A year ago, an anonymous donor offered to pay $200,000 to any open-source programmers who could figure out how to install Linux on the Microsoft Xbox video-game system within a year. Now that the deadline has passed and only one of the donor's two goals has been accomplished, the donor has extended the Xbox Linux Project deadline another year and revealed his identity. Michael Robertson, CEO of Lindows.com and the man responsible for Microsoft's legal problems with its Windows trademark, is the donor.

"Michael Robertson has decided to extend the deadline ... for another year," an announcement on the Xbox Linux Project Web site reads. "Any experienced hacker is welcome to join the effort."

The Xbox Linux Project has two goals. The first goal--to be accomplished by any means necessary, including hardware hacks or "mods"--is to install and run on the Xbox a copy of Linux that overcomes the Xbox's built-in antipiracy technology. Several programmers completed this goal in mid-2002, and Robertson says they'll receive a $100,000 total payment by the end of the month. The second goal--also worth $100,000--specifies that Linux take advantage of all the Xbox's hardware, without requiring a hardware mod. This goal has proven to be a bit more elusive.

The Xbox Linux Project organizers aren't only interested in getting Linux up and running on the Xbox, however. Instead, the project's ultimate goal is to see the low-cost gaming console become a suitable platform for home PCs, Web servers, or similar uses. The project is working to port to the Xbox popular Linux desktop environments such as GNU Object Model Environment (GNOME) and K Desktop Environment (KDE), as well as provide support for keyboards, mouse devices, printers, scanners, cameras, and other hardware devices. For more information about this intriguing project, visit the Xbox Linux Project Web site.