically found in devices such as handheld computers and Internet Fridges.

“Two of the main developers [of uClinux] work for SnapGear in Brisbane,” Miles Gillham, VP of marketing for SnapGear told ZDNet Australia  . He described the work of Australians on the code as ‘instrumental’. “A very significant component has been done by Australians.”

The main benefit of uClinux is the small size, taking up a mere 0.5MB of memory. “To be really useful you’d want a whole Meg, to stuff in some applications,” said Gillham. The devices which would use uClinux are often very cheap, and Gillham said that the problem with using propriety software is that you have to pay a licensing fee on a per shipped unit basis. The Linux version, on the other hand, is free.

Alan Cox, an architect of Linux updates and Linus Torvalds, the creator of Linux, was so impressed with the code he has incorporated a number of the patches into revision 2.5.46 of the Linux kernel. The features developed in uClinux will be available as an option in the core kernel.

Greg Ungerer, chief software wizard at SnapGear, said: “It is great to see the unification of Linux and uClinux – developers will win by being able to produce highly scalable products while taking advantage of the abundance of open source applications and device drivers written to the Linux API.”