Trolltech gets funding boost

Venture capitalists see a profitable future in embedded Linux

Linux developer Trolltech has gained $6.7m (£3.7m) funding for its embedded software and cross-platform desktop developments.

Trolltech is based in Oslo but it also has offices in the US and China. Its products include Qt, which it claims is the most widely-used commercial tool for Linux application development, and Qtopia, a development environment and user interface for Linux-based mobile phones and PDAs which Trolltech says is in use on 60 devices.

Trolltech has close links with the KDE desktop environment, as its Qt environment was used to build it. KDE founder Matthias Ettrich is director of software development at Trolltech.

The company has a dual-licensing scheme that has proved controversial in some open source circles. Trolltech's development environments are free to use if you are making open-source software, but developers have to pay to use the products to build proprietary software.

This new investment comes mainly from venture capital firm Index, and Neil Rimer of Index will join Trolltech's board of directors to keep an eye on the company. Other investors include Teknoinvest and Northzone. Index has a good reputation for spotting up-and-coming European technology companies, having previously invested in MySQL and Skype.

"The market for Linux is quickly extending beyond the data centre into embedded devices and onto the desktop," said Haavard Nord, Trolltech's chief executive. "With industry-leading development software in these areas, we are in an excellent position to build on this momentum."