RealTime IT News

Intel's Mobile Linux Initiative Misses Vendor Mark?

Intel is pushing its mobile Linux development efforts with Moblin.org, a new resource site for open source projects focused on the development of Linux for Intel-based devices.

The site has already posted an initial list of projects that it will undertake, including key components such as the kernel, browser, power management framework and a user interface framework.

So far the site lists Ubuntu's Mobile and Embedded Edition and Red Flag's MIDINUX Linux distributions as participants. This leaves out what is arguably the world's most deployed embedded Linux distribution: MontaVista Linux.

"MontaVista has been aware of this initiative by Intel for some time and has met with Intel a number of times to discuss the project," Jim Ready, CTO and founder of MontaVista, told internetnews.com. "As the devices Intel is making become competitive in the market, we will respond to our customers' demand for support by porting MontaVista Mobilinux to these devices."

MontaVista's Mobilinux is a version of its MontaVista Linux embedded offering that is specifically tailored for the needs of mobile devices. Ready said he doesn't consider Moblin as competing with MontaVista.

According to Ready, MontaVista is very supportive of efforts that improve Linux and make it suitable for as many devices as possible. He went on to note that MontaVista, along with the support of its semiconductor partners (Texas Instrument and Intel) and customers (NEC, Panasonic and Motorola), have delivered production quality MontaVista Linux for mobile devices that have shipped in more than 30 million devices.

That said, there is a fundamental difference between what Intel is doing with Moblin and what MontaVista does.

"MontaVista is in the business of delivering a production-quality, technologically advanced, fully supported Linux distribution (MontaVista Mobilinux), which is responsive to customers' time-to-market requirements," Ready explained.

"The Intel effort, while interesting and useful, does none of these. Nor is it designed to. Like many open source projects it will produce prototype software of varying utility and quality on unpredictable schedules, as it should. It's up to companies, such as MontaVista and the device makers themselves, to decide if they want to invest in the effort to make useable real products out of the technology."

Ready also pointed out that what Intel is now doing with Mobile Linux is similar to how Intel a few years back was able to help drive Carrier Grade Linux.

That effort matured with vendors now providing Carrier Grade Linux solutions, including Montavista, into the marketplace.

There are challenges for providing Linux for mobile devices. According to Ready, the technical requirements of customers developing mobile devices are increasing rapidly so keeping up with these new requirements requires on-going efforts.

From MontaVista's point of view they are working on improving the real-time capabilities of Linux, reducing its memory footprint, increasing its security and improving the software development environment through advanced analysis tools.

It's a lot more than simply taking the Linux server model and making it work for mobile.

"Anyone who thinks that a mobile device based on Intel architecture is just like a desktop or server seriously underestimates the challenges in supporting Linux on mobile devices," Ready said. "We ought to know, no one has shipped more Linux on mobile devices than MontaVista."