Linux users in the UK and German-speaking countries will have an opportunity to buy keyboards specially designed for the open source operating system in late September, when Cherry launches what the company claims is the world's first Linux keyboard.

The Cherry CyMotion Master Linux keyboard shows the Linux penguin logo, known as Tux, on what would be the Windows start key of a Microsoft Corp. keyboard and features 29 "hot keys" configured for the Linux operating system and Linux desktop applications, according to Cherry Marketing Director Günter Vogl.

"We are responding to numerous requests from Linux users to design a keyboard that gives them all the familiar features of a Windows-based keyboard, such as the ability to browse the Web, check e-mail or play a CD," Vogl said. "We have developed the necessary drivers to provide these features."

The keyboard will be available in a version for German users and another for UK users.

With the company's KeyMan software, which comes with the product, users can also customize the hot keys to meet their individual computing needs, he said.

In addition, the keyboard comes with a CD including a special edition of SuSE Linux 9.1 from Novell Inc. "This version allows newcomers to Linux to test the software and get a feel for it," Vogl said. "It doesn't include support or a manual. Users will have to buy other SuSE Linux products to obtain these."

The entire package will retail for €39.95 (US$49.41).

Initially, Cherry will market the products in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the U.K. before expanding into other European countries, according to Vogl. He was unable to say when the product will be available in the U.S.

Cherry is a subsidiary of Cherry based in in Waukegan, Illinois.