In an effort to spur the development of Linux for handheld computers, Compaq will offer software developers a version of Linux for its IPaq handheld PC.

Compaq's release of Linux for the IPaq will allow researchers and developers to write new applications for handheld computers and other intelligent appliances, says Nora Hahn, a Compaq spokesperson.

The idea is to try to encourage use of Linux as a common operating system and development tool for handheld computers.

The IPaq, released in April, will continue to use Microsoft Windows CE commercially, however. Palm and Windows CE operating systems dominate the small device market now, but Linux "may become a second platform in the future," she says.