It's a safe bet that if it has a processor, someone will try to run Linux on it. Now Taiwanese company Linpus Technologies has done just that for StrongARM-based PDAs.

Called ECniw, the system — seen here running on a Compaq iPaq — provides a full, graphical Linux-based operating system for PDAs using Intel's StrongARM processor.

Besides providing the ultimate in geek cool, the system has many benefits: it's small — the kernel occupies a mere 500KB, with the graphics engine running to 600KB — and it boots quickly, taking just six seconds from power on. The large Linux user base means software can be simply and quickly ported to the device.

The system is modular too, so hardware developers can pick and choose which components they want to include.

In addition to the core operating system, there's a full suite of software available, ranging from diary and contact management to email and multimedia playback. Full support for both GPRS and 802.11b wireless networking is available.

Linpus deals directly with hardware manufactures, and to help them get going it offers a sample PDA with ECniw already installed along with a full software development kit.

If enough manufacturers take up the challenge, we might see Linux-based PDAs running ECniw available in the UK before the end of the year.