Compaq is working on a line of Internet appliance products to be powered by Stinger, the cut-down version of the BeOS aimed at such devices. The agreement signed by two companies allows Compaq to distribute Stringer -- which despite statements from National Semiconductor (for its WebPad product) and Compaq has yet to be officially announced -- on "future Internet Appliance computing devices under development in Compaq's Consumer Products Division". Both firms will co-operate on development and marketing. Curiously, Compaq has a built a 'get out of jail free card' into the non-exlusive agreement, which "does not contain any minimum purchase commitments on the part of Compaq", essentially allowing The Big Q to switch over to an alternative OS -- Linux, anyone? -- if it wants to. And it probably will. NatSemi's WebPad project, although flagged by Be as a major Stinger win, also takes in Linux as a reference design OS, so it would be surprising indeed if Compaq's Internet appliance effort didn't run along similar lines. It's notable that today's announcement was made by Be, not Compaq, so Be could easily be playing up its role. ® Related Stories Red Hat to buy Be? Be to bundle Opera Web browser Be preps BeOS-in-Windows 'Trojan Horse'